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Display of Britain’s Highest Award for Bravery – The Victoria Cross 26 July 2005

    The historic bravery medal won by a Manx soldier in World War Two goes on display at the Manx Museum on Friday 5th August and Saturday 6th August 2005.

    Major CainFor two days only, visitors to the Manx Museum will be able to see the Victoria Cross won by Major Robert Henry Cain at the battle of Arnhem. Cain won Britain’s highest award from bravery during the week long battle for the Dutch town, and his citation states that his “coolness and courage under incessant fire could not be surpassed”.

    In spite of suffering multiple wounds, Cain continued to inspire and encourage his men, and personally knocked out half a dozen enemy tanks.

    Matthew Richardson, Manx National Heritage Curator for Social History, said:

    “Before his death, Major Cain presented his Victoria Cross to the Museum of the Staffordshire Regiment, and the regimental trustees have kindly agreed to the loan of Major Cain’s medal and other artefacts – believed to be the first time they have ever been on public display on the Isle of Man”.

    The Victoria Cross, Britain’s highest award for bravery in the face of the enemy, was instituted by Queen Victoria during the Crimean War, to recognise heroic acts by her soldiers. The medal is made from bronze, taken from Russian cannon captured in the Crimea. The ribbon is of plain crimson – it was felt at the time that the medal should not be overly gaudy, as it was not intended to outshine the deed for which it was awarded. A scroll on the front of the medal carries the words ‘For Valour’, whilst the reverse is engraved with the name of the recipient and the date of the action. VC

    Matthew Richardson continued:

    “Manx National Heritage is delighted to have the opportunity to display such a prestigious medal at the Manx Museum, and I would like to express my thanks to the trustees of the Museum of the Staffordshire Regiment for agreeing to the loan and to Major Cain’s daughter, Mrs Frances Clarkson who has kindly agreed to open the exhibition ”.

    The battle for Arnhem – immortalised in the book and film ‘A Bridge Too Far’ by Cornelius Ryan, was the brainchild of Field Marshal Bernard Montgomery. In an attempt to foreshorten the war in Europe by several months, he conceived of a plan to drop 10,000 paratroopers thirty miles behind enemy lines in Holland, and to capture a string of bridges over the River Rhine, thus unlocking the door to Germany. In spite of the bravery of the men involved, the plan ended in failure. The paratroopers ran into unexpectedly heavy opposition, and lightly armed, were unable to hold on until allied reinforcements reached them.

    Members of the public will have the opportunity to view Major Cain’s Victoria Cross medal from 10am to 5pm on Friday 5th August 2005 and 10am to 4pm on Saturday 6th August 2005.

    The Manx Museum is part of the award-winning Story of Mann and admission is free of charge.

    26th July 2005

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