The Decoration, Facts and Statistics and Information about the Exchanges

The George Cross

George Cross Medal

In 1940, King George VI felt the need to formally recognise individual acts of outstanding bravery by the civilian population during the Blitz - Nazi Germany's bombing campaign against British cities. He decided to created an award for the men and women of the Commonwealth whose courage could not be marked by any other honour.

There existed many decorations and medals instituted by the King's predecessors for the reward of gallantry and meritorious conduct, but these, by their terms of reference, were largely restricted to members of the armed forces and only one of these, the Victoria Cross, was open to all ranks.

It was to meet this evident need that the King created the George Cross and George Medal. It was the fruit of long deliberation and much careful study, both as to eligibility and design.

The decoration consists of a plain silver cross, with the Royal cipher "GVI" in the angle of each limb. In the centre is a circular medallion showing St. George and the Dragon, and surrounded by the inscription, "For Gallantry". The reverse is plain and bears the name of the recipient and the date of the award. The cross, which is worn before all other decorations except the Victoria Cross, is suspended from a dark blue ribbon threaded through a bar adorned with laurel leaves.

George Cross Medal

Ladies not in uniform wear the George Cross, suspended from a wide bow of blue ribbon, below the left shoulder. Recipients of the decoration are permitted to add the post-nominal letters "GC" to their name. Although the decoration is given in the name of the Sovereign, it is awarded on the recommendation of the Prime Minister.

The King announced the creation of the George Cross in a broadcast to Britain and the Empire on 23rd September 1940.In his speech the King said: "In order that they should be worthily and promptly recognised I have decided to create at once a new mark of honour for men and women in all walks of civilian life. I propose to give my name to this new distinction,which will consist of the George Cross, which will rank next to the Victoria Cross, and the George Medal for wider distribution." The formal announcement of the new award appeared the following day. The warrant (see below) was published in the London Gazette on 31st January 1941.

The decoration is only awarded "for acts of the greatest heroism or of the most conspicuous courage in circumstances of extreme danger". It has been awarded directly to 156 people (84 posthumously). It was bestowed on more than 100 people during the Second World War. As in the case of Malta in 1942 and the recent award to the Royal Ulster Constabulary, the decoration may be awarded collectively to a group of people or service unit.

During World War Two there were instances when it was not easy to decide whether a Victoria Cross or a George Cross was the more proper award. The George Cross and George Medal were intended primarily to reward civilian bravery, but as many members of the armed forces were unavoidably engaged in work not appropriate for strictly military awards, they became eligible for the GC and GM. Consequently, 78 of the first 100 awards were made to members of the armed forces. Of the 156 direct awards of the George Cross made to the present day, only 49 have actually gone to civilians. The George Cross was the only posthumous civilian award until November 1977.

In addition to the direct awards of the George Cross there have been 245 translations or "transfers" from pre-existing gallantry awards to the George Cross. At the time of its inception, 108 living recipients and the next-of-kin of a further 4 posthumous recipients of the Empire Gallantry Medal exchanged their decoration for the GC, at which point the Empire Gallantry Medal became obsolete. In 1971 surviving holders of the Albert Medal (65) and Edward Medal (68) were also invited to exchange their decoration for the George Cross.

Some examples of more recent awards include, Air Stewardess Barbara Harrison who was posthumously honoured in 1969, after a BOAC jet crashed at Heathrow airport. She helped many passengers escape the crippled aircraft before perishing in the wreck. Several soldiers serving in Northern Ireland have received the George Cross, including in 1979, Captain Robert Nairac. In 1990, bomb disposal expert Warrant Officer Barry Johnson was recognised for an attempt to defuse a mortar bomb in Londonderry which left him seriously injured. A posthumous award was made in 1991 to Sergeant Stewart Guthrie of the New Zealand Police, who displayed bravery and courage attempting to apprehend a gunman in the town of Aramoana. On 31st October 2003, 19 year-old Trooper Christopher Finney of the Blues and Royals was awarded the George Cross for outstanding bravery after a 'friendly-fire' incident near Basrah in Iraq. The award was published in the London Gazette on 31st October 2003

 

The George Cross Warrants

The George Cross was instituted by a Royal Warrant dated 24th September 1940, and published in the Gazette Issue 35060 published on the 31 January 1941. Page 2 of 40 as follows :

"GEORGE R.I.

