The Victoria Cross (VC) is the most prestigious award in the British honours system, recognising acts of extreme bravery in the face of the enemy. Created in 1856, the VC has been awarded to several black service personnel.
William Hall was the first black serviceman to receive the VC. He was the son of escaped American slaves and joined the British Royal Navy, serving on HMS Shannon during the Crimean War. When a mutiny among the Indian sepoy soldiers broke out, Hall was dispatched to Calcutta to join a relief force. As the situation worsened, Hall and his officer, Lieutenant Thomas Young, were left to blast their way through Lecknow with eight-inch guns and twenty-four-pound howitzers. Hall was awarded the VC in recognition of his valiant efforts.