Air of Authority - A History of RAF Organisation

 

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George Cross Holders


Photograph of the George Cross Listed below are details of RFC/RNAS/RAF personnel who were awarded the George Cross, either whilst serving in these units or having been awarded the honour prior to service in the Air Services.  It also includes those personnel who were awarded an honour which was subsequently replaced by the George Cross (Albert Medal and Empire Gallantry Medal)

For a full list of those who have been awarded this honour see www.gc-database.co.uk

Photo - courtesy Terry Hissey©

Ranks shown are those held at the time of the award

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Fg. Off. Walter ANDERSON

Born: 27 Jul 1890        Died: 11 May 1959        

Age when awarded: 38

"The KING has been graciously pleased to approve of the award of the Medal of the Military Division of the Most Excellent Order of the British Empire to the undermentioned :—

For Gallantry.

"Flying Officer Walter Anderson, Royal Air Force.

346415 Corporal Thomas Patrick McTeague, D.C.M., Royal Air Force.

Pilot Officer H. A. Constantine while flying an aeroplane off Leysdown on the 10th December, 1928, crashed into the sea, about 200 yards from the shore. Corporal McTeague and Flying Officer Anderson immediately entered the sea from the shore and swam to his assistance. The weather was bitterly cold, an on-shore wind was blowing and the sea was fairly rough. Constantine, fully clothed and suffering from injuries and shock, commenced to swim ashore, but was in a state of collapse when the first swimmer (McTeague) reached him. McTeague, though exhausted himself, supported him until the arrival of Anderson, and Constantine was then brought to safety (this involving swimming for a distance of about 100 yards) by their combined efforts.

The extremely prompt and timely action of Anderson and McTeague, .and the gallantry and persistence they displayed, undoubtedly saved the life of Constantine."

(London Gazette - 12 April 1929)

Constantine, went on to retire from the RAF as ACM Sir Hugh Constantine KBE, CB, DSO.

 

LAC Walter ARNOLD

Born: 30 Aug 1906        Died: 12 Mar 1988        

Age when awarded: 22

"The KING has been graciously pleased to approve of the Award of the Medal of the Military Division of the Most Excellent Order of the British Empire to the undermentioned : —

For Gallantry.

No. 363339 Leading Aircraftman Walter Arnold, Royal Air Force, for conspicuous gallantry displayed at Digby Aerodrome on the 20th June, 1928.

This airman was a passenger in a machine which was wrecked upon landing and immediately caught fire. Arnold extricated himself from the burning wreckage and, although fully aware of the grave risk he was taking, re-entered the flames and succeeded in dragging the pilot, who was unconscious and very severely injured, to a position of safety. 

Arnold sustained burns to his face, neck and hands, and his prompt and courageous action undoubtedly saved the pilot's life, since the burning petrol spread rapidly and rendered any subsequent approach to the wreckage impossible."

(London Gazette- 9 November 1928)

 

Sgt Arthur BANKS (RAFVR)

Born: 06 Oct 1923        Died: 20 Dec 1944        

Age when awarded: 21

"The KING has been graciously pleased to approve the posthumous award of the GEORGE CROSS to: —

1607992 Sergeant Arthur BANKS, Royal Air Force Volunteer Reserve, No. 112 Squadron, Desert Air Force.

On 29th August, 1944, this airman took part in an armed reconnaissance of the Ravenna and Ferrara areas. During the sortie, his. aircraft was damaged by anti-aircraft- fire and he was compelled to make a forced landing. After the aircraft had ' been destroyed, Sergeant Banks decided to try to reach the Allied lines. He made contact with a group of Italian partizans, amongst whom, during .the following months, he 'became an outstanding figure, advising and encouraging them in action against the enemy. Early in December, 1944, an attempt at crossing into allied territory by boat was planned. Sergeant Banks and a number of partizans assembled at the allotted place, but the whole party was surrounded and captured. Sergeant Banks was handed over to the German commander of the district, who presided at his interrogation. During the questioning, Sergeant Banks was cruelly tortured. At one stage, he succeeded in getting hold of a light machine gun, with which he might have killed most of his captors, had not one of the partizans, fearing more severe torture, intervened and pinned his arms to his sides. Sergeant- Banks was badly knocked about before he was taken to another prison. On 8th December, 1944, Sergeant Banks was taken, with a number of partizans, to a prison at Adria. He remained there until 19th December, 1944, when he was handed over to the commander of a detachment of the '' Black Brigade ''. He was then transferred to another prison at Ariano Polesine.

Here, in the presence of Italian Fascists, he was stripped of his clothing and again tortured.  Sergeant Banks was eventually bound and "thrown into the River Po. Despite his wounds, even at this stage, he succeeded in reaching the river bank. The Fascists then took him back to the prison, where he was shot through the head. At the time of his capture, Sergeant Banks was endeavouring to return to the Allied lines, so that he might arrange for further supplies to the partizans. He endured much suffering with stoicism, withholding information which would have been of vital interest to the enemy.  His courage and endurance were such that they impressed even his captors. Sergeant Banks' conduct was, at all times, in keeping with the highest traditions of the Service, even in the face of most brutal and inhuman treatment."

(London Gazette - 5 November 1946)

 

Sgt John Archibald BECKETT

Born:   14 Mar 1906      Died: 12 Apr 1947       

Age when awarded: 41

"The KING has been graciously pleased to approve the posthumous .award 'of the GEORGE CROSS to: -

521319 Sergeant. John Archibald BECKETT, Royal Air Force, Royal Air Force Station, Ein Shemer, Air Headquarters, Levant.

On the night of 2 8th March, 1947, during refuelling operations on a (Lancaster aircraft of No. 38 Squadron, a violent fire broke out suddenly in the pumping compartment of the refuelling vehicle of which Sergeant Beckett was the driver. The flames enveloped Sergeant Beckett and set alight the front of the Lancaster's fuselage. Another airman beat out the flames on Sergeant Beckett but not before the latter had sustained very severe burns on the hands and face. At this moment, there was .grave danger that the main tank of the refuelling vehicle, containing over two thousand gallons of fuel, would explode, in which case it is. practically certain that most, if not all, of the twenty or more aircraft in the park would have been destroyed. In spite of his serious, injuries and the pain he was suffering, Sergeant Beckett got into the driver's seat of the blazing vehicle and drove it a distance of about four hundred yards to a point outside the aircraft park, where it could do no further damage. After this he collapsed and was taken in the ambulance to the Station Sick Quarters dangerously ill. He died on 12th April, 1947. The fires in the Lancaster aircraft and in the vehicle were eventually brought under control, and extinguished with no further damage to persons or property. There is no doubt that by his prompt and gallant action, Sergeant Beckett saved a number of valuable aircraft from almost certain destruction and his comrades, who were working in the vicinity, from risk of serious injury."

(London Gazette - 16 December 1947)

 

Flt. Sgt. Eric WATT-BONAR (RAFR)

Born: 22 Sep 1899        Died: 26 Feb 1991        

Age when awarded: 32

"The KING has been graciously pleased to approve of the Award of the Medal of the Civil Division of the Most Excellent Order of the British Empire to the undermentioned: —

For Gallantry.

Flight-Sergeant Eric Watt Bonar, Royal Air Force Reserve, Chief Pilot of Northern Air Transport Limited.

For an act of conspicuous courage in rescuing the pilot of a burning aeroplane of the Royal Air Force at Barton in May last. Under the protection of an asbestos blanket he unfastened the straps binding the pilot, released him from his parachute harness, and with assistance dragged him from the burning wreckage. He gave first aid to the airman, who was then conveyed to hospital but died about a fortnight later."