WHEREAS We have taken into Our Royal consideration the many acts of heroism performed both by male and female persons, especially during the present war:

And whereas We are desirous of honouring those who perform such deeds:

We do by these presents for Us, Our Heirs and Successors institute and create a new Decoration which We desire should be highly prized and eagerly sought after.

First: It is ordained that the Decoration shall be designated and styled "The George Cross".

Secondly: It is ordained that the Decoration shall consist of a plain cross with four equal limbs, the cross having in the centre a circular medallion bearing a design showing St. George and the Dragon, that the inscription "For Gallantry" shall appear round this medallion, and in the angle of each limb of the cross the Royal cypher "G.VI" forming a circle concentric with the medallion, that the reverse of the Cross shall be plain and bear the name of the recipient and the date of the award, that the Cross shall be suspended by a ring from a bar adorned with laurel leaves, and that the whole shall be in silver.

Thirdly: It is ordained that the persons eligible for the Decoration of the Cross shall be

(1) Our faithful subjects and persons under Our protection in civil life, male and female, of Our United Kingdom of Great Britain and Northern Ireland, India, Burma, Our Colonies, and of Territories under Our Suzerainty, Protection or Jurisdiction,

(2) Persons of any rank in the Naval, Military or Air Forces of Our United Kingdom of Great Britain and Northern Ireland, of India, of Burma, of Our Colonies, and of Territories under Our Suzerainty, Protection or Jurisdiction, including the Home Guard and in India members of Frontier Corps and Military Police and members of Indian States' Forces and in Burma members of the Burma Frontier Force and Military Police, and including also the military Nursing Services and Women's Auxiliary Services,

(3) Our faithful subjects and persons under Our protection in civil life, male and female, within, and members of the Naval, Military or Air Forces belonging to, any other part of Our Dominions, Our Government whereof has signified its desire that the Cross should be awarded under the provisions of this Our Warrant, and any Territory being administered by Us in such Government.

The Cross is intended primarily for civilians and award in Our military services is to be confined to actions for which purely military Honours are not normally granted.

Fourthly: It is ordained that awards shall be made only on a recommendation to Us, for civilians by Our Prime Minister and First Lord of the Treasury, and for Officers and members of Our Naval, Military or Air Forces, as described in the previous Clause of this Our Warrant, only on a recommendation by Our First Lord of the Admiralty, Our Secretary of State for War or Our Secretary of State for Air, as the case may be.

Fifthly: It is ordained that the Cross shall be awarded only for acts of the greatest heroism or of the most conspicuous courage in circumstances of extreme danger, and that the Cross may be awarded posthumously.

Sixthly: It is ordained that every recommendation for the award of the Cross shall be submitted with such description and conclusive proof as the circumstances of the case will allow, and attestation of the act as the Minister or Ministers concerned may think requisite.

Seventhly: It is ordained that the Cross shall be worn by recipients on the left breast suspended from a ribbon one and a quarter inches in width, of dark blue, that it shall be worn immediately after the Victoria Cross and in front of the Insignia of all British Orders of Chivalry, and that on those occasions when only the ribbon is worn, a replica in silver of the Cross in miniature shall be affixed to the centre of the ribbon.

Provided that when the Cross is worn by a woman, it may be worn on the left shoulder, suspended from a ribbon of the same width and colour, fashioned into a bow.

Eighthly: It is ordained that the award of the George Cross shall entitle the recipient on all occasions when the use of such letters is customary, to have placed after his or her names the letters "G.C.".

Ninthly: It is ordained that an action which is worthy of recognition by the award of the Cross, but is performed by one upon whom the Decoration has been conferred, may be recorded by the award of a Bar to be attached to the ribbon by which the Cross is suspended, that for each such additional award an additional Bar shall be added, and that for each Bar awarded a replica in silver of the Cross in miniature, in addition to the emblem already worn, shall be added to the ribbon when worn alone.

Tenthly: It is ordained that the names of all those upon or on account of whom We may be pleased to confer or present the Cross, or a Bar to the Cross, shall be published in the London Gazette, and that a Register of such names shall be kept in the Central Chancery of the Orders of Knighthood.

