Double award of Victoria Cross sells for £1.5m

The highest gallantry medal for members of the British Commonwealth and armed forces - the only double Victoria Cross to be awarded during the First World War - has sold for nearly £1.5m.

This particular medal was famously awarded to Liverpool-born British Army officer Noel Godfrey Chavasse, VC and Bar, MC (born November 9, 1884, died August 4, 1917).

Chavasse's VC and Bar, equivalent to two VCs, was donated by his family to Peter's College, Oxford, years ago.

The buyer was the Billionaire Conservative peer Lord Ashcroft, a preeminent expert on the VC and its winners and leading champion of their legacy.

The VC and Bar
The Victoria Cross: the highest award for members of the British Commonwealth and armed forces

Over 150 years, only three of the (to date) 1,353 awarded VC recipients have earned the distinction of the added bar, which is equal to a second Victoria Cross. (New Zealander Charles Upham's double award was recently returned after it was stolen.)

Chavasse's double VC was awarded for two separate acts of gallantry in the Great War.

His first VC was presented on August 9, 1916, in Guillemont, France. Over two days, he had saved the lives of around 20 wounded men, tending to them under heavy fire within enemy lines.

He displayed further heroism at Wieltje, Belgium. Though severely injured himself, Chavasse again saved many lives while under heavy shell fire. He later died from his wounds.

The bar was added to Chavasse's VC between July 31 and August 2 1917.

Chavasse's VC and bar and other medals will be displayed in the new Lord Ashcroft Gallery. It is being built at the Imperial War Museum, funded by a £5m donation from Ashcroft.

Lord Ashcroft, 63, began his collection of VCs in 1986. It has since grown into the largest collection of VCs in the world, estimated to be worth over £30m.

The VC and Bar will be displayed alongside the Museum's other VCs and George Crosses.

"I always felt that the collection would never be compete unless it had a VC and Bar in it - and this is the ultimate VC and Bar. It has a spectacular story to it in terms of sustained bravery," said a thrilled Lord Ashcroft, according to the Sunday Telegraph.

"Day after day this man was risking his life in the trenches to save his comrades."

The Victoria Cross and Bar is made from priceless metal, melted from two antique Chinese bronze cannon stored in Woolwich. According to historian John Glanfield, the Chinese guns' origins remain an "impenetrable mystery".

Just last week Bill Reid's Victoria Cross was sold for a record-breaking £348,000.

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