By Neil Sears
It is the first Victoria Cross to be earned by a British Army soldier - and it comes with a macabre accessory.
The medal awarded to Major John Simpson Knox is being auctioned with the cannonball that took his left arm during the Crimean War.
A fellow soldier picked up the missile that hit Major Knox and later gave it to him.
The VC and cannonball are expected to fetch up to £120,000 at auction in London next month.
Major Knox was an exceptionally tall boy who ran away from his home in Glasgow and managed to join the Scots Fusilier Guards when he was 14, under the legal age for enlisting.
Despite his youth he was swiftly promoted and was an acting sergeant major by the start of the Crimean War in 1854.
Britain and France had joined forces to take on Russia in the Crimean peninsula in the Black Sea - and Knox was among the soldiers to sail there.
It was on September 20, 1854 that Knox performed his first of two acts of valour that secured him the VC.
It is the earliest date upon which any British Army soldier earned a VC, predated only by three Royal Navy sailors.
He was taking part in the Battle of the River Alma, and according to the citation for his medal, he 'acted with conspicuous courage in reforming the ranks of the Guards at a decisive moment of the action'.
His second act, cited when he received his VC, came in June the following year, when he was serving as a lieutenant with the Rifle Brigade, and volunteered for an attack using ladders on heavily defended Russian positions.
According to the citation: 'He remained in the field until he was twice wounded, all the time acting with great gallantry.'
It was during that attack, on a fortress defending the city of Sebastopol, that Knox was struck on the left arm by a cannonball, two inches in diameter, that was picked up and handed to him by a comrade.
Knox kept a scrapbook of copies of letters recording his experiences - including of the days which secured him the VC, Britain's highest award for gallantry.
Medal expert Oliver Pepys, of Spink auctioneers, which is offering the VC for sale next month, said: 'Major Knox showed incredible bravery, losing his arm to cannon fire in the process.
'The lot is fascinating, the medal is being sold with a Russian cannonball, the very one that smashed into Knox's arm. In all my years of working with rare medals and war artefacts I have never seen a more unusual keepsake.
'We have researched the circumstances around the loss of Major Knox's arm and have discovered a fellow soldier picked up the ball and gave it to him as a memento.
'This medal is of huge historical significance, the VC is still the highest honour a soldier can receive.'
Mr Pepys said his research had shown that on the day of Major Knox's second VC citation, his left arm was hit twice - first by the cannonball and then, minutes later, by a small piece of grapeshot. The two hits meant it had to be amputated at the socket urgently.
The Victoria Cross was instituted in 1856. The medals were - and still are - cast from bronze taken from cannons captured from the Russians at Sebastopol.
After the Crimean War, Knox married, had seven children, and served as a musketry instructor until retiring in 1872 as a Major.
He was then a governor of prisons and died in Cheltenham aged 68 in 1897.
The VC is being sold alongside three other medals he was awarded - the Crimea Medal, the French Legion of Honour and the Turkish Crimea Medal. The seller is remaining anonymous.