Air of Authority - A History of RAF Organisation

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Airmen awarded the George Medal 1940-1941

[1940-1941 | 1942-1943 | 1944-1945]

This section contains the citations that appeared in the London Gazette in 1940 and 1941, although some of the actions for the awards were  made took place earlier: -

513955 Sergeant Douglas Jobson, Royal Air Force.

139753 Driver Eric Owen Guraham, Royal Army Service Corps.

On 14th July, 1940, Sergeant Jobson and Driver Gurnham displayed great coolness and gallantry when a Battle aircraft crashed, and burst into flames outside an aerodrome. Driver Gurnham was the first on the scene of the accident, followed by Sergeant Jobson about one minute later. Despite the flames and ammunition which was bursting in all directions, the two men climbed on to the wreckage and succeeded in extricating the pilot who had a broken leg. A petrol tank exploded just after the rescue had been effected. Sergeant Jobson and Driver Gurnham, with complete disregard for their personal safety, undoubtedly saved the life of the pilot.

(London Gazette 24 December 1940)

Pilot Officer James Joseph Patrick DUDLEY (87563), Royal Air Force Volunteer Reserve.

One morning in October, 1940, a hangar had been badly damaged by incendiary bombs. Although he knew that there were unexploded bombs in the hangar, Pilot Officer Dudley led the fire fighting party with such skill and gallantry that the fire was prevented from spreading and three aircraft were saved. When this station was again attacked one evening later in the month, he rallied the fire fighters, removed an aircraft from a burning Bessoneau, and then fought the fire which he brought under control with amazing speed.

(London Gazette 21 January 1941)

Warrant Officer Edward George ALFORD (335383)

This warrant officer has displayed great gallantry and skill in disposing of a large number of unexploded bombs, never hesitating to deal with them immediately if he considered their presence was affecting the operational efficiency of the station.

(London Gazette 21 January 1941)

Warrant Officer Edmund George HUNT (359883).

This warrant officer has dealt with unexploded bombs after six enemy bombing attacks on the aerodrome. On one occasion, while assisting an officer he was blown 20 yards; but in spite of this he has continued to show a complete disregard for his own safety and his gallant actions have been instrumental in keeping the aerodrome operationally serviceable.

(London Gazette 21 January 1941)

Warrant Officer James Victor SAUNDERS (201690).

This warrant officer has been in charge of parties dealing with the many unexploded bombs which nave fallen on the aerodrome. He has carried out his duties often in very difficult circumstances, and has shown high courage and devotion to duty.

(London Gazette 21 January 1941)

968365 Sergeant Dudley Farquhar ALLEN.

In September, 1940, this airman was the turret gunner of an aircraft which crashed in dense mist; he was dazed by a heavy blow on the head and his parachute harness was entangled with the seat. Although the compartment door was jammed, Sergeant Allen succeeded in forcing his way out of the wreckage and, in spite of the fact that the aircraft was on fire, he proceeded with great energy and resolution to extricate the unconscious bodies of three of the crew at the risk of his own life. Undeterred by the increasing intensity of the heat and fumes from the burning wreckage, and amid exploding ammunition, he then endeavoured to find the pilot, but was unsuccessful. Unaware, owing to the dense mist, that the crash had occurred on the aerodrome, Sergeant Allen removed the unconscious man to a safe distance from the flames before assistance arrived. It was due to his efforts that the three members of the crew were not burned with the aircraft, though unfortunately they subsequently died from injuries sustained during the crash.

(London Gazette 21 January 1941)

515738 Sergeant Kenneth LYTHGOE.

1300504 Aircraftman 2nd Class Richard NICHOLSON.

998918 Aircraftman 2nd Class Arthur SIMPSON.

These airmen, as members of a demolition party, have handled enemy bombs with great courage and disregard for their personal safety, on various dates during July, August and September, 1940.

(London Gazette 21 January 1941)

158305 Leading Aircraftman Richard John FARLEY.

820067 Aircraftman 1st Class Thomas William COOP.

In September, 1940, an aircraft crashed on an aerodrome and immediately burst into flames. Aircraftman Coop promptly ran to the burning aircraft and endeavoured to extricate the pilot. In spite of the flames, and regardless of the additional danger from exploding ammunition, Leading Aircraftman Farley unhesitatingly ran to his assistance and, plunging his arms into the blazing cockpit, released the legs of the pilot, who was apparently stunned and whose clothes were in flames. Between them the airmen carried him to a safe distance, thereby saving him from certain death. In spite of superficial burns on arms and legs Leading Aircraftman Farley returned to his normal duties. By their action these two airmen showed great courage and complete disregard for their personal safety. Unfortunately the pilot later succumbed to his injuries.

