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Author, film researcher and member of the Swedish Military History Commission.

Monday, December 03, 2012

First Victoria Cross Won Close to Sweden

Here, at Bomarsund in Finland, the very first Victoria Cross was won.

It is not every day that I am really surprised by military history. But today is such a day. I have learnt that the very first Victoria Cross was won during the Crimean War on one of the Finnish Åland Islands.

The first action to render a Victoria Cross (VC) was fought not that far from our capital, Stockholm. The man behind the heroism in 1854 was Charles Davis Lucas. I learnt this from a very short letter published in the latest issue of the Swedish journal Militär Historia, i.e. Military History.

I also learnt, from some online articles, that the fall of Bomarsund was seen as a large victory in France. In fact, there is an inscription to that effect on the Arc de Triomphe in Paris.

Incidentally, the latest VC recipient, Bryan Budd, was born in Northern Ireland, just like the very first recipient.

After peace was signed in Paris in 1856, Russia promised not to have any military infrastructure on the Åland Islands, and they have ever since been a demilitarised area. Residents are also exempt from conscription to the Finnish Defence Forces.


  1. Yep, a lot of military history has taken place close to Sweden... Lucky (a tinytiny bit selfish?) you, not in Sweden ;)

  2. Residents of the Åland Islands are not exempt from Finnish military service due to the demilitarised status of the Åland Islands province, but due to their right to use solely Swedish language. Even though Finland trains mainland Swedish speaking conscripts in Swedish language training units, the simple commands like "fire", "attention" etc., are in Finnish. Residents of the Åland Islands may participate in the military training as volunteers, and some do.

    They have a legak duty to train in the (sea) pilot department of the province, but this has never been implemented.