(London Gazette - 5 August 1932)

 

Lt Oliver Campbell BRYSON RFC

Born: 18 Aug 1896      Died: 27 Mar 1977       

Age when awarded: 21

"The KING was pleased, at Buckingham Palace, on Wednesday, the 9th instant, to present to Captain Oliver Campbell Bryson, Flight Commander, Royal Flying Corps, the Albert Medal, which was awarded by His Majesty in recognition of his gallantry in endeavouring to save life in March last. The circumstances are as follows: —

On the 15th March, 1917, Captain (then Lieutenant, Bryson, with Second Lieutenant Hillebrandt as passenger, was piloting an aeroplane at Wye Aerodrome when, owing to a sideslip, the machine crashed to the ground and burst into flames. On disentangling himself from the burning wreckage Captain Bryson at once went back into the flames, dragged Lieutenant Hillebrandt from the machine, and notwithstanding his own injuries, which were undoubtedly aggravated by his gallant efforts to rescue his brother officer from the fire, endeavoured to extinguish the fire on Lieutenant Hillebrandt's clothing.  Lieutenant Hillebrandt succumbed to his injuries a few; days later."

London Gazette - 11 January 1918)

 

LAC Michael Patrick CAMPION RAF

Born: 8 May 1916       Died: 4 Dec 1943       

Age when awarded: 24

"The KING has been graciously pleased to approve of the following Awards:—

The Medal of the Military Division of the Most Excellent Order of the British Empire, for

Gallantry: 

536451 Leading Aircraftman Michael Campion, Royal Air Force.

612282 Aircraftman 1st Class Ernest Ralph Clyde Frost, Royal Air Force.

These two airmen displayed great courage in effecting the rescue of an unconscious pilot from a burning aircraft which resulted from a collision in which two Blenheim aircraft were involved while taking off. Aircraftmen Campion and Frost were among the first to arrive on the scene. Not knowing that the pilot was the sole occupant, Aircraftman Frost promptly entered the rear cockpit, which was full of smoke and fumes, in search of the wireless operator. Satisfying himself that no one was there, he climbed out and, nearly exhausted, ran to the front cockpit where Leading Aircraftman Campion was trying to rescue the pilot.

Working heroically both men, with great risk to themselves, due to the imminent danger of the petrol tanks exploding, extricated the pilot from the burning wreckage.  Shortly afterwards the tanks exploded and the whole aircraft was rapidly burned out. Unfortunately the pilot died later."

(London Gazette - 5 July 1940)

The aircraft involved was from No 90 Squadron and the incident occurred at RAF Upwood.

 

Flt Sgt Horace James CANNON RFC

Born: 26 Jul 1895        Died: 21 Sep 1975        

Age when awarded: 22

"The KING has been pleased to award the Albert Medal in each of the following cases In recognition of gallantry displayed in saving or endeavouring to save life: -

Flight-Sergeant Albert Edgar Warne, 24th Wing Aeroplane Repair Section, ,and Flight Sergeant Horace Cannon, No. 50 Training Squadron.

On the 26th January last, while flying in England, a pilot when attempting to land lost control of his machine, which crashed to the ground from a height of about 150 feet, and burst into flames. Flight Sergeants Warne and Cannon went to the rescue of the pilot at great personal risk, as one tank of petrol blew up and another was on fire; moreover, the machine (was equipped with a belt of live cartridges, which they dragged out of the flames. 

They managed to extricate the pilot, who was strapped to the 'burning plane, but he died shortly afterwards from his injuries and burns."

(London Gazette - 26 April 1918)

 

Act Flt Lt Wilson Hodgson CHARLTON

Born: 9 Apr 1907        Died: 12 May 1953

Age when awarded: 33

"The KING has been graciously pleased to approve the award of the GEORGE CROSS to the undermentioned: -

Acting Flight Lieutenant Wilson Hodgson CHARLTON (44837).

Flight Lieutenant Charlton is responsible for all work in connection with enemy bombs in an area comprising the greater part of two counties. Both by day and night, during recent months, he has dealt with some 200 unexploded bombs. He has successfully undertaken many dangerous missions with undaunted and unfailing courage."

(London Gazette - 21 January 1941)

 

Plt Off Gerald Charles Neil CLOSE RAF

Born: 2 Feb 1914        Died: 9 May 1941        

Age when awarded: 23

"The KING has been graciously pleased to approve of the Award of the Medal of the Military Division of the Most Excellent Order of the British Empire to the undermentioned for valuable services rendered in connection with the operations in Waziristan during the period 17th January to 15th September, 1937:—

For Gallantry

Pilot Officer Gerald Charles Neil Close, Royal Air Force.

When an aircraft, laden with bombs, crashed and burst into flames on the Miranshah aerodrome, this officer, who was duty pilot on the aerodrome, hastened to the scene of the accident and, in spite of the explosion of a bomb and small arms ammunition, made persistent attempts to extinguish the flames and to rescue the crew until ordered to withdraw by a superior officer."

(London Gazette - 21 December 1937)

 

Sqn Ldr Charles Curtis DARLEY RAF    

Born: 31 Jul 1890           Died: 10 Jun 1962  

Age when awarded: 31

"The KING has been pleased to award the Albert Medal to Squadron Leader Charles Curtis Darley, of the Royal Air Force, in recognition of his gallantry in endeavouring to save life. 

On the night of the 27th September, 1919,  a Vickers Vimy Aeroplane, piloted by Captain Cecil Hill Darley, brother of Squadron Leader (then Flight Lieutenant) Darley, who was acting as Navigation Officer, made a forced landing by Lake Bracciano, some twenty miles north of Home, when on a night from England to Egypt.  On the following morning, in taking off, the aeroplane failed to clear a telegraph pole, and crashed, immediately bursting into flames. Squadron Leader Darley was thrown clear, but at once rushed to the blazing wreckage and displayed very conspicuous bravery and devotion in persistent, but unavailing, attempts to rescue his brother, who was pinned in the pilot's seat. His efforts to release his brother were only brought to an end by his collapse.  He sustained such severe burns that he was a patient in hospital for over eighteen months."

(London Gazette - 24 July 1922)

Biographical details

Darley remained in the RAF and eventually retired as Air Commodore C C Darley

 

Flt Lt Eward Peyerall Meggs DAVIS RNAS

"The KING has been graciously pleased to confer the Albert Medal on: —

Flight Lieutenant Edward Peverall Meggs Davis, R.N.A.S. 

The following is the account of the services in respect of which the decoration has been conferred: —

On the 3rd October, 1917, whilst carrying out a practice flight, a seaplane, piloted by Flight Sub-Lieutenant James Douglas Grant, fell into the sea. The seaplane turned over and the pilot was enclosed in the boat under water. 

Flight Lieutenant Edward Peverall Meggs Davis immediately flew a seaplane to the position of the accident, made fast to the wreck, and dived under the wreck in his uniform and endeavoured to extricate Flight Sub-Lieutenant Grant.

To do this it was necessary for him to dive amongst and struggle through the mass of wires and broken parts of the wreck. Notwithstanding the imminent danger of being caught up amongst them, Lieutenant Davis continued his efforts to get Flight Sub-Lieutenant Grant out, until the emergency boat arrived on the scene.

No other help was at hand until the arrival of this motor boat, which at the time of the accident was about a mile and a-half away.  Flight Lieutenant Davis risked his life in endeavouring to save that of his brother officer, as there was every chance of his becoming caught under water in the wires of the wreck."

(London Gazette - 18 Dec 1917)

Davis transferred to the RAF in April 1918 and eventually retired as a Group Captain.

 

Sqn Ldr Hubert DINWOODIE OBE,  MC, RAFVR

Born: 24 Mar 1896        Died: 28 Aug 1968        

Age when awarded: 50

"The KING has been graciously pleased to approve the following awards of the GEORGE CROSS, George Medal and British Empire Medal (MilitaryDivision) to the undermentioned: -

Awarded the GEORGE CROSS: —

Squadron Leader Hubert DINWOODIE, O.B.E., M.C. (72819), Royal Air Force Volunteer Reserve, No. 5140 (Bomib Disposal) Squadron.

Awarded the George Medal.

1805558 Corporal Roland Norman GAKRED, B.E.M.,  Royal Air Force Volunteer Reserve, No. 5140 (Bomb Disposal) Squadron.

Awarded the British Empire Medal (Military Division).