Eleventhly: It is ordained that from the date of this Our Warrant, the grant of the Medal of the Order of the British Empire, for Gallantry, which was instituted and created by His late Majesty King George the Fifth, shall cease, and a recipient of that Medal, living at the date of this Our Warrant, shall return it to the Central Chancery of the Orders of Knighthood and become instead a holder of the George Cross: provided that there shall be a similar change in relation to any posthumous grant of the Medal of the Order of the British Empire, for Gallantry, made since the commencement of the present war.

Twelfthly: It is ordained that reproductions of the Cross, known as a Miniature Cross, which may be worn on certain occasions by those to whom the Decoration is awarded shall be half the size of the George Cross.

Thirteenthly: It is ordained that it shall be competent for Us, our Heirs and Successors by an Order under Our Sign Manual and on a recommendation to that effect by or through Our Prime Minister and First Lord of the Treasury, Our First Lord of the Admiralty, Our Secretary of State for War, or Our Secretary of State for Air, as the case may be, to cancel and annul the award to any person of the George Cross and that thereupon the name of such person in the Register shall be erased: provided that it shall be competent for Us, Our Heirs and Successors to restore the Decoration so forfeited when such recommendation has been withdrawn.

Lastly: We reserve to Ourself, our Heirs Successors, full power of annulling, altering, abrogating, augmenting, interpreting, or dispensing with these rules and ordinances, or any part thereof, by a notification under Our Sign Manual.

Given at Our Court at St. James's, the twenty-fourth of September, one thousand nine hundred and forty, in the fourth year of Our Reign. .

By His Majesty's Command,

Winston S. Churchill."

By a Royal Warrant dated 8th May 1941, and published in the London Gazette of 24th June 1941, the 7th Clause was amended so that the width of the ribbon was now to be 1½ inches wide and not 1¼ inches as formerly.

There have been three further Royal Warrants. The first, dated 17th October 1942, and published in the London Gazette of 3rd November 1942, amended the 3rd, 4th and 13th Clauses so that condominium awards, and direct submissions in the case of any of the Dominions, were now permitted. The second, dated 9th April 1964 and published in the London Gazette of 26th May 1964, amended these same three Clauses. In Clause 3 the words "India" and "Burma" were omitted, and the words "or under Our Jurisdiction jointly with another power" were added. Also in the same Clause further references to India, Indian States and Burma were omitted. In Clause 4, recommendations in the case of a member of the Commonwealth, other than the United Kingdom, were to be made by the appropriate Minister of State for the particular Commonwealth country. And in Clause 13, provision was made for the cancelling and annulling of any award in Commonwealth countries, other than the United Kingdom, on the recommendation of the appropriate Minister of State of that country. The third, dated 19th May 1965, and published in the London Gazette of 15th June 1965, added the following Clauses :

"Fourteenthly : It is ordained that every living recipient of the George Cross, who falls to be in this matter a responsibility of the United Kingdom Government, shall from the first day of April, one thousand nine hundred and sixty-five, be entitled to a special pension of one hundred pounds a year, for life, and that subsequently such recipients of the George Cross shall be entitled to the special pension from the date of the act by which the Decoration has been gained, and for life.

Fifteenthly: It is ordained that should a recipient of the George Cross die before he has received a total of fifty pounds in respect of the special pension of one hundred pounds a year which is payable to holders of the George Cross by the United Kingdom Government, there should be credited to his estate a sum equal to the balance needed to complete fifty pounds. It is also ordained that when the George Cross is awarded posthumously and the matter is a responsibility of the United Kingdom Government, the sum of fifty pounds should be credited to the estate of the deceased recipient of the award*.

Sixteenthly: It is ordained that, subject to such exceptions as We, Our Heirs and Successors may ordain, a citizen of a Member Country of the Commonwealth Overseas to whom the George Cross may be awarded, shall receive such special pension as may be provided from the revenues of that Country under regulations made by the said Country."

 

Collective awards

There have been two collective awards. Those to Malta and the RUC — there is more information in the books and of course there is much literature on Malta during WWII.

