On this day in 1856 the first Victoria Cross was awarded during the bombardment of Bomarsund in the Åland Islands.
The VC was introduced on 29 January 1856 by Queen Victoria to honour acts of valour during the Crimean War.
Since then, the medal has been awarded 1,357 times to 1,354 individual recipients. Only 14 medals, ten to members of the British Army, and four to the Australian Army, have been awarded since the Second World War.
The traditional explanation of the source of the gunmetal from which the medals are struck is that it derives from Russian cannon captured at the Siege of Sevastopol.
Recent research has thrown doubt on this story, suggesting a variety of origins for the material actually making up the medals themselves.
Research has established that the gunmetal for many of the medals came from Chinese cannons that may have been captured from the Russians in 1855.