1652249 Leading Aircraftman John William HATTOW, Royal Air Force Volunteer Reserve, No. 5140 (Bomb Disposal) Squadron.

On the 20th August, 1946, German high explosive aircraft 'bombs were being loaded into vessels at Lubeck for disposal at sea, and two train loads of 'bombs, weighing approximately 1,100 tons, were drawn into the quay side. Loading into barges was in progress, when a 50 kilogram bomb, fitted with a " tel " fuse, was accidentally dropped a distance of about four feet toy the German loading party. The bomb, which was one of a batch of twelve similar bombs being handled at the time, exploded, killing 6 persons and injuring twelve. There was grave danger that one or more of the eleven bombs immediately involved would also detonate and that bombs of a similar construction would function and thus blow up the trains. As a result grave apprehension was felt for the safety of the port. There was nothing to guide a bomb disposal party as to the cause of the detonation of what should have been a harmless bomb. Squadron Leader Dinwoodie was sent at once to Lubeck, to report on the situation and, if possible, to clear the dangerous missiles. He found, on starting his hazardous work, that the eleven bombs were of an  experimental type, fitted with a special shock-sensitive, electrically-operated fuse. Corporal Garred was detailed to assist Squadron Leader Dinwoodie to deal with these bombs and to take action (to safeguard the munitions 'trains. Despite the very considerable risk involved, Squadron Leader Dinwoodie and Corporal Garred proceeded to defuse one of the bombs in an attempt to discover the cause of the explosion. They found that the accident was due to defective German workmanship or design and that, in several of the bombs, the fusing device had already moved, rendering the bombs dangerous. All the work on the shock-sensitive, electrically-operated fuses, already damaged' in the previous explosion, took place in an atmosphere of tension caused by lack of knowledge about the cause of the accident and uncertainty as to whether the action of defusing the bombs would not, in itself, cause a detonation. Also, in view of the length of time these 'bombs had been in storage, the state of the main filling was not above suspicion and sensitive exudation products might have formed around the main tube. Had this been the case, the removal of the tube could, by itself, have caused detonation. With extreme care. Squadron Leader Dinwoodie, assisted by Corporal Garred, rendered the eleven bombs safe.  

From the information obtained by 'them, it was possible to minimise the danger and clear the trains. The docks at Lubeck are situated in the centre of the town, therefore the explosion of the contents of the trains would inevitably have wrecked the whole area and caused many casualties. Throughout the operation, Squadron Leader Dinwoodie displayed cold blooded heroism and initiative in extremely critical circumstances. He was ably assisted by Corporal Garred who showed courage and devotion to duty of a very high order. Although both were aware that they were in great personal danger, they completed a task which probably averted a serious disaster to the port of Lubeck. Leading Aircraftman Hatton was detailed to assist Squadron Leader Dinwoodie as motor transport driver during this operation. From the night of 2Oth August, 1946, until the clearance of the bombs was effected, he performed his duties efficiently and carefully with the full knowledge that he was working toy the side . of munitions trains in a hazardous condition and adjacent to eleven bombs which were shock-sensitive. 

When it (became necessary to move a damaged railwagon, still loaded with the remainder of the bombs, Leading (Aircraftman Hatton towed it very carefully along the dock side, until it was manoeuvred in to the desired position. During the whole of the operation, he was a member of the Bomb Disposal Party, operating within the danger area. Whenever assistance was required to move the bombs, he was always at hand. In the final operation, Leading Aircraftman Hatton, alone, assisted his Bomb Disposal Officer (Squadron Leader Dinwoodie) to transport the bombs to the demolition site and, although a Driver M.T., did his share of the work involved in blowing them up. During the four days required to complete the work, he and his vehicle were always in complete readiness, the latter loaded with the appropriate stores and in perfect mechanical condition. As the successful clearance of these highly dangerous munitions depended upon very exact movements and perfectly timed teamwork, this airman by his efficiency, courage and devotion to duty, contributed greatly to the success of the operation. During the past year, Squadron Leader Dinwoodie and Corporal Garred have frequently shown outstanding gallantry in handling and defusing dangerous bombs. Squadron Leader Dinwoodie has been responsible for clearing and organising the demolition of very large dumps of German bombs, many of which were in a very unsafe condition."

(London Gazette - 4 February 1947)

 

LAC Robert Ewing DOUGLAS RAF

Born: 7 Apr 1906        Died: 10 Aug 1959        

Age when awarded: 24

"The KING has been graciously pleased to approve of the Award of the Medal of the Military Division of the Most Excellent Order of the British Empire to the undermentioned:—

For Gallantry.

362370 Leading Aircraftman Robert Ewing Douglas, Royal Air Force.

For conspicuous gallantry displayed in an attempt to save the lives of two fellow airmen at Kohat, India, on the 13th June, 1930.  

An aeroplane proceeding on patrol with a crew of two and a load of live bombs stalled shortly after leaving the ground and crashed on the edge of the aerodrome, immediately bursting into flames.

Leading Aircraftman Douglas, who witnessed the crash, was the first to arrive on the scene of the accident and found the air gunner lying two yards from the wreckage, his clothes burning badly. These flames Douglas quenched with a hand extinguisher, and, after disentangling part of the gun equipment from the injured man's person, dragged him clear of the machine with the assistance of another airman who had arrived on the scene, and, after subduing a renewed burst of flames in his clothing, got him on board the ambulance. 

He then turned his attention to the pilot in the burning machine and had approached to within twelve yards of the wreckage when the first of the bombs exploded. Realising then that there was no hope of the pilot being still alive, he started to get clear and was some thirty yards away when a second bomb exploded.

In advancing so close to the flames this airman took a grave risk as he was fully aware that the aircraft contained live bombs of a powerful type."

(London Gazette - 27 March 1931)

 

Sqn Ldr John Noel DOWLAND  

Born: 6 Nov 1914        Died: 13 Jan 1942       

Age when awarded: 26

"The KING has been graciously pleased to approve the award of the GEORGE CROSS to-

Squadron Leader John Noel Dowland (33239), Royal Air Force.

In February, 1940, Squadron Leader Dowland succeeded in removing an enemy bomb from a steamship. The bomb was extremely difficult to inspect and handle as it was wedged with its nose penetrating through the main deck. In June, 1940, this officer performed a similar duty with the same efficiency and promptitude on board a trawler. He has displayed  conspicuous courage and devotion to duty in circumstances of exceptional danger and difficulty."

(London Gazette - 7 January 1941)

 

AC1 Ernest Ralph Clyde FROST CD, RAF

Born: 22 Jul 1917        Died: 28 Jul 1969       

Age when awarded: 22

"The KING has been graciously pleased to approve of the following Awards:—

The Medal of the Military Division of the Most Excellent Order of the British Empire, for Gallantry: -

536451 Leading Aircraftman Michael Campion, Royal Air Force.

612282 Aircraftman 1st Class Ernest Ralph Clyde Frost, Royal Air Force.

These two airmen displayed great courage in effecting the rescue of an unconscious pilot from a burning aircraft which resulted from a collision in which two Blenheim aircraft were involved while taking off. Aircraftmen Campion and Frost were among the first to arrive on the scene. Not knowing that the pilot was the sole occupant, Aircraftman Frost promptly entered the rear cockpit, which was full of smoke and fumes, in search of the wireless operator. Satisfying himself that no one was there, he climbed out and, nearly exhausted, ran to the front cockpit where Leading Aircraftman Campion was trying to rescue the pilot.

Working heroically both men, with great risk to themselves, due to the imminent danger of the petrol tanks exploding, extricated the pilot from the burning wreckage.  Shortly afterwards the tanks exploded and the whole aircraft was rapidly burned out. Unfortunately the pilot died later."

(London Gazette - 5 July 1940)

The aircraft involved was from No 90 Squadron and the incident occurred at RAF Upwood.