(London Gazette 21 January 1941)

548427 Leading Aircraftman Ronald Sidney PRIOR.

In August, 1940, this airman, while on leave in London, showed conspicuous bravery by entering an aircraft which had crashed and caught fire in a street of houses after the pilot had descended by parachute. One gun was firing to the danger of the people in the vicinity, and ammunition in the aircraft was exploding. Despite the danger of the petrol tank exploding at any moment and the fact that he sustained burns to his hands and arms in the process, which necessitated subsequent medical attention. Leading Aircraftman Prior succeeded in gaining access to the gun and removing the back plate in an endeavour to arrest the continued functioning of the gun.

(London Gazette 21 January 1941)

956216 Aircraftman, 2nd Class, Horace Dews, Royal Air Force.

During a heavy air raid an A.F.S. crew were endeavouring to release a woman and child who were pinned against the basement wall of a demolished building by an iron girder. Fire was raging at the time and the whole building had collapsed upon the basement, out of which therefore there was no exit. The woman and child could be plainly seen down the side cellar wall and frantic efforts were made to release them, as the heat was intense and the smoke suffocating. Numerous members of the A.F.S. had given valuable assistance, but the combination of the heat and smoke had caused them to become exhausted. At this point, Aircraftman Dews took up a position full length on the debris and dug away with his hands at the rubble surrounding the woman but could not make a very substantial hole as the way was blocked by a dead body, an iron girder and baulks of timber. It was evident that the only thing to do was to get into the hole which had been made and try to release, at least, the child, because the heat and smoke were becoming more intense. Aircraftman Dews immediately volunteered. He forced his body, head foremost into the hole, but several times he had to extricate himself on account of the heat. This was overcome by playing the hose upon him actually as he was in the hole. At last he reached the child and crawled back with her in his arms. Dews then freed the woman, who was pulled out of the hole. Shortly after their release the fire spread to the spot where they had been trapped.

(London Gazette 25 February 1941)

The Reverend Stanley William Harrison. Royal Air Force.

One night in November, 1940, an aircraft crashed and burst into flames about three miles from the aerodrome and, although it was not his duty to do so, Mr. Harrison boarded the ambulance which was proceeding to the scene. On arrival, he immediately plunged into the wreckage and despite the scorching heat and exploding machine gun bullets, commenced to drag a member of the crew from the burning debris. He then supervised the work and led the fire picket, himself extricating a second member of the crew and assisting to remove a third. Further efforts were unavailing, however, as the remaining members of the crew were completely buried under the wreckage. Throughout he displayed the utmost courage and an entire disregard for his own safety.

(London Gazette 11 March 1941)

Flight Lieutenant Donald Cecil Smythe (37331). Reserve of Air Force Officers.

Pilot Officer Gerard Ryder (44266). Royal Air Force.

One night in December, 1940, Flight Lieutenant Smythe, Pilot Officer Ryder and a sergeant comprised the crew of an aircraft which crashed and caught fire shortly after taking off. Flight Lieutenant Smythe and Pilot Officer Ryder managed to extricate themselves from the wreckage but the sergeant was trapped in his cockpit. In spite of the fire and exploding incendiaries, and knowing that there were bombs which had not exploded, the two officers immediately re-entered the crashed aircraft and succeeded in extricating the trapped airman. Both these officers displayed great courage and a complete disregard for their personal safety.

(London Gazette 11 March 1941)

Flying Officer Kenneth Leopold George Nobbs (79138). Royal Air Force Volunteer  Reserve.

One night in November, 1940, an aircraft caught fire in the air and crashed in the vicinity of an aerodrome. Flying Officer Nobbs hastened to the scene of the accident and, although the aircraft was burning fiercely and machine gun bullets were flying in all directions, he at once entered the wreckage. He succeeded in pulling out the trapped air gunner, and after carrying him to a safe distance extinguished his burning clothing just before the petrol tanks exploded. Although the air gunner subsequently died of his injuries, Flying Officer Nobbs displayed the utmost courage and an entire disregard of danger in his efforts to save the air gunner's life.

