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The George Cross

The George Cross was instituted by Royal Warrant on the 24 September 1940. It was conceived by King George VI as the civilian equivalent to the military Victoria Cross (VC). Awards of the GC to military personnel did occur where the action for which the award was made was not necessarily covered by an existing military honour.

The medal immediately replaced the Empire Gallantry Medal (EGM) and all recipients of the EGM (and relatives of those awarded posthumously since the outbreak of war) had their medals exchanged for the George Cross. The Albert and Edward medals continued to be awarded until 1971 when surviving holders of those medals were invited to exchange them for the GC.

It is also interesting to report on the youngest ever recipient of a George Cross was a young miner by the name of John Bamford, aged 15 years and 7 months. In the early hours of the morning of 19th October 1952 a fire started in the Bamford household and John, with his father, managed to get his mother and 3 of his siblings to safety but his two younger brothers were trapped in their bedroom. John managed to get to the boys and eventually throw them out of the window to his father below. John himself suffered sever burns to his upper body but managed to escape through the same window. He took over 4 months to recover and underwent many skin grafts.

John is not listed in the awards section of this site as his deed was not colliery related however such heroism by a young mine worker deserves special mention.