 

AC1 Ivor John GILLETT RAF  

Born: 16 Sep 1928        Died: 26 Mar 1950        

Age when awarded: 21

"The KING has been graciously pleased to approve the posthumous award of the GEORGE CROSS to: -

3500148 Aircraftman 1st Class Ivor John GILLETT, Royal Air Force, Far East Flying Boat Wing, Seletar.

Aircraftman Gillett, a Fitter Armourer, was a member of the ground crew on board a Sunderland Flying Boat which blew up at its moorings at R.A.F. Flying Boat Base, Seletar, on 26th March, 1950. Rescue surface craft were quickly on the scene but the aircraft and a bomb-scow alongside sank rapidly and survivors from the explosion were hurled into the water. A life-belt was thrown to Aircraftman Gillett from a rescue launch. He was seen, however, to throw the life-belt to a seriously injured corporal who was in danger of drowning near him. In the confusion the rescuers had not been able to reach the corporal. Gillett was a great friend of his and knew he was not a strong swimmer. The life-belt kept the corporal afloat until he was rescued unconscious from the water several minutes later. In the meantime Aircraftman Gillett disappeared; his body was washed ashore two days later. It was discovered that his body had suffered superficial injuries and that death was due to the combined effects of blast and drowning. By his action in deliberately saving the life of his injured friend, whilst injured and in great danger himself,   Aircraftman Gillett displayed magnificent courage. His extreme unselfishness in his last living moments, which resulted in the sacrifice of his life to save another, was seen in this act of great heroism which was in accordance with the highest traditions of the Royal Air Force."

(London Gazette - 3 October 1950)

 

Fg Off Reginald Cubitt GRAVELEY RAF  

Born: 10 Mar 1914       Died: 16 Sep 1961        

Age when awarded: 25

"The KING has been graciously pleased to approve of the following Awards: -

The Medal of the Military Division of the Most Excellent Order of the British Empire, For Gallantry: -

Flying Officer Reginald Cubitt Graveley (39315), Royal Air Force. 

This officer displayed great gallantry and a total disregard of his own safety when the aircraft of which he was the pilot was shot down by an enemy fighter in September, 1939, and crashed in flames. Though badly burned, he pulled his wounded air observer from the wreckage to a place of safety and then returned to rescue the air gunner. He found the airman dead, however, and was unable to lift him from the cockpit."

(London Gazette - 14 November 1939)

Fg Off Graveley was a member of No 88 Squadron at the time.

 

Flt Lt Hector Bertram GRAY AFM, RAF

Born: 6 Jun 1911        Died: 18 Dec 1943        

Age when awarded: 32

Awarded the George Cross posthumously for showing fortitude as PoW in Hong Kong from 1941 to 1943.

"The KING has been graciously pleased to approve a posthumous award of the GEORGE CROSS in recognition of most conspicuous gallantry in carrying out hazardous work in a very brave manner, to: 

Flight Lieutenant Hector Bertram GRAY, A.F.M. (44061), Royal Air Force."

(London Gazette - 19 April 1946)

 

AM1 Harrie Stephen HARWOOD RFC

Born: 10 Jul 1884        Died: 13 Nov 1975       

Age when awarded: 31

Albert Medal of the Second Class.

Corporal Henry Hearne, Royal Flying Corps.

1st Class Air Mechanic Harrie Stephen Harwood, Royal Flying Corps.

2nd Class Air Mechanic Alfred Edward Simms, Royal Flying Corps.

On the 3rd January,1916,at about 3 p.m., a fire broke out inside, a large bomb store belonging to the Royal Flying Corps, which contained nearly 2,000 high explosive bombs, some of which had very large charges, and a number of incendiary bombs which were burning freely.  Major Newall at once took all necessary precautions, and then, assisted by Air Mechanic Simms, poured water into the shed through a hole made by the flames.  He sent for the key of the store, and with Corporal Hearne, Harwood and Simms  entered the building and succeeded in putting out the flames.  The wooden cases containing the bombs were burnt, and some of them were charred to a cinder."

(London Gazette - 19 May 1916)

 

Cpl Henry HEARNE RFC.

Albert Medal of the Second Class.

Corporal Henry Hearne, Royal Flying Corps.

1st Class Air Mechanic Harrie Stephen Harwood, Royal Flying Corps.

2nd Class Air Mechanic Alfred Edward Simms, Royal Flying Corps.

On the 3rd January,1916,at about 3 p.m., a fire broke out inside, a large bomb store belonging to the Royal Flying Corps, which contained nearly 2,000 high explosive bombs, some of which had very large charges, and a number of incendiary bombs which were burning freely.  Major Newall at once took all necessary precautions, and then, assisted by Air Mechanic Simms, poured water into the shed through a hole made by the flames.  He sent for the key of the store, and with Corporal Hearne, Harwood and Simms  entered the building and succeeded in putting out the flames.  The wooden cases containing the bombs were burnt, and some of them were charred to a cinder."

(London Gazette - 19 May 1916)

 

AC1 Vivian HOLLOWDAY  RAF

Born: 13 Oct 1916        Died: 15 Apr 1977        

Age when awarded: 24

"The KING has been graciously pleased to approve the award of the GEORGE CROSS to the undermentioned: -

935282 Aircraftman First Class Vivian HOLLOWDAY.

One night in July, 1940, when returning to camp, this airman observed an aircraft crash and burst into flames. He immediately proceeded to the wreckage and made his way through the burning debris which was  scattered over a wide area by the force of the impact. He found the pilot whose clothing was on fire, and put out the flames with his bare hands. Had the pilot not been killed instantly in the crash this action would in all probability have saved his life. During August, 1940, this airman was again returning to the camp when an aircraft suddenly spun to the ground and exploded. He immediately went to the crash and a second explosion occurred. Ammunition was exploding  all the time but despite this, he borrowed a gas mask, wrapped two sacks over himself and spent some time in the flames, making four attempts before he succeeded in releasing the first occupant. He then re-entered the burning wreckage and successfully removed the second. All three occupants, However, were already dead. Aircraftman Hollowday displayed amazing courage and initiative on both occasions."

(London Gazette - 21 January 1941)

 

Ass Sec Off Noor INAYAT-KHAN WAAF  (wrongly gazetted as 'Nora')

Born: 1 Jan 1914        Died: 13 Sep 1944       

Age when awarded: 30

"The KING has been graciously pleased to approve the posthumous award of the GEORGE CROSS to:-

Assistant Section Officer Nora INAYAT-KHAN (9901), Women's Auxiliary Air Force.

Assistant Section Officer Nora INAYAT-KHAN was the first woman operator to be infiltrated into enemy occupied France, and was landed by Lysander aircraft on 16th June, 1943. During the weeks immediately following her arrival, the Gestapo made mass arrests in the Paris Resistance groups to which she had been detailed. She refused however to abandon what had become the principal and most dangerous post in France, although given the opportunity to return to England, because she did not wish to leave her French comrades without communications and she hoped also to rebuild her group. She remained at her post therefore and did the excellent work which earned her a posthumous Mention in Despatches.

The Gestapo had a full description of her, but knew only her code name "Madeleine".  They deployed considerable forces in their effort to catch her and so break the last remaining link with London. After 3½ months she was betrayed to the Gestapo and taken to their H.Q. in the Avenue Foch. The Gestapo had found her codes and messages and were now in a position to work back to London.  

They asked her to co-operate, but she refused and gave them no information of any kind. She was imprisoned in one of the cells on the 5th floor of the Gestapo H.Q. and remained there for several weeks during which time she made two  unsuccessful attempts at escape. She was asked to sign a declaration that she would make no further attempts but she refused and the Chief of the Gestapo obtained permission from Berlin to send her to Germany for "safe custody". She was the first agent to be sent to Germany.

Assistant Section Officer INAYAT-KHAN was sent to Karlsruhe in November; 1943, and then to Pforsheim where her cell was apart from the main prison. She was considered to be a particularly dangerous and unco-operative prisoner. The Director of the prison has also been interrogated and has confirmed that Assistant Section Officer INAYAT-KHAN, when  interrogated by the Karlsruhe Gestapo, refused to give any information whatsoever, either as to her work or her colleagues.

She was taken with three others to Dachau Camp on the 12th September, 1944. On arrival, she was taken to the crematorium and shot.  Assistant Section Officer INAYAT-KHAN displayed the most conspicuous courage, both moral and physical over a period of more than 12 months."

