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Introduction

This page is concerned with the George Medal, the 2nd highest gallantry award that a civilian can be awarded.

The George Medal was instituted, together with the George Cross, on 24 September 1940. At that time there was a particular need to reward a great many people in all walks of life. However, it was the intention of the authorities that the George Cross should stand supreme and that its position as the 'civilian Victoria Cross' should not be undermined by the award of larger numbers. The result was that the George Medal, or GM, was introduced as a 'junior' to the George Cross.

The George Medal is the 2nd highest, to the George Cross,  gallantry medal that a civilian can win. As with the George Cross, Military personnel are eligible for the George Medal if their act does not qualify for a military gallantry award.

The original warrant for the George Medal did not permit it to be awarded posthumously. This was changed in November 1977, and the George Medal has been awarded posthumously several times since this date.

The following tables lists some of the first instances involving the award of the George Medal. The dates shown are those when the incident took place. The gazetting of the George Medal would have been sometime later, and after the George Medal was introduced on 24 September 1940.

Type of First Incident

Details

First Civilian Incident

RNLI Coxswain R. Cross on 22 February 1940

First Military Incident

Captain G.O. Brooks on 28 March 1940

First incident in UK mainland Captain S.W. Warrick on 19 March 1940
First air raid incident Mr. R.J. Lewis & Mr. F. Mallia on 11-16 June 1940 (in Malta)
First air raid incident in UK Mr. G.W. Howe, Mr. W. Sigsworth, Mr. G.S. Sewell, Mr. J. Owen & Mr. C. Turner on 1 July 1940
First action by a women Mrs. D. Clarke & Mrs. B.J. Hepburn on 8 July 1940

First Honorary Award

Pilot Officer J.H.F. Hansen (Danish citizen) RAFVR on 18 December 1940

First Merchant Navy Incident

Mr. E.L. Barnes on 23 August to 5 September 1940

First Bar to Civilian GM

Mr. G.S. Sewell on 8-9 May 1941

First Bar to Military GM

Sub-Lieutenant J. Bridge on 17 May 1941

The George Medal is a circular silver medal. The obverse depicts the effigy of the sovereign and the reverse show St. George slaying the dragon on the coast of England. The ribbon is red with five narrow stripes, the blue stripe colour being 'borrowed' from the George Cross ribbon.

A complete list of George Medal holders 1940-1983 can be found in the book "Dragons Can be Defeated" by D.V. Henderson.

Recent George Medal Awards

There have been several recent awards of the George Medal. As can be seen by the table below, the vast majority have been posthumous awards.

The list is in the order of the "Incident Date" which is not necessarily the order that the George Medal award was published in the London Gazette. Except in the case of Lisa Potts (who survived the attack on her despite her injuries), the George Medal was presented to the recipient's next-of-kin.

Name Occupation Brief Summary of Incident Date of Incident Remarks
Lisa Potts School Teacher Protected her class children from machete attack June 1997 Survived
Eliza Ward restaurant employee Saving life of her stabbed restaurant manager July 1997 Posthumous
William Deacon Winchman Rescued ship's crew during storm November 1997 Posthumous
Tony Doherty Rescue craft worker Attempted rescue of man who fell into North Sea February 1998 Posthumous
Andrew Pennington Civilian Saved the life of a man attacked with a sword  January 2000 Posthumous
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