Some Facts and Stats

Institution: The GC was instituted by Royal Warrant on the 24 September 1940

Design: The GC was designed by Mr Percy Metcalfe CVO RDI (1895-1970). He was also responsible for the crowned head of King George VI used on the George Medal and the 1939-45 War Medal.

Manufacture: The GC is made of silver and struck by the Royal Mint

Ribbon: The ribbon is 38mm wide and the colour is officially described as 'dark blue'

Suspension: By a straight silver bar, slotted for the ribbon, with a ring lug below. The front of the bar is ornamented with laurel leaves

Obverse: A central medallion showing St George and the Dragon surrounded by a circular band inscribed "For Gallantry" with the Royal cypher "GVI" across the angle between each limb of the cross. The central Saint George and the dragon scene is based on the work of Benedetto Pisttucci (1784-1855), and has appeared on several British coins.

Reverse: Blank with the recipient's title or rank, full name, and where appropriate, unit, are inscribed on the reverse of the cross together with the appropriate London Gazette date.

First Award: Mr Thomas Alderson, Detachment Leader, ARP, Bridlington, Yorkshire (London Gazette, 30 September 1940)

First Investiture: The first investiture of the GC took place on the 24 May 1941 at Buckingham Palace. Appropriately the recipients represented the three armed services as well as the civilian services. HM King George VI presented the decoration firstly to Mr. Thomas Alderson, to whom he said "You are the first recipient of the George Cross. It gives me very great pleasure to hand it to you."
The other recipients that day were Lt Cdr Robert Armitage of the RNVR, Maj Herbert Barefoot of the Corps of Royal Engineers and Wg Cdr Laurence Sinclair of the RAF.

First Overseas award: Lt John Patton, Corps of Royal Canadian Engineers for Bomb disposal work on the 21 September 1940, at Weybridge, Surrey. (LG, 17 December 1940)

Latest Award: Lc/Cpl Matthew Croucher

Youngest Direct Recipients: Mr John Bamford, 15 years and 7 months, Newthorpe, Nottinghamshire, 19 October 1952 (LG, 16 December 1952); Chris Finney 18, Miss Barbara Harrison, 22 years and 10 months, Heathrow, London, 8 April 1968 (LG, 8 August 1969)

Youngest Direct Overseas Recipient: Leading Aircraftman Karl Gravell, Royal Canadian Air Force, who was 19 years and one month when he was killed in his GC action in November 1941 (LG, 11 June 1942)

Youngest Indirect Recipients: Mr David Western, (Albert Medal) 10 years and 10 months, Osterley Park, London, 17 February 1948 (LG, 13 August 1948); Miss Doreen Ashburnham, (Albert Medal) 11 years and 4 months, Vancouver Island, Canada, 23 September 1916 (LG, 21 December 1917)

Oldest Direct Recipient: Lt. William Foster, Home Guard, 61 years, Salisbury, Wiltshire, 13 September 1942 (LG, 27 November 1942)

Oldest Direct Overseas Recipient: Mr. Errol Emanuel, District Commissioner, East New Britain District, Papua New Guinea, who was 52 years and eight months when he was killed in his GC action in August 1971 (LG, 1 February 1972)

Oldest Indirect Recipient: Capt. Alfred Morris, Mill Foreman, Ashanti, Gold Coast, 29 May 1923 (LG, 4 July 1924) was 90 years and 3 months old at the time of the AM & EM exchanges in 1971

Longest Lived Recipient: Cdr Alfred Newman, Royal Navy, 10 October 1917 (LG, 1 March 1918) was 96 years and 4 months old when he died on 1 September 1984

Longest Held Award: Capt. Frank Naughton, Royal Tank Corps, 5 August 1936 (LG, 1 February 1937) became a recipient of the GC in 1940 and died in 2004, therefore he held the decoration for 63 years. Interestingly Capt Naughton was not invested with the GC until 1947, therefore Col Stuart Archer (LG, 30 September 1941) has physically held the GC longer being invested in 1941.

Shortest Held Award: Plt Off Gerald Close, RAF, 13th April 1937 (LG, 21 December 1937) became a recipient of the GC through the EGM exchanges in September 1940. Sadly he was killed flying over France on the 9th May 1941; therefore he held the decoration for just seven months.