(London Gazette - 5 April 1949)

 

Sgt Raymond Mayhew LEWIN RAFVR

Born: 14 Jan 1915        Died: 21 Nov 1941        

Age when awarded: 26

"The KING has been graciously pleased to approve the award of the George Cross to: -

700404 Sergeant Raymond Mayhew Lewin, Royal Air Force.

In November, 1940, Sergeant Lewin was the captain of an aircraft on a night bombing mission. Shortly after the take off the aircraft began to sink and crashed into a hillside where it burst into flames. Sergeant Lewin extricated himself and saw three of his crew of four climbing out of the escape hatch. He ordered them to run clear. He then ran round the blazing wing in which full petrol tanks were burning and crawled under it to rescue his injured second pilot. Despite his own injuries - a cracked kneecap and severe contusions on the face and legs - he dragged and carried the pilot some 40 yards from the aircraft to a hole in the ground, where he lay on him just as the bombs exploded. This superbly gallant deed was performed in the dark under most difficult conditions and in the certain knowledge that the bombs and petrol tanks would explode."

(London Gazette - 11 March 1941)

 

Cpl John MacIntosh McCLYMONT AuxAF

Born: 15 Nov 1903        Died: 10 Jun 1996        

Age when awarded: 37

"The KING has been graciously pleased to approve the following Awards: — 

The Medal of the Military Division of the Most Excellent Order of the British Empire, for Gallantry:—

874574 Corporal John Mclntosh McClymont, Auxiliary Air Force.

On the 18th January, 1940, an aircraft, with two occupants, crashed during a snowstorm and immediately caught fire.  Several individuals ran to the scene and Corporal McClymont, who was one of the party, helped in extricating one of the airmen from the cabin. As the flames were increasing  in intensity and ammunition and Very lights were continually exploding, all ranks were ordered to stand away from the aircraft. Corporal McClymont heard the order but considered it did not prevent a single-handed attempt being made to rescue the second occupant and remained behind for this purpose. An officer returned shortly to help him and, together, they succeeded in extricating -the airman just before the petrol tank exploded. During the second operation, whilst Corporal McClymont was holding back part of the cabin, he received injuries to his hands. He displayed great courage in the face of extreme danger and had the second airman been alive would undoubtedly have saved him from being burnt to death. Both occupants had, however, been killed instantaneously when the aircraft crashed."

(London Gazette - 19 July 1940)

This incident took place at Glasgow.

 

Flt Cdt William Neil McKECHNIE RAF  

Born: 27 Aug 1907        Died: 30 Aug 1944      

Age when awarded: 22

"The KING has been graciously pleased to approve of the Award of the Medal of the Military Division of the Most Excellent Order of the British Empire to the undermentioned : —

For Gallantry.

Flight Cadet William Neil McKechnie, Royal Air Force.

On the 20th June, 1929, an aeroplane piloted by Flight Cadet C. J. Giles crashed on landing at Cranwell Aerodrome and burst into names. The pilot was stunned but managed to release his safety belt and fall out of the machine in a dazed condition. Flight Cadet McKechnie, who had landed in another aeroplane about the same time some two hundred yards away, left his machine and ran at full speed towards the scene of the accident. The petrol had spread over an area of about ten yards diameter in full blaze, with Giles lying in it, semi-conscious. McKechnie, without hesitation, ran into the flames and pulled out Giles, who was badly burned about the legs and face, with his Sidcot suit and clothes actually burning. After dragging him clear of the names, during the process of which he was scorched and superficially burned, McKechnie proceeded to extinguish the flames of Giles' burning clothing. 

By this time, the machine was in full blaze, with the petrol spreading along the ground so that without McKechnie's assistance, there is no doubt Giles would have been burned to death, as he was quite incapable of moving himself. Ultimately the machine was entirely destroyed by fire and the ground for some distance around was completely burned up by the spread of the ignited petrol."

(London Gazette - 18 October 1929)

 

Cpl Thomas Patrick McTEAGUE DCM, RAF

Born: 2 Oct 1893        Died: 12 Apr 1962        

Age when awarded: 35

"The KING has been graciously pleased to approve of the award of the Medal of the Military Division of the Most Excellent Order of the British Empire to the undermentioned :—

For Gallantry.

"Flying Officer Walter Anderson, Royal Air Force.

346415 Corporal Thomas Patrick McTeague, D.C.M., Royal Air Force.

Pilot Officer H. A. Constantine while flying an aeroplane off Leysdown on the 10th December, 1928, crashed into the sea, about 200 yards from the shore. Corporal McTeague and Flying Officer Anderson immediately entered the sea from the shore and swam to his assistance. The weather was bitterly cold, an on-shore wind was blowing and the sea was fairly rough. Constantine, fully clothed and suffering from injuries and shock, commenced to swim ashore, but was in a state of collapse when the first swimmer (McTeague) reached him. McTeague, though exhausted himself, supported him until the arrival of Anderson, and Constantine was then brought to safety (this involving swimming for a distance of about 100 yards) by their combined efforts.

The extremely prompt and timely action of Anderson and McTeague, .and the gallantry and persistence they displayed, undoubtedly saved the life of Constantine."

(London Gazette - 12 April 1929)

 

Constable Francis Austin MORTISHED, 

Act Flt.Cdr. Paul Douglas ROBERTSON CBE

Captain Patrick Gordon TAYLOR OBE, MC    (Later Sir)

Constable Carl WALKER 

Flt. Lt.Victor Albert WATSON

 

Act Sqn Ldr Eric Lawrence MOXEY RAFVR

Born: 14 Apr 1894        Died: 27 Aug 1940        

Age when awarded: 46

"The KING has been graciously pleased to approve of the posthumous award of the GEORGE CROSS to : -

Acting Squadron Leader Eric Lawrence Moxey (73498), Royal Air Force Volunteer Reserve.

On the 27th August, 1940, it was reported that two unexploded bombs were embedded in an aerodrome. Squadron Leader Moxey, a technical intelligence officer employed at the Air Ministry, immediately  volunteered to proceed to the site and remove them, though from the nature of his duties he was very fully aware of the risk entailed in such an operation. One of the bombs exploded causing his death. On many occasions Squadron Leader Moxey has exhibited similar complete disregard for his personal safety."

(London Gazette - 17 December 1940)

 

Maj Cyril Louis Norton NEWALL, RFC

"Albert Medal of the First Class

"Major Cyril Louis Norton Newall,2nd Gurkha Rifles (attached to the Royal Flying Corps).

Albert Medal of the Second Class.

"Corporal Henry Hearne, Royal Flying Corps.

1st Class Air Mechanic Harrie Stephen Harwood, Royal Flying Corps.

2nd Class Air Mechanic Alfred Edward Simms, Royal Flying Corps.

On the 3rd January,1916,at about 3 p.m., a fire broke out inside, a large bomb store belonging to the Royal Flying Corps, which contained nearly 2,000 high explosive bombs, some of which had very large charges, and a number of incendiary bombs which were burning freely.  Major Newall at once took all necessary precautions, and then, assisted by Air Mechanic Simms, poured water into the shed through a hole made by the flames.  He sent for the key of the store, and with Corporal Hearne, Harwood and Simms  entered the building and succeeded in putting out the flames.  The wooden cases containing the bombs were burnt, and some of them were charred to a cinder."

(London Gazette - 19 May 1916)

Newall transferred to the RAF in 1918 and eventual became Chief of the Air Staff and retired as Marshal of the RAF Lord Newall of Clifton upon Dunmoor

Biographical details

 

LAC Albert Matthew OSBORNE RAFVR

Born: 19 Oct 06        Died: 1 Apr 42        

Age when awarded: 35

"The KING has been graciously pleased to approve the posthumous award of the GEORGE CROSS to: -

1058637 Leading Aircraftman Albert Matthew Osborne, Royal Air Force.

During a period of fierce enemy air attacks on Malta, Leading Aircraftman Osborne has displayed unsurpassed courage and devotion to duty. In circumstances of the greatest danger he was always first at hand to deal with emergencies, whether in fire fighting operations or in rescue work. The following are examples of his promptitude and gallantry: -

Rendered safe the torpedo of a burning torpedo aircraft, working 3 feet from the main petrol tank for ten minutes.  

