A schedule of special events in June 1956 marked one hundred years since the Victoria Cross was established by Queen Victoria in 1856 to honour the greatest acts of valour in the face of an enemy.
Living recipients throughout the Empire and Commonwealth were invited to attend the ceremonies. In addition, next-of-kin of deceased VC recipients were invited.
It was in the latter capacity that my grandmother, Mary Helen Peters Dewdney (known as “Helen” by her friends and “Gran” by her family) travelled from her home in Nelson, British Columbia to England to represent her late brother, Capt. Frederic Thornton “Fritz” Peters, VC, DSO,. DSC and bar, DSC (U.S.), RN at the centennial celebrations. It was the first time she visited Britain since studying piano as a girl at the Royal Conservatory of Music in London.
As an Anglophile and a keen student of history, she enjoyed visiting historic venues such as Windsor Castle during the centennial program, but she disliked the marches and music that reminded her of losing not just Fritz in the Second World War, but also brothers Gerald and Jack in the First World War. She also lost several close cousins and friends in the world wars.
Images of some of the memorabilia Helen brought home from England are shown here.
Below are the cover and inside spread of a cabaret and tea for the VC centennial participants, including British entertainers such as Benny Hill.