Earliest Direct Award: The earliest deed for which the GC was directly awarded took place on the 11 February 1940 at Immingham Dock, North Lincolnshire. The GC was awarded to Mr Leonard Harrison and Flt Lt John Dowland. (LG, 3 & 7 January 1941 respectively)

Earliest Indirect Award: The earliest act of gallantry for which the GC was indirectly awarded took place on the 27 November 1908 in a dry dock in Jarrow. Mr Thomas McCormack was subsequently awarded the Albert Medal. (LG, 23 July 1909)

Most GCs awarded for one incident: Ten GCs were indirectly awarded for rescue work in the aftermath of the earthquake in Quetta, Baluchistan, India on the 31st May 1935. Seven recipients of the Empire Gallantry Medal and three Albert Medallists became holders of the GC in 1940 and 1971 respectively.

First GC Approved by Queen Elizabeth II: Mr George Taylor, Vulcanologist, Papua New Guinea, 18 January 1951 (LG, 22 April 1952)

Second Awards: No second award or Bar to a GC has yet been awarded

Awards to Women: Women have always been eligible for the GC, and the following have received the direct award.

Lt Odette Sansom MBE (later Mrs Hallowes), Women's Transport Service (FANY) SOE, October 1942 to May 1945. She was the first to receive the award.

Ensign Violette Szabo, WTS (FANY) SOE, April 1944-February 1945

Assistant Section Officer Noor Inayat-Khan, WAAF/SOE, 16 June 1943 to 12 September 1944

Miss Barbara Harrison, Air Stewardess, BOAC, Heathrow Airport, 8 April 1968

The following awards were translated from the Empire Gallantry Medal in 1940.

Miss Emma Townsend, Attempted Rescue, Cottage Hospital, Kingsbridge, Devon, 6 September 1932

Miss Dorothy Thomas, Nursing Sister, Middlesex Hospital, London, 26 January 1934

Ashraf-un-Nisa (The Begum of Hydrabad), Hydrabad, 14 June 1935

Corporal (later Section Officer) Daphne Pearson, WAAF, Detling, Kent 31 May 1940

The following awards were translated from the Albert Medal in 1971.

Miss Hilda Wolsey, Nurse, Hanwell, London, 11 June 1910

Miss Doreen Ashburnham, (later Mrs Ashburnham-Ruffner), Schoolgirl, Vancouver Island, Canada, 23 September 1916

Miss Harriet Fraser, (later Mrs Barry), Staff Nurse TFNS, 31 January 1919

Miss Florence Allen, (later Mrs Allen), Nurse, Quetta, India 31 May 1935

Miss Margaret Vaughan, (later Mrs Purves), Schoolgirl, Sully Island, Glamorgan, 28 May 1949

Total GCs awarded including exchanges: The total number of awards to date is 406.

By direct award (Posthumous) 87
By direct award (Surviving) 75 (Includes Malta and the RUC)
Eligible Empire Gallantry Medallists 112 (Includes 4 Next-of-kin)
Eligible Albert Medallists 65 (Only 49 were actually exchanged)
Eligible Edward Medallists 68 (Only 59 were actually exchanged)

The distribution of these awards in terms of the recipients' affiliation, job or service is broadly as follows, These numbers do not add up to the total!

Military: Army (76), Naval Services (67), Air Force Services (41), Agents (6), POWs (13)

Civilian Services: Police, Prison, Fire, Civil Defence, RNLI and Other Rescue (36)

Civilian Workers: Miners(46), Railwaymen (7), Other workmen, nurses etc. (62)

Overseas awards: Australia (21), New Zealand (4), Canada (11), Other (32)

Awards of George Cross and George Medal: A total of eight people have been awarded both the GC and GM. Of these recipients, two have been awarded the GM twice.

Lt Cdr Robert Armitage, RNVR, Bomb disposal

Lt Cdr John Bridge GM and Bar, RNVR, Bomb disposal

Mr Richard Bywater The only civilian to have this rare distinction.

Cdr Ernest Gidden OBE, RNVR, Bomb disposal

Lt Cdr Leon Goldsworthy DSC, RANVR, Bomb disposal

Lt Cdr John Mould, RANVR, Bomb disposal

Lt Hugh Syme GM and Bar, RANVR, Bomb disposal

Cdr Geoffrey Turner, RNVR, Bomb disposal

Awards to brothers: There is one instance of the GC being awarded to brothers.