Extinguished a burning aircraft during a heavy bombing attack.

Attempted to save a burning aircraft and subsequently removed torpedoes from the vicinity.

Assisted in saving the pilot of a burning aircraft and extinguishing the fire. 

Saved an aircraft from destruction by fire. 

Attempted for six hours to extricate airmen from a bombed shelter, despite continued heavy bombing and . danger, from - falling stone-work.

Fought fires in two aircraft, his efforts resulting in the saving of one.

Freed the parachute of a burning flare caught in an aircraft, enabling the pilot to taxy clear.

Checked the fire in a burning aircraft, the greater part of which was undamaged.

The last three incidents occurred on the same day. Leading Aircraftman Osborne was unfortunately killed on 2nd April, 1942.  During an intense, air attack he led a party to extinguish the flames of a burning aircraft. A petrol tank exploded and he was injured and affected by the fumes. On recovery, he. returned to fight the fire and was killed by the explosion of an air vessel while attempting to pour water over torpedoes which were in danger of exploding. 

This airman's fearless courage and great leadership on all occasions have been beyond praise. The Air Officer Commanding, Royal Air Force Mediterranean, has stated that he was " one of the bravest airmen it has been my privilege to meet "."

(London Gazette - 10 July 1942)

 

Sgt Graham Leslie PARISH RAFVR

Born: 29 Aug 1912        Died: 16 Sep 1942        

Age when awarded: 30

"The KING has been graciously pleased to approve the posthumous award of the GEORGE CROSS to: -

1115314 Sergeant Graham Leslie Parish, Royal Air Force.

Sergeant Parish was the navigator of an aircraft during a delivery flight from the United Kingdom to the Middle East Command. Shortly after taking off from an airfield in Anglo-Egyptian Sudan one morning in September, 1942, the port engine failed and the pilot attempted to return and land on the airfield. Owing to the rough nature of the ground, full use could not be made of the brakes. The aircraft struck a building on the airfield and immediately burst into flames.

All of the crew with the exception of Sergeant Parish and a passenger, whose legs were both broken, succeeded in getting free of the blazing bomber. At the time of the crash Sergeant Parish was at the astro-hatch and the passenger was at the emergency door which is in the floor of the fuselage. This door was unusable as the undercarriage had collapsed and the fuselage was resting on the ground. The fire, which completely destroyed the bomber, was so intense that no assistance could be given to the navigator or the passenger. When the blaze subsided Sergeant Parish's body was found leaning against the rear gun turret and the passenger was beside him with his arm over the airman's shoulder. As the passenger could not walk, owing to his broken legs, it is clear that Sergeant Parish has carried him from the .emergency door to the rear turret, a distance of eight yards, in the hope that both could escape through the turret. Undoubtedly both were overcome and burned to death in the attempt. Sergeant Parish could have made his escape through the astro-hatch but his unselfish desire to assist the passenger. cost him his life.  He displayed gallantry of the highest order."

(London Gazette - 2 April 1943)

 

Plt Off Edward Donald PARKER DFC, RAFVR

Born: 20 May 1910        Died: 16 Jan 1943        

Age when awarded: 30

"The KING has been graciously pleased to approve the following Awards: —

The Medal of the Military Division of the Most Excellent Order of the British Empire, for Gallantry:—

Pilot Officer Edward Donald PARKER (76465), Royal Air Force Volunteer Reserve.

On the night of June 8th, 1940, this officer was first pilot of an 'aircraft detailed for bombing operations. Just after taking off in complete darkness the port engine failed. 

Displaying great coolness Pilot Officer Parker immediately raised (the undercarriage and tried to fly straight on, but found that he could gain neither height or speed with his heavily loaded aircraft on only one engine. Reducing speed to 80 m.p.h. he switched off his engine and " felt " the aircraft into the nearest field in complete darkness. The aircraft crashed however and immediately burst ' into flames. Pilot Officer Parker jumped out and got clear to find that his navigator and air gunner were safe but the wireless operator was lying stunned near the burning aircraft. With complete disregard for his own personal safety and knowing there were four 500 lb. bombs in the wreckage, which might explode any moment, he returned and carried his wireless operator to a place of safety. During this action one of the bombs exploded and Pilot Officer Parker saved the airman further ' injury by throwing him to the ground. This officer displayed exceptional coolness, resourcefulness and courage throughout and, in face of extreme danger, undoubtedly saved the life of his wireless operator."

(London Gazette - 6 August 1940)

 

Cpl Joan Daphne Mary PEARSON WAAF

Born: 26 May 1911        Died: 25 Jul 2000        

Age when awarded: 29

"The KING has been graciously pleased to approve the following Awards: —

The Medal of the Military Division of the Most Excellent Order of the British Empire, for Gallantry:—

880538 Corporal (now Assistant Section Officer) Joan Daphne Mary Pearson, Women's Auxiliary Air Force.

On the 31st May, 1940, at 0100 hours an aircraft crashed near the Women's Auxiliary Air Force quarters, the pilot being seriously injured, another officer killed outright and two airmen slightly injured. Upon hearing the crash Corporal Pearson rushed out to it and, although the aircraft was burning and she knew that there were bombs aboard, she stood on the wreckage, roused the pilot, who was stunned, and assisted him in getting clear, releasing his parachute harness in doing so. When he was on the ground about 30 yards away, a 120 Ib. bomb went off. Corporal Pearson at once threw herself on top of the pilot to protect him from blast and splinters. Her prompt and courageous action undoubtedly helped to save the pilot's life."

(London Gazette - 19 July 1940)

 

Sqn Ldr Rev Herbert Cecil PUGH RAFVR

Born: 2 Nov 1998        Died: 5 Jul 1941

Age when awarded: 42

"The KING has been graciously pleased to approve the posthumous award of the GEORGE CROSS to: -

The Reverend Herbert Cecil PUGH, M.A. (Oxon.), Royal Air Force Volunteer Reserve (deceased).

The Reverend H. C. Pugh, after seeing service in this country, was posted to Takoradi and embarked on H.M.T. Anselm, carrying over 1,300 passengers', for West Africa at the end of June, 1941. She was torpedoed in the Atlantic in the early hours of the 5th July, 1941. One torpedo tit a hold on Deck C, destroying the normal means of escape. Mr. Pugh came up on deck in a dressing gown and gave all the help he could. 

He seemed to be everywhere at once, doing his best to comfort the injured, helping with the boats and rafts (two of these were rendered unserviceable as a result of the explosion) and visiting the different lower sections where the men were quartered. When he learned that a number of injured airmen were trapped in the damaged hold, he insisted on being lowered into it with a rope.

Everyone demurred because the hold was below the water line and already the decks were awash and to go down was to go to certain death. He simply explained that he must be where his men were.  The deck level was already caving hi and the hold was three parts full of water so that, when he knelt to pray, the water reached his shoulders.  Within a few minutes the ship plunged and sank and Mr. Pugh was never seen again. He had every opportunity of saving his own life but, without regard to his own safety and in the best tradition of the Service and of a Christian Minister, he gave up his life for others."

(London Gazette - 1 April 1947)

 

Flt. Lt John  Alan QUINTON DFC, RAF

Born: 2 Feb 1921        Died: 13 Aug 1951        

Age when awarded: 30

"The KING has been graciously pleased to approve the posthumous award of the GEORGE CROSS to: -

Flight Lieutenant John Alan QUINTON, D.F.C. (115714), Royal Air Force, No. 228 Operational Conversion Unit.

