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The Victoria Cross: For Valour (2003)

TV Movie  -  Documentary | War  -  4 November 2003 (UK)
8.6
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Jeremey Clarkson examines the history of the Victoria Cross, and follows the story of one of the 1,354 men who were awarded it - Major Robert Henry Cain.

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Title: The Victoria Cross: For Valour (TV Movie 2003)

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Jeremey Clarkson examines the history of the Victoria Cross, and follows the story of one of the 1,354 men who were awarded it - Major Robert Henry Cain.

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Documentary | War

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Of the five men awarded the Victoria Cross for Operation Market Garden, Major Cain was the only survivor. See more »

Quotes

Jeremy Clarkson: [on Major Cain] His family didn't *know* he'd won a Victoria Cross until after he died. He hadn't thought to mention it.
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Heroes.
22 December 2014 | by (Deming, New Mexico, USA) – See all my reviews

An informative and well-presented story of the history of the Victoria Cross with an emphasis on the exploits of one recipient at the Battle of Arnhem in 1944, Robert Cain.

Jeremy Clarkson is the hulking, unprepossessing host with an endearingly droopy face. He is as puzzled as anyone else about what it is that drives a man to such dazzling heroic heights.

One winner, not mentioned in the program, was a crew member in a crippled Wellington bomber over Germany. The damage was such that the engine was failing, the spars in the wing were exposed and the wing itself wobbling and threatening to break away. A small hole was broken in the Plexiglas of the cockpit window. The crew man -- I forget his name -- volunteered to crawl out onto the wing to see what could be done. The hole, however, was too small for both him and his parachute, so he stripped it off, tied a line around his waist, crawled out on the flapping wing, and repaired enough of the damage to enable the airplane to reach home. If I'd seen this in a 1943 feature film, I'd think it was war-time claptrap.

Victoria Crosses are becoming rarer, not quite extinct, because the nature of modern warfare is different. No one charges into the enemy lines waving a saber. They shoot a tow missile at a distant target. The winner must have committed a selfless act in order to be recommended. But how about the wounded pilot who brings has shattered airplane, his broken limbs, and his terrified crew members back to his base and lands his ship safely? "There is an element of self interest in it," says one document. We can call it The Wounded Pilot paradox. You can save the airplane and the men, but in doing so you disqualify yourself because you're saving your own ass as well.

The medals themselves are struck from a chunk of cheap brass hacked off a captured Chinese-made cannon in the Crimea. They're worthless until a small shop in London engraves the name of the recipient on the back.

Clarkson is in awe of VC winners. It's understandable. We all are. As a behavioral scientist, I'd love to know more about what prompts a man to do such things. The program itself provides no answers.

It's obviously some combination of environmental circumstances and organic features. We all have a built-in "fight or flight" response in our mid-brains. But what -- or who -- pulls the trigger in favor of "fight" instead of "flight"?


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