Nation honours the bravest of the brave

THE Prince of Wales and the Duchess of Cornwall yesterday paid tribute to current and former holders of the Victoria Cross and the George Cross.

Charles, president of the Victoria Cross and George Cross Association, and Camilla joined a congregation of 850 at St Martin-on-the-Field's Church in London for the remembrance event. Following the service, the royal couple held a reception for gallantry medal holders, widows of past holders and other guests at St James's Palace.

Lance Corporal Johnson Beharry, who was awarded the Victoria Cross in 2005, was among the guests. He said: "This is my second service and I just enjoyed the moment. It's great to be around a lot of VC holders as we don't see each other very often."

Speaking about life as a VC holder, he said: "I enjoy every moment of it but I'm still having (medical] treatment – I have to deal with both ends of the package."

The VC is the highest military gallantry award and the George Cross is the highest civilian award, but it can also by given to soldiers whose acts of bravery are not conducted in the face of the enemy.

From tackling bulls to defusing bombs, from the age of 24 to 94: a who's who of heroics

1 Henry Flintoff GC, aged 77:

Stopped a runaway bull in North Yorkshire in 1944.

2 Awang anak Raweng, GC, 82:

Serving as a tracker in Malaya as part of 1st Battalion Worcestershire Regiment. His platoon was attacked by 50 communist terrorists. He was wounded, but pulled a fellow soldier to safety and repulsed further attacks.

3 Keith Payne, VC, 75:

While with the 1st Mobile Strike Force Battalion in Vietnam in 1969, he secured the withdrawal of his men while injured and under fire.

4 Dr Dick Butson GC, 85:

Was involved in a rescue mission down a glacial crevasse in the Falklands in 1947.

5 Corp Willie Apiata VC, 36:

Carried a wounded comrade across a battlefield in Afghanistan in 2004.

6 Corporal of Horse Chris Finney GC, 24:

A member of the Blues and Royals, he twice returned to a burning car in Iraq to rescue his gunner and driver.

7 Kevin Walton, GC, 90:

Involved in rescue mission down a glacial crevasse in the Falklands in 1947.

8 Derek Kinne, GC, 78:

Withstood torture at hands of Chinese Communist forces during the Korean War in 1951.

9 Jack Bamford, GC, 71:

Saved two boys from a house fire in Newthorpe, Nottinghamshire, in 1952 by crawling through the flames into their bedroom.

10 Lance Corporal Johnson Beharry, VC, 29:

Twice saved members of his unit from ambushes in 2004 at Al-Amarah, Iraq. Sustained serious head injuries, requiring brain surgery.

11 Barry Johnson, GC, 56:

Defused a mortar bomb in Derry, Northern Ireland, in 1989. It detonated, causing him serious injury.

12 Michael Pratt, GC, 53:

As a policeman, while off-duty he tackled three armed men trying to rob a bank in Australia in 1976. Blocking the entrance with his own car, he took on the men while armed only with a car jack. Shot and badly hurt.

13 Henry Stevens, GC, 80:

While on patrol as a policeman in London in 1958, he chased a burglar and was shot in the mouth. He still grappled with the man who was finally arrested.

14 Alf Lowe, GC, 77:

Serving on HMS Illustrious in 1948, Mr Lowe was involved in a rescue while the ship was in Portland Harbour in Weymouth.

15 John Gregson, GC, 84:

As an apprentice with the Merchant Navy, played part in a shipboard rescue in 1943.

16 Charles Walker, GC, 94:

As a petty officer with the Royal Navy, was involved in a rescue during convoy to Malta in 1942.

17 Jim McDonald, Chairman of the Royal Ulster Constabulary GC Foundation

Representing his force which was awarded a collective George Cross in 1999 for fighting terrorism in the 30 years of Ulster's Troubles, during which 302 of its officers were killed.

18 Margaret Purves (nee Vaughan), GC, 73:

Swam into sea against current to rescue three Scouts cut off by rising tide off Glamorgan coast in 1949.

19 Col Stuart Archer, GC, 93:

As Second-Lieutenant with the Corps of Royal Engineers, worked on defusing 200 German bombs, in 1940-41.

20 Dr Michael Refalo, High Commissioner for Malta, GC:

Representing his country which was honoured in 1942 with a collective GC for its resilience to 3,000 enemy bombing raids.

21 Flight Lt John Cruickshank, VC, 88:

As a flying officer with the RAF, on 17 July, 1944, his aircraft was hit while on anti-submarine patrol. With one crew member dead, the others injured, he sustained 12 wounds but still managed to release his depth charges, sinking a U-boat. He then helped to fly his plane back, despite passing out several times from his injuries.

22 Jim Beaton, GC, 65:

As the Queen's Police Officer, Chief Superintendent Beaton received the George Cross in 1974 for protecting Princess Anne from a kidnapper during an attack in The Mall. The attacker had shot the chauffeur and was trying to drag the princess from the car. The officer was shot in the thigh.

23 Tony Gledhill, GC, 70:

Displayed heroism on 25 August 1966 while a constable in the Metropolitan Police. He and his partner were on patrol when they were ordered to chase a car driving the wrong way down a one-way street. Fifteen shots were fired at their car during the ensuing chase. The criminals' car crashed into a lorry and they attacked the officers, injuring them, but they managed to subdue the men until help arrived.

24 Rambahadur Limbu, VC, 67

As a Lance-Corporal in the 2nd Battalion, 10th Princess Mary's Own Gurkha Rifles, during the Indonesian Confrontation. On 21 November 1965 in Sarawak, Borneo, he rescued two comrades and their weapon while under fire from an enemy gunner whom he then charged down and killed.

25 Major Peter Norton, GC, 45:

Major Norton, of the Royal Logistic Corps, was awarded the George Cross for his service in Iraq. In 2005, while going to the aid of a US army patrol which had been hit by roadside bomb, he was hit by a second device and lost his left leg and part of his left arm. He continued to give instructions and refused to be evacuated until situation was under control.

26 Lieutenant Tul Bahadur Pun, VC.