On August the 13th, 1951, Flight Lieutenant Quinton was a Navigator under instruction in a Wellington aircraft which was involved in a midair collision. The sole survivor from the crash was an Air Training Corps Cadet who was a passenger in the aircraft, and he has established the fact that his life was saved by a supreme act of gallantry displayed by Flight Lieutenant Quinton who in consequence sacrificed his own life. Both Flight Lieutenant Quinton and the cadet were in the rear compartment of the aircraft when the collision occurred. The force of the impact caused the aircraft to break up and as it was plunging towards the earth out of control Flight Lieutenant Quinton picked up the only parachute within reach and clipped it on to the cadet's harness. He pointed to the rip cord and a gaping hole in the aircraft, thereby indicating that the cadet should jump. At that moment a further portion of the aircraft was torn away and the cadet was flung through the side of the aircraft clutching his rip cord, which he subsequently pulled and landed safely. Flight Lieutenant Quinton acted with superhuman speed, displaying the most commendable courage and self-sacrifice as he well knew that in giving up the only parachute within reach he was forfeiting any chance of saving his own life. Such an act of heroism and humanity ranks with the very highest traditions of the Royal Air Force, besides establishing him as a very gallant and courageous officer who, by his action, displayed the most conspicuous heroism."

(London Gazette - 23 October 1951)

 

Sgt William Ernest RHOADES MSM, RFC

Born: 6 Feb 1888        Died: 4 Mar 1972        

Age when awarded: 29

"Lieutenant Frederick Stuart Smith and Sergeant William Ernest Rhoades, both of the Royal Flying Corps.

At an aerodrome in France, on the 14th October, 1916, a bomb accidentally exploded in the mouth of a dug-out forming a bomb store, which contained a large number of bombs packed in wooden cases and a quantity of rockets. Two men were killed by the explosion, and another man, who was severely injured, was thrown down into the store. Dense volumes of smoke issued from, the dug-out, and there was great risk of a further explosion. Lieutenant (then 2nd Lieutenant) Smith, on hearing a call for help, immediately entered -the dug-out, followed by Sergeant Rhoades, and succeeded in rescuing the wounded man, who would otherwise have been suffocated."

(London Gazette - 1 January 1918)

 

Geoffrey RILEY

Born: xx xxx 1930              Died: 16 Jan 2005  

He was awarded the Albert Medal as a 14 Year old in 1944 and later served in the RAF as a National Serviceman.

Act Flt.Cdr. Paul Douglas ROBERTSON CBE

 

Act Wg Cdr John Samuel ROWLANDS MBE, RAFVR

Born: 23 Sep 1915                

Age when awarded: 27

"The KING has been graciously pleased to approve the award of the GEORGE CROSS to: -

Acting Wing Commander John Samuel Rowlands, M.B.E. (73378), Royal Air Force Volunteer Reserve.

For over 2 years, Wing Commander Rowlands has been employed on bomb disposal duties and has repeatedly displayed the most conspicuous courage and unselfish devotion to duty in circumstances of great personal danger."

(London Gazette - 10 August 1943)

Rowlands remained in the RAF, was partly responsible for developing the RAF's first nuclear weapons and  eventually retired as Air Marshal Sir John Rowlands.

 

Flt Lt Frederick Joseph RUTLAND RNAS

"The KING has been graciously pleased to confer the Decoration of the Albert Medal of the First Class on -

Lieutenant Frederick Joseph Rutland, R.N. (Flight Lieutenant, Royal Naval Air Service).

The following is the account of the services in respect of which the Decoration has been conferred: —

During the transhipment of the crew of H.M.S. " Warrior " to H.M.S. " Engadine " on the morning of the 1st of June, 1916, succeeding the naval battle off the coast of Jutland, one of the severely wounded, owing to the violent motion of the two ships, was accidentally dropped overboard from a stretcher and fell between the ships. As the ships were working most dangerously, the Commanding Officer of the " Warrior " had to forbid two of his officers from jumping overboard to the rescue of the wounded man, as he considered that it would mean their almost certain death.

Before he could be observed, however, Lieutenant Rutland, of H.M.S. " Engadine," went overboard from the forepart of that ship with a bowline, and worked himself aft. He succeeded in putting the bowline around the wounded man and in getting him hauled on board, but it was then found that the man was dead, having been crushed between the two ships1. Lieutenant Rutland's escape from a similar fate was. miraculous. His bravery  is reported to have been magnificent."

(London Gazette - 11 August 1916)

 

AM2 Alfred Edward SIMMS RFC.

"Albert Medal of the Second Class.

Corporal Henry Hearne, Royal Flying Corps.

1st Class Air Mechanic Harrie Stephen Harwood, Royal Flying Corps.

2nd Class Air Mechanic Alfred Edward Simms, Royal Flying Corps.

On the 3rd January,1916,at about 3 p.m., a fire broke out inside, a large bomb store belonging to the Royal Flying Corps, which contained nearly 2,000 high explosive bombs, some of which had very large charges, and a number of incendiary bombs which were burning freely.  Major Newall at once took all necessary precautions, and then, assisted by Air Mechanic Simms, poured water into the shed through a hole made by the flames.  He sent for the key of the store, and with Corporal Hearne, Harwood and Simms  entered the building and succeeded in putting out the flames.  The wooden cases containing the bombs were burnt, and some of them were charred to a cinder."

(London Gazette - 19 May 1916)

 

Wg Cdr Laurence Frank SINCLAIR KCB, CBE, DSO* RAF

Born: 13 Jun 1908        Died: 14 May 2001   

Age when awarded: 32

"The KING has been graciously pleased to approve the award of the GEORGE CROSS to the undermentioned: -

“During a night in September, 1940, an aircraft burst into flames whilst taking off. Wing Commander Sinclair immediately went to the scene to render assistance, but two 250 1b. bombs exploded before he reached it. Undeterred, and knowing that two more bombs were in the aircraft, he pressed on and dashing into the fire he succeeded in dragging the air gunner to a safe distance. In this act this officer displayed the most complete disregard for his own safety. Unfortunately the rescued air gunner has since died of his injuries.”

(London Gazette  21 January 1941)

Sinclair was OC, No 110 Squadron (Wattisham) at the time of this incident and he remained in the RAF eventually retiring as Air Vice-Marshal Sir Laurence Sinclair.

Biographical details

 

Lt Frederick Stuart SMITH 

"Lieutenant Frederick Stuart Smith and Sergeant William Ernest Rhoades, both of the Royal Flying Corps.

At an aerodrome in France, on the 14th October, 1916, a bomb accidentally exploded in the mouth of a dug-out forming a bomb store, which contained a large number of bombs packed in wooden cases and a quantity of rockets. Two men were killed by the explosion, and another man, who was severely injured, was thrown down into the store. Dense volumes of smoke issued from, the dug-out, and there was great risk of a further explosion. Lieutenant (then 2nd Lieutenant) Smith, on hearing a call for help, immediately entered -the dug-out, followed by Sergeant Rhoades, and succeeded in rescuing the wounded man, who would otherwise have been suffocated."

(London Gazette - 1 January 1918)

 

Captain Patrick Gordon TAYLOR OBE, MC    (Later Sir)

 

Fg Off Anthony Henry Hamilton TOLLEMACHE AuxAF

Born: 3 Aug 1913        Died: 20 Feb 1977        

Age when awarded: 27

"The KING has been graciously pleased to approve the following Awards: —

The Medal of the Military Division of the Most Excellent Order of the British Empire, for Gallantry: -

Flying Officer Anthony Henry Hamilton TOLLEMACHE (goioo), Auxiliary Air Force. 

On the night of 11th March, 1940, this officer was pilot of an aircraft which carried a passenger and an air gunner and was engaged in a searchlight co-operation exercise.  When approaching the flare-path to land, at 2320 hours, after completing the exercise, the aircraft struck a tree and crashed into a field, where it immediately burst into flames. Flying Officer Tollemache was thrown clear of the wreckage, and his air gunner was able to escape. Realising, however, that his passenger was still in the aircraft Flying Officer Tollemache, with complete disregard of the intense conflagration or the explosion of small arms ammunition, endeavoured to break through the forward hatch and effect a rescue. He persisted in this gallant attempt until driven off with his clothes blazing. His efforts, though in vain, resulted in injuries which nearly cost him his life. Had he not attempted the rescue it is considered he would have escaped almost unscathed."

