The George Cross

The George Cross is the highest gallantry award for civilians, as well as for members of the armed forces in actions for which purely military honours would not normally be granted. Sometimes known as the Civilian Victoria Cross, it ranks after the Victoria Cross in precedence. It was instituted on 24 September 1940 by King George VI. At this time, during the height of the Blitz, there was a strong desire to reward the many acts of civilian courage. The existing awards open to civilians were not judged suitable to meet the new situation, therefore it was decided that the George Cross and the George Medal would be instituted to recognise both civilian gallantry in the face of enemy action and brave deeds more generally.

The George Cross

Empire Gallantry Medal

The GC replaced the Medal of the Most Excellent Order of the British Empire for Gallantry aka Empire Gallantry Medal (EGM) and all holders of the EGM were obliged to exchange their medals for a GC, However, the substitution policy ignored holders of the Albert Medal (AM) and the Edward Medal (EM), both of which took precedence over the EGM. In 1971, when the surviving recipients of the AM and the EM became the George Cross, recipients and were invited to exchange their medal for the George Cross. Of the 64 holders of the Albert Medal and 68 holders of the Edward Medal eligible to exchange, 49 and 59 respectively took up the option.

The GC has been awarded 411 times to individuals and two collective awards were made to Malta and the Royal Ulster Constabulary.  Images open in a new window, links open in the relevant page at victoriacrossonline . Some images courtesy of Mark Green. ​​

Edward Reynolds GC
1917 – 14/12/1955
St Peters Churchyard, Harborne

Reginald Ellingworth GC
28/01/1898 – 21/09/1940
Portsmouth Milton Cemetery

John Frederick Bell GC.
1872 – 05/1950
Great Malvern Cemetery, Worcestershire.

George Walter Inwood GC
22/09/1905 – 16/10/1940
Yardley Cemetery, Birmingham

 Richard John Ryan GC RN.
23/07/1903 – 21/09/1940
Haslar Royal Naval Cemetery

Richard John Knowlton AM.
11/05/1899 – 24/08/1981
London Road Cemetery, Salisbury

David Booker EM
19/10/1910 – 01/04/1982
Bloxwich Cemetery

Samuel Booker EM
19/10/1910 – 12/1979
Bloxwich Cemetery

George Paterson Niven EGM
1898 ? – 02/02/1947
Yardley Cemetery, Yardley, Birmingham.

Alexander Fraser Campbell GC
02/05/1898 – 18/10/1940
London Road Cemetery, Coventry

Michael Gibson GC
06/1906 – 18/10/1940
London Road Cemetery, Coventry

Paul Douglas Robertson GC
1892 – 04/08/1975
Purewa Cemetery, Auckland, New Zealand

Robert Murray Kavanaugh AM
18/12/1906 – 12/09/1976
Field of Mars Cemetery, Australia 

John Thomas Baker EM
14/04/1912 – 07/12/2000
Windmill Road Cemetery, Coventry.

Horace William Madden GC
14/02/1924 – 06/11/1951
UN Military Cemetery, Busan, Korea

Wally Oakes GC
23/04/1922 – 12/06/1965
St Matthew’s Churchyard, Haslington

Bertram Stuart T Archer GC
03/02/1915 – 03/05/2015
New Southgate Crematorium

Frederick Davies GC
17/02/1913 –  23/08/1945
Kensal Green Cemetery, London

John *Jock” Rennie GC
1919 – 29/10/1943
Brookwood Cemetery

James Hendry GC
20/12/1911 – 13/06/1941
Brookwood Cemetery


Forest Frederick Edward “Tommy” Yeo-Thomas GC
17/06/1902 – 26/02/1964
Brookwood Cemtery

Donald Owen Clarke GC
Body not recovered
Tower Hill Merchant Navy Memorial

John Weller EM
1889 -14/12/1978
Richmond Cemetery, Yorkshire

Violette Reine Elizabeth Szabo. GC.
26/06/1921 – 05/02/1945
No known grave. 
SOE Memorial, Lambeth, London

Civil Defence GC Recipients plaque
National Memorial Arboretum

Royal Ulster Constabulary GC Memorial.
National Memorial Arboretum


DRW © 2008-2021. Created 13/05/2015. Removed captions and changed to paragraphs, linked to individual pages 15/03 -18/03/2017. Special thanks to Kevin Brazier and Mark Green. Photos of gravesites of John Frederick Bell, Horace Madden, Robert Kavanaugh, John Weller, Edward Reynolds, Paul D Roberston, Michael Gibson, John Thomas Baker, Alexander Fraser Campbell  and the Booker Brothers by Mark Green. All rights reserved.