(London Gazette 11 March 1941)

529107 Leading Aircraftman David Nelson. Royal Air Force.

In October, 1940, an aircraft crashed and burst into flames. The air gunner was thrown clear and Leading Aircraftman Nelson shielded the air gunner's body with his own from flying debris. Then, regardless of personal danger, he crawled underneath the burning wreckage and dragged out the observer, who was seriously injured, and put out his burning clothing. Undaunted by the explosion of the petrol tanks, verey lights, and bullets, which were exploding in all directions, he displayed conspicuous bravery in making repeated attempts to extricate the pilot, but failed owing to the intense heat and bursting ammunition.

(London Gazette 11 March 1941)

1057438 Aircraftman 2nd Class William Joseph Whyte. Royal Air Force.

In October, 1940, an aircraft crashed and burst into flames. Aircraftman Whyte immediately ran to the scene, in an adjoining field, and found that both the main planes and the fuselage were on fire and that ammunition was exploding. Noticing that one of the pilots appeared to move, this airman, with complete disregard for his own safety, crawled on hands and knees into the damaged cockpit and dragged him clear. Bottles of oxygen were exploding and Aircraftman Whyte received a blow on the head, temporarily lost his sight and collapsed. Unfortunately the rescued pilot was found to be dead, otherwise this airman's gallant action would undoubtedly have saved his life.

(London Gazette 11 March 1941)

Acting Flight Lieutenant John Wyness Sim (73397), Royal Air Force Volunteer Reserve.

This officer has shown keen devotion to duty and has courageously dealt with unexploded bombs. As he lacked special training and experience in dealing with bombs, he displayed outstanding courage and initiative.

(London Gazette 11 March 1941)

358920 Acting Sergeant Sidney Boys, Royal Air Force.

This airman is in charge of the station fire tender. During a night in September, 1940, he was ordered to proceed to an aircraft which had crashed in flames. Although the aircraft was known to be loaded with bombs, and enemy aircraft were overhead, this airman drove his fire tender up to the crash and manned the hose himself and succeeded in extinguishing the fire. The crew had descended by parachute. In October, 1940, he again proceeded to the scene of a crash, and although he did not know if the aircraft was loaded with bombs, he manned the hose himself and succeeded in extricating one member of the crew alive; the other two were killed. In November, 1940, he drove his fire tender through thick fog to the scene of another crash, and knowing that there were bombs in the wreckage (one having already exploded), he once more manned the hose himself and put out the fire. By his prompt and courageous action on this occasion he saved the lives of two of the crew. He has displayed a complete disregard for his personal safety and by his courageous actions has saved the lives of three people and set a magnificent example to the men under his control.

(London Gazette 8 April 1941)

Flying Officer Digby Vawdre Cartmel Cotes-Preedy (41987), Royal Air Force.

This officer was the pilot of an aircraft which crashed shortly after taking off, just before dawn one day in January, 1941. The aircraft burst into flames on impact, and the observer was thrown out. Flying Officer Cotes-Preedy forced his way out and found the observer lying in burning petrol. He dragged the observer clear, rolled him in the grass to extinguish his burning clothing, and then returned to the aircraft to search for the air gunner. Finding the gunner's escape hatch jammed, Flying Officer Cotes-Preedy ripped the side of the fuselage and succeeded in dragging the air gunner out by his head. Although injured and suffering from burns, Flying Officer Cotes-Preedy displayed great gallantry and initiative. He undoubtedly saved the life of the air gunner, and was of great assistance to the observer.

(London Gazette 5 May 1941)

Flying Officer Richard Garwood Robinson (83668), Royal Air Force Volunteer Reserve.

1165459 Corporal John Taylor, Royal Air Force.

One day in February, 1941, an aircraft crashed just beyond the boundary of an   aerodrome. Flying Officer Robinson, medical officer at the station, was at the scene of the accident almost immediately and was first seen crawling through heavy smoke and fumes but, when he had nearly reached the wreckage, he was forced back owing to an explosion of one of the main petrol tanks. Undeterred, however, he returned to the seat of the fire, which was around the pilot's cockpit, where he was joined by Corporal Taylor who had been playing football and had run to the crash clad only in his football attire. Together they attempted to extricate the only remaining member of the aircraft. To assist them in their efforts, a foam apparatus was turned directly on them. Although petrol and oil tanks, ammunition and verey lights were exploding Flying Officer Robinson and Corporal Taylor persisted in their efforts and finally extricated the body. Both displayed great courage and a complete disregard for their own safety and although both suffered from the effects of the foam sprayed on them, it undoubtedly saved them from being gravely burned. On a previous occasion, Flying Officer Robinson displayed the greatest courage in attempting to rescue the members of a burning aircraft, in spite of exploding bombs and ammunition.