(London Gazette - 6 August 1940)

Fg Off Tollemache was a member of No 600 Sqn AuxAF.

 

Constable Carl WALKER 

 

Flt Sgt Albert Edgar WARNE RFC

"The KING has been pleased to award the Albert Medal in each of the following cases In recognition of gallantry displayed in saving or endeavouring to save life: -

Flight-Sergeant Albert Edgar Warne, 24th Wing Aeroplane Repair Section, ,and Flight Sergeant Horace Cannon, No. 50 Training Squadron.

On the 26th January last, while flying in England, a pilot when attempting to land lost control of his machine, which crashed to the ground from a height of about 150 feet, and burst into flames. Flight Sergeants Warne and Cannon went to the rescue of the pilot at great personal risk, as one tank of petrol blew up and another was on fire; moreover, the machine (was equipped with a belt of live cartridges, which they dragged out of the flames. 

They managed to extricate the pilot, who was strapped to the 'burning plane, but he died shortly afterwards from his injuries and burns."

(London Gazette - 26 April 1918)

 

Flt. Lt.Victor Albert WATSON

 

Plt Off Sidney Noel WILTSHIRE RAF

Born: 12 Dec 1909        Died: 29 Sep 2003        

Age when awarded: 

"The KING has been graciously pleased to approve of the Award of the Medal of the Military Division of the Most Excellent Order of the British Empire to the undermentioned:—

For Gallantry.

Pilot Officer Sidney Noel Wiltshire, Royal Air Force.

For conspicuous gallantry displayed at Temple Bruer Landing Ground, Sleaford, on 21st October, 1929.  This officer, who is a pilot under instruction, was flying with his instructor, Flying Officer H. E. Power, in an aeroplane that crashed on landing and at once caught fire. Having extricated himself from the wrecked machine, he found that his companion's foot was caught in the wreckage and that he could not get out. Although fully realising the risk he was running, Pilot Officer Wiltshire re-entered the flames and helped Flying Officer Power to get clear, during which process he sustained burns on his neck and face. Power's clothing was by this time well alight and he would undoubtedly have lost his life but for the prompt and courageous action taken by his pupil. As it was, he was badly burnt. 

Both officers were shortly afterwards taken by air to Cranwell Hospital. The aeroplane was completely burnt out."

(London Gazette - 31 January 1930)

 

Flt Sgt Stanley James WOODBRIDGE, RAFVR

Born: 29 Aug 1921        Died: 7 Feb 1945        

Age when awarded: 38

"The KING has been graciously pleased to approve the award of the GEORGE CROSS to -

1393806 Flight Sergeant Stanley James WOODBRIDGE (deceased), Royal Air Force Volunteer Reserve, No 159 Squadron.

Flight Sergeant Woodbridge was a wireless operator in the crew of a Liberator aircraft which crashed in the jungle in Burma whilst engaged in an operation against the Japanese on 31st January, 1945. Together with five other members of the crew he was captured by the Japanese.  All six were subjected to torture at the hands of their captors in an endeavour to obtain information which would have been of use to the Japanese Intelligence Service.  Eventually the four non-commissioned officers were separated and conveyed by motor transport to a forest, where they were put to death by beheading. Three officers and three non-commissioned officers of the Imperial Japanese Army were subsequently brought to trial by a Military Court charged with the torture and murder of the four airmen, they were all found guilty.  Three were hanged and three sentenced to terms of rigorous imprisonment. At the trial it was revealed that the Japanese concentrated their efforts on Flight Sergeant Woodbridge, the wireless operator, in an endeavour to obtain technical information regarding wireless equipment, secret codes, wavelengths, etc.

A Japanese technical officer was detailed to make the interrogation and the services of two interpreters were engaged, but, in spite of repeated torture, including kicking, beating with belts and with a sword, Flight Sergeant Woodbridge steadfastly refused to reveal any information whatever. The final interrogation took place actually at the place of execution, when it was obvious to the unfortunate prisoner that he was to be put to death, even so he maintained his courageous attitude to the end, merely remarking that if the Japanese were going to kill him they should do it quickly After all efforts to make him speak, including further torture, were found to be fruitless this gallant non-commissioned officer was beheaded on 7th February, 1945 Flight Sergeant Woodbridge behaved throughout with supreme courage His fortitude, loyalty to his country and his complete disregard for his own safety, even unto death, constitute one of the highest examples of valour in the annals of the Royal Air Force"

(London Gazette - 28 September 1948)

 

Act Wg Cdr Forest Frederick Edward YEO-THOMAS  MC & Bar, RAFVR

Born: 17 Jun 1901        Died: 26 Feb 1964       

Age when awarded: 45

"The KING has been .graciously pleased to award the GEORGE CROSS to: -

Acting Wing Commander Forest Frederick Edward YEO-THOMAS, M.C. (39215), Royal Air Force Volunteer Reserve.

This officer was parachuted into France on the 25th February, 1943. He showed much courage and initiative during his mission, particularly when he enabled a French officer who was -being followed by a Gestapo agent in Paris to reach safety and resume clandestine work in another area. He also took charge of a U.S. Army Air Corps officer who had .been shot down and, speaking no French, was in danger of capture. This officer returned to England on the 15th April, 1943, in the aircraft which picked up Wing Commander Yeo-.Thomas. 

Wing Commander Yeo-Thomas undertook a second mission on the I7th September, 1943.  Soon after his arrival in France many patriots were arrested. Undeterred, he continued his enquiries and obtained information which enabled the desperate situation to be rectified. On six occasions he narrowly escaped arrest. He returned to England on the 15th November, 1943, bringing British intelligence archives which he had secured from a house watched by the Gestapo.

This officer was again parachuted into France in February, 19144. Despite every security precaution he was (betrayed to the Gestapo in Paris on the 21ist March. While being taken by car to Headquarters he was badly " beaten up ".  He then underwent 4 days continuous interrogation, interspersed with 'beatings and torture, including immersions, head downwards, in ice-cold water, with legs and arms chained. Interrogations later continued for 2 months and Wing Commander Yeo-Thomas was offered his freedom in return for information concerning the Head of a Resistance Secretariat. Owing to his wrist being cut by chains, he contracted blood-poisoning and nearly lost his left arm. He made two daring but unsuccessful attempts to escape. He was then confined in solitude in Fresnes prison for 4 months, including 3 weeks in a darkened cell with very little food. Throughout these months of almost continuous torture, he steadfastly refused to disclose any information.

On the 17th July, Wing Commander Yeo-Thomas was sent with a party to Compiegne prison, from which he twice attempted to escape. He and 36 others were then transferred to Buchenwald. On the way, they stopped for 3 days at Saarbrucken, where they were beaten and kept in a tiny hut.  They arrived at Buchenwald on the 16th August and 16 of them were executed and cremated on the 10th September. Wing Commander Yeo-Thomas had already commenced to organise resistance within the camp and remained undaunted by the prospect of a similar fate. He accepted an opportunity of changing his identity with that of a dead French prisoner, on condition that other officers would also be enabled to do so. In this way, he was instrumental in saving the lives of two officers. 

Wing Commander Yeo-Thomas was later transferred to a work kommando for Jews. In attempting to escape he was picked up by a German patrol and, claiming French nationality, was transferred to a camp near Marienburg for French prisoners of war. On the 16th April, 1945, he led a party of 20 in a most gallant attempt to escape in broad daylight. 10 were killed by fire from the guards. Those who reached cover split up into small groups. Wing Commander Yeo-Thomas became separated from his companions after 3 days without food. He continued alone for a week and was recaptured when only 500 yards from the American lines. A few days later he escaped with a party of 10 French prisoners of war, whom he led through German patrols to the American lines.

Wing Commander Yeo-Thomas thus turned his final mission into a success by his determined opposition to the enemy, his strenuous efforts to maintain the morale of his fellow-prisoners and his brilliant escape activities. He endured brutal treatment and torture without flinching and showed the most amazing fortitude and devotion to duty throughout his service abroad, during which he was under the constant threat of death. 

(London Gazette - 15 February 1946)

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