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Nov 23, 2010

Lord Ashcroft’s World War memorabilia on display

Also in London, Lord Michael Ashcroft has put on display at the Imperial War Museum, a rare collection of World War memorabilia he has been collecting since boyhood.  An assortment of two hundred and forty-one Victoria Crosses, the highest military decoration for members of the armed forces in the Commonwealth and previous British Empire, are currently available for viewing. Lord Ashcroft was interviewed by the BBC about the vast assembly of war medals.

Stories of unimaginable bravery lie behind the world’s biggest collection of Victoria Crosses which has gone on display at the Imperial War Museum in London. The two hundred and forty-one Victoria and George Crosses are owned by the former Conservative Party deputy Chairman, Lord Ashcroft who has spent a lifetime collecting them. He said his fascination with the awards started as a boy upon hearing stories his father told him about being one of the first to land on Sword Beach at Normandy.

Lord Michael Ashcroft

Lord Michael Ashcroft

“Not an unusual story for many of the brave men in our military, but for me it was—it was my father. And so that gave me a fascination, I became a school boy geek on Normandy that led me to Victoria Cross reading the stories of heroism and always a desire and hope one day that I could actually own a Victoria Cross.”

Lance Corporal Johnson Beharry features in the exhibition. He was awarded the VC in 2004 after serving in Iraq becoming the youngest ever living person to receive the accolade.

Lance Corporal Johnson Beharry

johnson beharry

“Standing here next to my portrait, next to my VC, next to my helmet that actually saved my life—knowing this is history—words can’t describe it. It’s humbling.”

There is no common thread along the recipients of the awards—nothing which would mark them out as likely to be brave.

“I think this is the basis for the courageous acts that we see here, the training takes over. A lot of people talk about that; the training kicks in, the training takes over. In many cases you don’t have time to think about it.”

One hundred and sixty-two other medals are also on display representing conflicts from the Crimean to the Falklands.

Immediately after tonight’s news, we will be airing the statement by Lord Ashcroft at the opening of the Exhibition at the Imperial War Museum.

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