First civilian Victoria Cross medal sells for £930,000

The first Victoria Cross medal awarded to a civiilian has been sold by Noonan's Auctions in London for a world record price of £930,000.

Thomas Henry Kavanagh Victoria Cross sells for £930,000
Image: Noonan's


The Victoria Cross had been awarded to Irishman Thomas Henry Kavanagh for his actions in defence of the British Residency at the Siege of Lucknow during the Indian Rebellion of 1857.

Civil Servant Kavanagh disguised himself a local Indian soldier and volunteered to leave the Residency and navigate the enemy entrenchments.

Avoiding capture in an epic quest to the British military post at the Alambagh, 4 miles south of the Residency, Kavanagh then guided the relief attempt back to the Residency.

For his actions Kavanagh was the first of five civilians to be awarded the Victoria Cross.

Oliver Pepys, Associate Director and Medal Specialist at Noonans said: “Kavanagh’s gallantry at Lucknow 165 years ago stands out as one of the most premeditated and sustained acts of gallantry in the history of the Victoria Cross and the price achieved at auction demonstrates the high regard which Kavanagh is still held in today.”

The previous auction record holder was the VC of Australian soldier Private Edward Kenna, which sold for £678,000 in 2011.

Kenna 's VC was awarded for taking out an enemy machine gun post, which he did from a standing position firing his bren gun from his hip, in full sight of the enemy 50 yards away, as he was unable to fire from the cover of his trench.

The highest price ever paid for a Victoria Cross is the £1,500,000  paid in 2009 by Lord Ashcroft for the VC of Captain Noel Godfrey Chavasse, one of only three people to be awarded the VC twice.

Both Chavasse's VC's were awarded for his actions in retireving wounded colleagues  from the front line whilst under enemy fire, at Guillemont in France on August 9th 1916 and at Wieltje in Belgium between 31st July and 2nd August 1917, from which he died from his injuries two days later. 


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