John Thomas “Tom” Baker (14/04/1912 – 07/12/2000) was awarded the Edward Medal for his actions at the South Garesfield Colliery on 17 May 1929
“He was 17 years old and working at the South Garesfield Colliery when Deputy Richard Lowes was injured during blasting operations. Baker went down the pit with James Purvis and Overman Robert Glendenning; collecting a tram and stretcher, they went in search of the deputy. They were joined by Hewers John Kenny and Samuel Hughff. Meanwhile another party of 5 men had attempted a rescue, but 4 of them had become overcome with gas while the 5th crawled out just in time. The overman organised his party and through repeated efforts they succeeded in extricating the 5 men, 3 of whom were dead. The rescue party were all affected by the fumes and both Kenny and Hughff were overcome and had to be removed. For an hour, during which time the atmosphere was thick with smoke and gas, they knowingly and repeatedly risked their lives in determined efforts to save the lives of their colleagues. There is no doubt that the death toll would have been higher if it was not for their actions.”
He is buried in Windmill Road Cemetery, Coventry.
© DRW 2016-2018. Created 17/03/2017. Images and information courtesy of Mark Green
Horace William Madden (14/02/1924 – 06/11/1951) was awarded the George Cross for his actions between 24 April and 06 November 1951, while a Prisoner of War at Kapyong, Korea.
“He was 26 years old and serving in the 3rd Battalion, Royal Australian Regiment when he was captured by Chinese communist forces. Despite the repeated beatings and many forms of ill-treatment because of his defiance towards his captors. Although deprived of food, resulting in severe malnutrition, he was known to share his meagre supplies, purchased from Koreans, with other prisoners who were sick. For over 6 months, despite his own health failing, he resisted stoutly and never co-operated with the enemy. He died from malnutrition in late 1951.”
He is buried in the United Nations Military Cemetery, Busan, Korea.
© DRW 2016-2018. Created 16/02/2017. Image and Information courtesy of Mark Green.
Paul Douglas Robertson (1892 – 04/08/1975) was awarded the Albert Medal for his actions at Hornsea, Lincolnshire, on 28/02/1918 while an Acting Flight Commander, Royal Naval Air Service, in command of Hornsea Mere Sub-Station.
“On 28th February 1918, a seaplane got out of control and spun to the ground. Robertson, the observer, jumped from the machine just before he hit the ground and landed safely, as the ground was marshy. The pilot, Flight Lieutenant HC Lemon, was imprisoned in the seaplane, which, on striking the ground, immediately burst into flames, and notwithstanding that the vicinity of the seaplane was quickly a furnace of burning petrol, and that heavy bombs, a number of rounds of ammunition, and the reserve petrol tank were all likely to explode, Robertson returned and endeavoured to extricate the pilot, and only desisted when he had been so severely burned in the face, hands and leg that his recovery was for some time in doubt.”
He exchanged his Albert Medal for a George Cross by post in 1972, since he was not well enough to travel to London for the investiture.
He is buried in Purewa Cemetery, Auckland, New Zealand.
© DRW 2016-2018. Created 16/03/2017. Images and information courtesy of Mark Green.
George Walter Inwood (22/09/1905 – 16/10/1940) was awarded the George Cross while serving with the Home Guard in Birmingham between 15-16 October 1940.
“He was 34 years old and serving in the Home Guard. After a heavy air raid, Inwood and 6 other men, with the aid of the police, discovered a number of people trapped in a cellar in Bishop Street. Inwood was lowered into the cellar by rope and managed to bring two men out alive. The rescue was particularly difficult as not only was he working in a gas-filled space but those he was trying to save were already unconscious. Although suffering the effects of gas, he insisted on going down again, but collapsed and died.”
He is buried in Yardley Cemetery, Yardley, Birmingham.
© DRW 2016-2018. Created 16/03/2017. Image and information courtesy of Mark Green.
David Booker (19/10/1910 – 01/04/1982) and his brother Samuel Booker (19/10/1910 – 12/1979) are the only two brothers to be awarded the Edward Medal; for their actions at Littleton Colliery in South Staffordshire on 14/05/1937
“They were both 26 years old and working at Littleton Colliery when David and his brother Samuel, were part of a rescue party trying to locate three missing men during a firedamp incident. Some of the party also collapsed, thereby adding to the task of the rescue workers. The brothers forced their way on four or five times, and were jointly responsible for extricating four rescuers who had succumbed to gas. All of these men survived except Mr Richard Walmsley, the Under Manager; the three missing men also died, bringing the total deaths to 4. Both brothers were awarded the Edward Medal (later exchanged for George Cross).”
Samuel Booker EM
David Noel Booker EM
They are both buried in Bloxwich Cemetery, Bloxwich, West Midlands.
DRW © 2016-2018. Created 16/02/2017. Images and information courtesy of Mark Green
George Paterson Niven (1898 ? – 02/02/1947) was awarded the Empire Gallantry Medal for his actions on 26/07/1929 at Skiathos, Greece, as a member of the crew of HMS Devonshire.