Messrs. David and Samuel Booker who were originally awarded the Edward Medal for rescue work in Littleton Colliery, South Staffordshire on the 14 May 1937.

There is one instance of the GC and VC being awarded to brothers.

Maj Hugh Seagrim DSO MBE, 19 Hyderabad Regiment, Indian Army and SOE, was awarded a posthumous GC for his work behind the Japanese lines in Burma, February 1943 to February 1944

Lt Col Derek Seagrim, 7th Battalion, The Howards was awarded a posthumous VC in North Africa, 20/21 March 1943

Annual annuity: There was no provision for the payment of any annuity contained in the original Warrant. However, from 4 February 1965 living holders of the GC were granted a tax-free annuity of £100. The figure remained unchanged until 15 August 1995 when it was raised to £1,300. This was further increased to £1,495 from 1 April 2002.

Additionally some Commonwealth Governments pay annuities to GC holders.

The Exchanges

Prior to the inception of the George Cross, several gallantry awards already existed for civilians which could also be given to servicemen and women for acts of great heroism performed in circumstances other than battle. These awards included the Empire Gallantry Medal, the Albert Medals for saving life on land and at sea and the Edward Medals for Mines and Industry, but none matched the distinction of the Victoria Cross. King George VI, with his advisors, decided to create a new decoration which would be equivalent in status with the VC.

The George Cross was instituted on 24th September 1940, whereupon the Empire Gallantry Medal ceased to be awarded. However, the Albert and Edward Medals continued to be awarded, but by the early 1970's it was acknowledged that there was little public appreciation of their importance. Indeed, no awards of the AM or EM to living recipients had been made since 1949. In 1971 it was announced that surviving holders of these decorations would have their awards translated to the GC. 65 holders of the AM and 68 holders of the EM were eligible to exchange their decoration for the George Cross.

In the case of exchanged EGMs, the George Cross is engraved on the reverse with the recipient's name and date of the London Gazette in which the original announcement was made. In the case of AMs and EMs, the GC is engraved with the recipient's name and the year of the action or actions for which the award was made.

 

Empire Gallantry Medal

Empire Gallantry Medal

The Empire Gallantry Medal, (officially called the Medal of the Order of the British Empire for Gallantry), was instituted on the 29th December 1922. It was designed by Langford Jones and the first recipient in the Civil Division was Park Keeper Albert Waterfield, (LG 1st Jan 1923). The first recipients in the Military Division were four soldiers of the Dorsetshire Regiment and a Surgeon of the Indian Medical Department, (LG 2nd June 1923).

The EGM was a circular silver medal, 36 millimetres in diameter, suspended by a straight clasp ornamented with laurel leaves with the recipient's name around the medal's rim. The obverse (outward facing side) had the seated figure of Britannia, her left hand resting on a shield and her right hand holding a trident. In the upper right corner was a blazing sun. The motto "For God and the Empire" was around the upper side of this face.

The first type of reverse had six lions on the surround and the royal cypher in the middle. The second type had four lions; two either side of the royal cipher and the inscription Instituted by King George V.

The EGM's ribbon was originally plain purple with an additional thin vertical red central stripe for military awards. In 1933 a silver laurel branch was diagonally affixed to the ribbon of both types of award. From July 1937 the ribbon changed to rose pink with pearl grey edges, with the addition of a pearl grey vertical central stripe for military awards. Recipients were now allowed to use the post-nominals ‘EGM’.

At the time of the introduction of the George Cross, 108 living recipients of the EGM were obliged to exchange their decoration for the GC. The next-of-kin of 4 further EGM recipients were also eligible to exchange the decoration for the GC, on account that these awards had been made after the 3rd September 1939. (The four foreign Honorary awardees were not eligible to exchange their EGMs and continued to wear them). The EGM then became obsolete after a short-lived but very wide circulation, as thirty per cent of awards went to the Indian sub-continent.

 

Albert Medal

Albert Medal

The Albert Medal (AM) was instituted on 7th March 1866, and was named after Queen Victoria's husband and consort Prince Albert who had died on 14th December 1861 at Windsor. A warrant issued in 1867 created two classes of AM: 1st and 2nd class. Ten years later, in 1877, a new warrant was made to allow the saving of life on land to be recognised by the award of the Albert Medal.

