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Heroic Acts on Reverse of Gold Proof 2006 Fifty Pence
Soldier Carrying Fallen Comrade on 2005 Fifty Pence
Revised Version
2006 Fifty Pence - 150th Anniversary of the First VC Victoria Cross in 1856

According to the Daily Telegraph:

Brown rejects design for VC coin as too gloomy By Neil Tweedie (Filed: 21/06/2005) Gordon Brown has vetoed a new design for the 50p piece celebrating the creation of the Victoria Cross because it shows a British soldier about to be shot in the back. The Chancellor, who must authorise currency designs before submitting them to the Queen for final approval, is said to prefer a more "positive" image for the back of the coin, which will be issued next year to mark the 150th year of the country's highest award for gallantry in the face of the enemy. He was unimpressed by the sculptor Clive Duncan's depiction of a soldier attempting to carry a wounded comrade to safety while caught in the cross-hairs of an enemy sniper's rifle. However, a friend of the artist yesterday described Mr Brown as championing a "histrionic rather than realistic" approach to the subject of bravery under fire. In a letter to the Royal Mint, a member of Mr Brown's private office requested that "further thought" be given to the design before it was referred to Buckingham Palace. The letter went on: "He [Mr Brown] appreciates the designer's attempt to portray the courage and selflessness of the British soldier carrying a wounded comrade while under fire, but he feels that the particular image of a British soldier apparently about to be shot in the back will not seem appropriate to many people, particularly to the families of fallen servicemen and women." The rejection has caused some embarrassment to the Mint, which is used to having its designs accepted by the Treasury. The offending "gloomy" version was chosen by the Royal Mint Advisory Committee, chaired by Sir Christopher Frayling, chairman of the Arts Council. Some 30 million new 50p pieces are due to be issued to celebrate the VC. Protocol dictates that Mr Duncan cannot comment on matters relating to his work for the Royal Mint. But a friend said that the sculptor, who has also designed a limited edition £5 coin commemorating the 200th anniversary of Trafalgar, was very irritated by the Chancellor's intervention. The friend said: "He [Mr Duncan] was anxious to portray the reality of behaving bravely under fire. "The most frightening aspect of combat is often the unseen enemy, the concealed sniper who strikes without warning against those who are exposed and vulnerable. In battle, people feel vulnerable and afraid. Those who manage to master those feelings are very brave. "Clive did not want to take the histrionic route - the Victorian, banner-waving approach. We allow our children to play all manner of violent video games - violence with cherries on top. The design for the coin was meant to do justice to the cold reality of combat." The Royal Mint maintained a discreet silence yesterday, stating: "The Royal Mint does not comment on new designs for coins until they have received the formal approval of the Queen." But a Treasury spokesman said: "The process is now for the Mint to come back with some suggested alternative design, and Treasury officials are in touch with them about that." The Victoria Cross was instituted by Royal Warrant on June 29 1856, and is said to have been the idea of Albert, the Prince Consort. It ranks with the George Cross as the nation's ultimate recognition of courage. Bearing the inscription "For Valour", the medal is cast from the metal of Russian guns captured during the Crimean War. In April, Private Johnson Beharry, 25, of the Princess of Wales's Royal Regiment, became the first person to be awarded the VC since the Falklands War of 1982. The award recognised his "outstanding gallantry" while in action near Al Amarah in southern Iraq in 2004.

From the BBC:

Brown calls for VC coin redesign Private Johnson Beharry Private Beharry was awarded the VC after saving colleagues in Iraq Gordon Brown has urged the Royal Mint to redesign a coin commemorating the Victoria Cross because it appears to show a soldier being shot in the back. The 50p piece, marking 150 years of the prestigious medal, shows a soldier carrying a wounded colleague, apparently in the sights of enemy fire. In a letter to the Royal Mint, the chancellor's aides say the image will "not seem appropriate" to many people. About 30m coins are expected to be issued next year. Courage In the letter, published in The Sun, Mr Brown's aides say: "Before he (Mr Brown) writes to HM The Queen to request approval he would like further thought to be given to the design. "He appreciates the designer's attempt to portray the courage and selflessness of the British soldier carrying a wounded comrade while under fire. "But he feels that the particular image of a British soldier apparently about to be shot in the back will not seem appropriate to many people." A Treasury spokeswoman said: "We are in ongoing discussions with the Royal Mint over the design of the commemorative coin and we expect an announcement in due course." Highest award The coin was the work of sculptor Clive Dunn, who also designed a £5 coin marking the 200th anniversary of the Battle of Trafalgar. The Victoria Cross is the highest award in the British and Commonwealth military. Private Johnson Beharry, 25, became the first living recipient of the VC since 1969. He received the award in April after he twice saved the lives of colleagues under enemy fire in Iraq.

Times Online:-

Reality check AS CHANCELLOR of the Exchequer, Gordon Brown, is (ex-officio) Master of the Royal Mint, but he has not, I gather, made himself popular with the Deputy Master, who does all the work, or with the dedicated ranks of Britain's numismatists. His offence? Turning down a design submitted to him for a new 50p coin planned for next year to commemorate the 150th anniversary of the Victoria Cross. The winning entry, by sculptor Clive Duncan, depicted a British soldier carrying a wounded comrade to safety with both of them being framed in the hairline sights of an enemy sniper. The Chancellor apparently wanted something more robust, nearer to the exploits of John Wayne or Alan Ladd in the Hollywood movies. I understand his feelings - but, alas, that is not what real war is actually like.
2006 VC - Both Types & Britannia

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