The Elizabeth Cross

The Elizabeth Cross

The Elizabeth Cross was instated in 2009. It is granted to the next of kin of Armed Forces personnel killed on operations or as a result of terrorism as a mark of national recognition for their loss.

Named the Elizabeth Cross, this is the first time since the George Cross was instituted in 1940 by King George VI that the name of a reigning monarch has been given to a new award. Prior to this, the Victoria Cross was introduced by Queen Victoria in 1856 for acts of gallantry by the Armed Forces.

The award is made to the families of those who died in conflicts dating back to 1948, including the Korean War, the Malayan Emergency, the Falklands conflict and operations in Northern Ireland as well as more recent operations in Iraq and Afghanistan.

The award was inspired by precedents from the First and Second World Wars. A scroll and memorial plaque were presented to the families of those killed in World War One. A scroll was given to the families of those who died in World War Two and in the Korean War in the early 1950s.

Those receiving this honour receive two pinned sterling silver emblems, one full size for formal remembrance events and a miniature version for less formal events. The reverse of the cross is engraved with the name of the person in whose memory it is granted.

In a message to Her Armed Forces, Her Majesty The Queen said:

“This seems to me a right and proper way of showing our enduring debt to those who are killed while actively protecting what is most dear to us all. The solemn dignity which we attach to the names of those who have fallen is deeply engrained in our national character. As a people, we accord this ultimate sacrifice the highest honour and respect.”

“I greatly hope that the Elizabeth Cross will give further meaning to the nation’s debt of gratitude to the families and loved ones of those who have died in the service of our country. We will remember them all.”

The Museum holds just one Elizabeth Cross in its collection, which previously belonged to Diana Ruffell, the sister of Lt Forbes Hugh Wallace (6GR) and was presented to her by the county’s Lord Lieutenant in 2014.

On the 16th August 1963 Lt. Wallace led a detachment of C Company of 2nd Battalion 6th Queen Elizabeth’s Own Gurkha Rifles, alongside a small SAS training unit to investigate reports of an incursion of Indonesian troops across the border with Borneo during the conflict known as the Borneo Confrontation. Wallace’s unit soon made contact but sadly he was killed during the ensuing combat. Follow-up operations over the ensuing 14 days led to the Gurkhas pursuing and inflicting some 13-15 casualties on the Indonesian insurgents.

In 2018 Mike Channing wrote a moving tribute to Hugh Wallace, which featured in the 6GR Journal that year, the extract below tells of the death of Lt Hugh Wallace during the Confrontation.

“Borneo was, and largely is, covered by tropical jungle. A Burma veteran from the Second World War describes jungle warfare as ‘like a gigantic game of blind mans buff, played in a Turkish bath, with one hand tied behind your back.’ It was into this alien environment that Hugh went on his first operation, where movement is restricted to largely unmarked tracks or streambeds. He had been trained for this but, in common with other younger officers and many young men under his command, had yet to experience it for real. Hugh was killed some time between 16 August and the finding of his body on the morning of 18 August 1963, during the very early stages of the ‘war’ that became known as the Confrontation.”

Hugh Wallace’s Elizabeth Cross, along with other items, was presented to The Gurkha Museum in November 2018 by Hugh’s brother in law Donald Ruffell. The Elizabeth Cross with miniature, the framed memorial scroll and Hugh’s Malaysian Service Medal are currently on display in The Gurkha Museum.

Photos from l to r: Lt Hugh Wallace, grave of Lt Wallace 6GR in Ulu Pandan, Singapore, Lt Wallace funeral, Elizabeth Cross, which previously belonged to Lt Wallace’s sister Diana.

© The Gurkha Museum Trust Winchester - Registered Charity Number 1169920 (formerly 272426)