The AM was an oval medal, 57 millimetres high and 30 millimetres wide. The early issues were Gold and Bronze, the later issues were either Gold (1st class) or Bronze (2nd class). The AM's (Gold 1st class) ribbon was originally blue with two white stripes, but was changed to a wider blue ribbon with four white stripes. The AM 2nd class inherited the original 1st class ribbon size with two white stripes. In 1904 the 2nd class AM changed the ribbon size to that of the 1st class AM, while retaining the 2nd class two white stripes.

The AMs obverse consisted of a letter "V" (for Victoria) entwined with a letter "A" for Albert. AMs issued for gallantry at sea also have an anchor. The obverse has the words For Gallantry in Saving Life with At Sea or On Land added as appropriate. A further distinction is that the "Sea" medals have blue enamelling behind the royal monogram, while the "Land" medals have red.

In 1917 the title was altered producing the Albert Medal in gold (formerly the AM 1st Class) and the Albert Medal (formerly the 2nd class bronze medal).

In 1949 the Albert Medal in Gold was ‘replaced’ by the George Cross, although this was not regulated by a Royal Warrant. Thereafter, the Albert Medal was only posthumously awarded in Bronze. In 1971, the award of the Albert Medal ceased and living recipients were invited to exchange their decoration for the GC. However, 15 Albert Medallists decided not to exchange their original awards. It appears one person was overlooked, Ernest Wooding (LG 13th April 1945) was not informed until 1993. He too elected not to exchange his Albert Medal, though his entry now appears in the GC Register's latest supplement.

The use of the post-nominal initials AM was authorised in 1918. It appears to have been an administrative decisional as there was no Royal Warrant to that effect. Interestingly, when the Welsh Assembly was set up in 1998, the members started being called Assembly Members, and were permitted to use the post-nominal letters AM, hopefully not to be confused with Albert Medallists.

 

Edward Medal

There were two versions of the Edward Medal: Mines and Industry. In both cases, the medal was either a circular silver or bronze medal, 33 millimetres in diameter with a dark blue ribbon edged with yellow. Two recipients received a Bar but didn’t survive to exchange them for the GC..

 

Edward Medal (Mines)

Edward Medal (Mines)

The Edward Medal (Mines) was instituted on the 13th July 1907. It had the sovereign's profile on the obverse, while the reverse had a miner rescuing a stricken comrade, with the inscription "For Courage" across the top. The medal was designed by W. Reynolds-Stephens.

At the time of the 1971 exchanges, 2 Silver and 6 Bronze Edward Medal holders decided to retain their original decoration.

The EM (Mines) was intended to recognise life-saving in mines and quarries, with two grades of medal: 1st class (Silver) and 2nd class (Bronze). Unlike other awards, the cost of the medal was borne by a fund that was created by a group of philanthropists led by a leading mine owner called A. Hewlett. Both classes of medal were engraved with the recipient's name. Since 1930, the date and sometimes the place of the action have also been inscribed.

After 1949 the medal was only granted posthumously.

A Total of 77 Silver and 320 Bronze Edward Medal (Mines) were awarded.

 

Edward Medal (Industry)

Edward Medal (Industry)

The Edward Medal (Industry) was instituted on the 1st December 1909. It had the sovereign's profile on the obverse, while the reverse was originally a worker helping an injured workmate with a factory in the background and the words For Courage diagonally across the top. The reverse was designed by Kathleen Bruce. A second reverse design, by Gilbert Bayes, depicting a standing female figure with a laurel branch and factory skyline in the background, was introduced in 1912.

The EM (Industry) was awarded for acts of bravery in factory accidents and disasters. Like the EM (Mines) it also had two classes: 1st (Silver) and 2nd (Bronze). No 1st class medals were awarded after 1948. Since 1949 the medal was only granted posthumously. In 1971, 1 Silver Medal and 25 Bronze recipients of the Edward Medal (Industry) chose to exchange their EMs for the George Cross.

A Total of only 25 Silver and 164 Bronze Edward Medals (Industry) have been awarded. Two awards were made to women, the rarest gallantry award to a lady.

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