(London Gazette 5 May 1941)

1252290 Leading Aircraftman George Arthur Hutchinson, Royal Air Force.

During a fire in a top storey room at a Royal Air Force Station one day in February, 1941, Leading Aircraftman Hutchinson succeeded in getting on to the roof and then climbed along the side of the wall, getting down on to a stack-pipe, from which he assisted a number of occupants to safety. Thinking the room was clear, he had started to get down himself when another airman appeared at the window, badly burned and with his clothing on fire. This airman got on to the window ledge and locked his arms round the window frame but, owing to his dazed condition, he could not, or would not, let go. Leading Aircraftman Hutchinson, realising the airman's position, and showing complete disregard for his own safety, climbed back on to the window ledge and tried to beat out the flames on the airman's tunic but he was unsuccessful in doing this. He managed to get the airman away, however, by forcing him to release his grip on the window-frame; by this time the room was a mass of flames. Leading Aircraftman Hutchinson faced great danger from burning and from the collapse of the building, and exhibited bravery of a high order in returning for the final rescue. Unfortunately, the airman whom he rescued has since died.

(London Gazette 5 May 1941)

Pilot Officer Peter Talcott Curry (84314), Royal Air Force Volunteer Reserve.

901077 Leading Aircraftman Harry Robert Garner, Royal Air Force.

This officer and airman displayed courageous conduct when an aircraft, with a full load of bombs, crashed and burst into flames one night in May, 1941. They succeeded in extricating two of the crew who were trapped in the aircraft, while the bombs were actually exploding.

(London Gazette 11 July 1941)

Pilot Officer John Cyril Brice (60529), Royal Air Force Volunteer Reserve.

One night in April, 1941, this officer was the pilot of an aircraft which crashed on landing and burst into flames. When the aircraft came to rest it was burning fiercely. Pilot Officer Brice removed his flying helmet, harness and parachute and attempted to open the top hatch. This was jammed however, so he went forward to get the hatchet. By this time the whole perspex nose of the aircraft was on fire and the heat intense. Failing to find the hatchet, Pilot Officer Brice returned and made further efforts with the sliding roof which he managed to get open, severely burning his left hand in the attempt. After getting clear he noticed that the rear hatch was still closed and, in spite of his burns and the fact that the wind was blowing the flames over this hatch, he returned to the aircraft and tried, with his undamaged hand, to open the hatch and release the gunner. Unable to do so, Pilot Officer Brice climbed on top of the fuselage and, holding the catch with his right hand, he jumped on to the hatch and succeeded in bursting it open. Although he had received further burns to his hand and face he remained there until the gunner was clear of the aircraft. This officer displayed great coolness and bravery throughout.

(London Gazette 5 August 1941)

1063679 Leading Aircraftman Thomas John Clarke, Royal Air Force.

In May, 1941, this airman was undergoing night flying instruction in an aircraft which was attacked by an enemy aircraft as it was approaching to land. Leading Aircraftman Clarke received a bullet wound which caused a compound fracture of the right humerus rending the arm useless, while his instructor was hit in the stomach which paralysed both legs. The aircraft was crash landed but burst into flames on impact. With great determination Leading Aircraftman Clarke succeeded in opening the emergency roof exit and, in spite of his wound, managed to extricate his instructor, who was helpless, and remove him to a safe distance. Although greatly handicapped throughout, this airman displayed great determination, gallantry and presence of mind and undoubtedly saved his instructor from being burned alive. Unfortunately the instructor has since died of his wounds.