“On 25th July 1929, HMS Devonshire was carrying out full calibre firing when at the first salvo there was a massive explosion in X turret, which blew off the turret roof. Marine Albert Streams was the only man in the gun turret not killed or badly wounded. He climbed to the top of the turret but, on looking down and seeing the conditions, he climbed back into the smoke and flames, notwithstanding the grave risk of further explosions. He then helped evacuate the dead and wounded; when all were removed, he collapsed. Anthony Cobham GC then took stretcher parties, including Niven, aft and ordered one crew to follow him and the other to rig hoses. On reaching the turret, they assisted the men who were on fire. Cobham and Niven did what they could for them and then went into the turret, where there was still a lot of cordite burning fiercely.”
Niven and Cobham were both awarded the EGM, which was eventually exchanged for the new George Cross in 1940. Niven died in Birmingham on 2nd February 1949 and is buried in an unmarked grave in Yardley Cemetery, Birmingham.
© DRW 2017-2018. Created 16/03/2017. Image and information courtesy of Mark Green
John Frederick Bell (1872 – 05/1950) was awarded the Empire Gallantry Medal (EGM) on on 17 May 1930 while employed as the Underground Manager at Ariston Gold Mine, Prestea, Gold Coast.
“John Frederick Bell showed great gallantry on the occasion of an accident in the mine on the 17th May, 1930, when he was instrumental in saving the lives of a number of natives who would have otherwise been gassed.
He was 58 years old and working at the Ariston Gold Mine when several natives were involved in an accident. Bell went in search of these men, and was instrumental in saving them from being gassed. Two other men who went in search of Bell both died from the gas, as would Bell have done when he too fell unconscious, were it not for the fact that his mouth was next to a leak in a compressed air pipe.”
He is buried in Great Malvern Cemetery, Worcestershire.
© DRW 2017-2018. Created 15/03/2017. Image courtesy of Mark Green. Information from Victoriacrossonline
Reginald Vincent Ellingworth (28/01/1898-21/09/1940) and Richard Ryan were awarded the GC for their actions during operations between 16 and 21 September 1940 at Clacton, Essex.
“He was 42 years old and serving in the Royal Navy when he was one of two officers who dealt with a Type C magnetic mine that fell at Clacton. When the first magnetic mines fell on London, Richard Ryan GC, with Chief Petty Officer Reginald Ellingworth, came forward without hesitation for the perilous work of making them safe, although with their unrivalled knowledge they were well aware of the dangers. The clock of the bomb fuse was normally timed to explode 21 seconds after impact. If it failed to do so, it might be restarted by the slightest movement. Together they dealt with 6 of these mines, one of them in a canal where they worked waist-deep in mud and water, making any escape impossible. The fuse could only be found and removed by groping for it under water. At Hornchurch they made safe a very hazardous mine which threatened the aerodrome and an explosives factory, and then they went to Dagenham to tackle a mine hanging from a parachute in a warehouse. Tragically, it exploded, killing them both.”
He is buried in Milton Cemetery in Portsmouth.
© DRW 2013-2018. Created 15/03/2017
Edward Womersley Reynolds (1917 – 14/12/1955) was awarded the Empire Gallantry Medal (EGM) for two separate incidents in Bristol in the late summer of 1940.
The Citation reads:
“Lieutenant Edward Womersley Reynolds, 101 and 102 Bomb Disposal Sections, RE.
On 17th August 1940, a 250kg bomb landed in a garden, but did not explode. On digging down 17ft, he found that it had a new type of fuse, about which no instructions had been received. However, he removed the fuse and found that it had a clockwork delayed action. This was of great merit due to the lack of any exact knowledge of this type of fuse. On 1st September a large bomb fell in Temple Street, wrecking the front of some business premises. However, on 3rd September an unexploded 250kg bomb was found in the debris. Reynolds, summoned to the scene, found it had a clockwork fuse that was still ticking; according to orders, he applied for instructions, suggesting that the sooner it was dealt with the better. Permission was given to attempt to disarm the bomb due to the effect on public morale. Lieutenant Reynolds removed the fuse and rendered the bomb inoperative. The risk in doing so was very considerable.”
His Empire Gallantry Medal was later exchanged for the George Cross (GC)
Edward passed away on 14th December 1955 in Birmingham and is buried in St Peters Churchyard, Harborne, Birmingham.
© DRW 2017-2018. Created 15/03/2017. Image courtesy of Mark Green.
The George Cross was awarded to the Island of Malta during the Second World War on 15 April 1942, so as to “bear witness to the heroism and devotion of its people” during the great siege it underwent in the early parts of World War II.
The memorial that I photographed was in London, close to Tower Bridge and Tower Hill at Google Earth co-ordinates 51° 30.567’N, 0° 4.792’W.
© DRW 2015 – 2018. Images taken in 08/2007.