(London Gazette 5 August 1941)

1014345 Aircraftman 1st Class Albert Jones, Royal Air Force

One morning in May, 1941, this airman drove his tender out on to the aerodrome to pick up the crew, of an aircraft returning from operations. Whilst waiting in his tender a loud explosion occurred and the aircraft, which was only 10 yards away, burst into flames. Aircraftman Jones immediately drove his vehicle about 50 yards away to avoid its destruction and then ran back to the burning aircraft. With complete indifference to danger he dragged a badly wounded airman from the aircraft to a place of safety. Whilst so doing three more bombs exploded and he was wounded in the arm by a flying splinter but, undaunted, he continued his efforts, although he did not know how many more bombs might still be in the aircraft.

(London Gazette 5 August 1941)

Group Captain John Astley Gray, D.F.C.

Acting Squadron Leader Joseph Aidan MacCarthy, M.B., Ch.B., B.A.O. (23425).

One night in May, 1941, the pilot of an aircraft attempted to land with the undercarriage retracted. The aircraft crashed into the main bomb dump and then burst into flames. Group Captain Gray and Squadron Leader MacCarthy immediately went to the scene of the accident. Although there was some delay in getting the fire tender to the spot, owing to wire entanglements at the bomb dump, Group Captain Gray and Squadron Leader MacCarthy entered the burning aircraft and between them succeeded in extricating two members of the crew who were trapped. By the time the first man had been extricated the fire had spread from the starboard tanks to the cabin and on to the port tanks. Ammunition, incendiaries and flares were burning in the wreckage, whilst numerous explosions erupted from the tanks. In spite of this, an attempt was made to rescue the pilot who was still trapped at the bottom of the fuselage. He was dragged clear but his harness still held him to the burning aircraft. Before he could be released another petrol tank burst and flames spread to such an extent that any further attempts to rescue him became impossible. Group Captain Gray and Squadron Leader MacCarthy were assisted by two other officers who both displayed great courage in their efforts. Group Captain Gray received severe burns on the head and his uniform was destroyed but he continued his efforts until overcome by the fumes. Squadron Leader MacCarthy suffered minor facial injuries caused by burns but, despite this and the strain to which he had been exposed, he would not retire to his quarters until he was satisfied that everything possible had been done for the comfort of the injured. Both Group Captain Gray and Squadron Leader MacCarthy displayed great bravery in the most appalling circumstances.

(London Gazette 9 September 1941)

Acting Flight Lieutenant Harold Charles Morris (44773).

910986 Leading Aircraftman John Lewis Goldsmith.

One night in February, 1941, an aircraft, with instructor and pupil as occupants, crashed on an aerodrome and immediately caught fire. Flight Lieutenant Morris, who was in an aircraft about to take off, taxied to the scene, whilst Leading Aircraftman Goldsmith, the aerodrome ambulance driver, immediately took his vehicle to within 50 yards of the crash. The fire tender was already there and foam was being sprayed at the base of the fire to subdue- the flames sufficiently for the rescuers to approach the occupants who were still in the cockpit. The instructor was able to release himself but the pupil was pinned by his legs. Foam was sprayed on him and Flight Lieutenant Morris attempted to extricate him but without success. Leading Aircraftman Goldsmith succeeded in getting his head and arms into the cockpit and cutting away the pupil's harness straps but his legs, remained trapped and, by this time were being burned. The supply of foam suddenly ceased, whereupon Flight Lieutenant Morris and Leading Aircraftman Goldsmith, incurring the grave risk of the petrol tanks exploding, managed with some assistance, to lift the fuselage and to extricate the pupil. Throughout this incident Flight Lieutenant Morris and Leading Aircraftman Goldsmith displayed conspicuous gallantry and disregard of personal safety. Unfortunately the pupil succumbed to his injuries.

(London Gazette 9 September 1941)

Pilot Officer Alexander John Nicholson (86708), Royal Air Force Volunteer Reserve.

In August, 1941, this officer was a passenger in an aircraft which was involved in a collision when taking off and crashed. The aircraft immediately caught fire but Pilot Officer Nicholson managed to get clear. He remembered that when the plane crashed someone in the wireless compartment had been thrown across him. Ammunition and pyrotechnics were exploding and the whole front of the aircraft was in flames but Pilot Officer Nicholson, with complete disregard for his own safety, re-entered and, making his way forward, found the wireless operator, whom he managed to drag to the door, when an explosion occurred which blew Pilot Officer Nicholson a distance of 20 yards. The wireless operator was finally extricated by others but without doubt, his life was saved by Pilot Officer Nicholson's gallantry in the first instance.

(London Gazette 31 October 1941)

This page was last updated on 16/05/23

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