George Cross Awards to Essex People

http://commons.wikimedia.org/wiki/File:George_Cross.jpg

The George Cross was created on 24 September 1940 by King George V1 to provide a fitting tribute for the acts of heroism performed by Civilians in dealing with the blitz.

The medal was rated second only to the Victoria Cross .

A lesser medal called the George Medal was also instituted.

The existing Empire Gallantry Medal, Edward Medal and Albert Medal were discontinued with existing EGM's being exchanged for the new George Cross.

The medal is in the shape of a silver cross with George and the Dragon in the centre with the words FOR GALLANTRY.

Nine awards of a George Cross have been made to people who either lived in Essex or performed their heroic deed in Essex

Wilson Charles Geoffrey BALDWIN

Place of Birth

Date of Birth

Gazette reference

Dovercourt

9 April 1912

16 April 1943

Dr Wilson Baldwin was the assistant works manager of the Bramble Island Munition Factory which was a few miles from his Dovercourt home.

On 20 November 1942 a violent explosion occurred in a building in which explosives were being mixed and resulted in the immediate death of the two occupants of the building, the complete destruction of the building itself and considerable damage to adjacent buildings. In one of those, a nitrating house, a charge of 1,800 lbs of nitro glycerine was in the pre-wash tank, and in another the nitration was about half completed. Although the building became filled with fumes and steam, the operator and his assistant remained at their posts and took prompt steps to control the nitration and render the chemicals harmless. They were assisted by Dr Baldwin, who arrived at the scene shortly after the explosion. He noticed that about three square feet of wood above the pre wash tank was smoldering vigorously and throwing odd sparks. With the operators assistance Dr Baldwin extinguished this very dangerous outbreak.

National Archives reference HO 45/19319

 

Alfred Herbert LUNGLEY

Place of Birth

Date of Birth

Gazette reference

Colchester

20 October 1905

19 November 1935

Lance-Sergeant Alfred Lungley served with the 24th Mountain Brigade of the Royal Artillery in India.

On 31 May 1935 there was a serious earthquake in Quetta, India near to the base of the 24th Mountain Brigade who assisted in rescue efforts.

Alfred Lungley was called to a house that had collapsed trapping a man under the debris. He burrowed through the debris to reach an rescue the man despite a serious leg injury and the constant danger of the tunnel collapsing.

After the war Alfred married and moved to Norwich where he died in 1989

The initial award was an EGM ( Empire Gallantry Medal) but was exchanged in 1940 for the George Cross

 

 

Joseph Edward MOTT

Place of Birth

Date of Birth

Gazette reference

Basildon

25 February 1913

30 March 1938

Joseph Mott was a Private 6009084 with the 1st Battalion , Essex Regiment serving in the Middle East.

On 25 December 1937 a bomb was thrown into a  cafe in Haifa which was crowded with soldiers and civilians. The bomb fell at the feet of Private Mott who was seated at a table with other men from his Battalion . With the utmost coolness and presence of mind he picked it up and hurled it through the window just before it exploded with great violence.

The initial award was an EGM ( Empire Gallantry Medal) but was exchanged in 1940 for the George Cross

 

 

Leo Francis O'HAGAN

Place of Birth

Date of Birth

Gazette reference

 

6 February 1940

6 February 1940

Leo O'Hagan and Stanley Sewell ( See below entry) were both employed as explosives workers, known as Hillmen, at the Royal Gunpowder Factory at Waltham Abbey.

On 18 January 1940 an explosion occurred at the factory during which Leo O'Hagan and Stanley Sewell were engaged on the nitration of glycerine, the most critical stage in the process of manufacture when the liability to detonation is greatest. The building in which the process was carried out was only 150 yards from the scene of the explosion and was also damaged. Over 1,00 lbs of nitro glycerine was under process and in a condition of instability.

Leo O'Hagan and Stanley Sewell realising the damage to life and property which would be caused by a further explosion, stood by their posts for some two hours, until the services were restored and then calmly continued with their work until the whole charge had been brought to a state of stability.

William George Sylvester was working in a nearby hut during the same incident

Mr Burgin, Minister of Supply commended the men -  By their courage, discipline and determination these three men unquestionably prevented the explosion from spreading and saved alike buildings with vital supplies and their lives of their fellow workers.

The initial award was an EGM ( Empire Gallantry Medal) but was exchanged in 1940 for the George Cross

 

George LOCKE

Place of Birth

Date of Birth

Gazette reference

-

-

2 March 1926

George Locke  was a leading hand employed by the firm of Dorman,Long & Co.

On 8 October 1925 he and a workmate called Frederick Dowser were erecting steel work as part of the rebuilding of Bourne& Hollingsworth in Oxford Street, London.

AS they were working on narrow 7" steel girders on the fourth floor of the building Frederick Dowser fell and hitting his head on the girder was stunned.

George Locke then jumped from his girder to Dowset's Girder which was a distance of 7 feet and held onto Dowser until help arrived and Dowser could be carried to safety.

Without his brave jump there is little doubt that Dowser would have fallen from the girder to his death.

George Locke is believed to have died in Dovercourt Essex in 1974.

The initial award was an Edward Medal but was exchanged in 1940 for the George Cross

 

 

Stanley William SEWELL

Place of Birth

Date of Birth

Gazette reference

Enfield, Middlesex

16 December 1906

6 February 1940

Leo O'Hagan and Stanley Sewell ( See below entry) were both employed as explosives workers, known as Hillmen, at the Royal Gunpowder Factory at Waltham Abbey.

On 18 January 1940 an explosion occurred at the factory during which Leo O'Hagan and Stanley Sewell were engaged on the nitration of glycerine, the most critical stage in the process of manufacture when the liability to detonation is greatest. The building in which the process was carried out was only 150 yards from the scene of the explosion and was also damaged. Over 1,00 lbs of nitro glycerine was under process and in a condition of instability.

Leo O'Hagan and Stanley Sewell realising the damage to life and property which would be caused by a further explosion, stood by their posts for some two hours, until the services were restored and then calmly continued with their work until the whole charge had been brought to a state of stability.

William George Sylvester was working in a nearby hut during the same incident

Mr Burgin, Minister of Supply commended the men -  By their courage, discipline and determination these three men unquestionably prevented the explosion from spreading and saved alike buildings with vital supplies and their lives of their fellow workers.

Stanley Sewell's George Cross was sold by auction in 1995

The initial award was an EGM ( Empire Gallantry Medal) but was exchanged in 1940 for the George Cross

 

Laurence Frank SINCLAIR

Place of Birth

Date of Birth

Gazette reference

Frinton on Sea

23 October 1908

21 January 1941

Wing Commander Laurence Sinclair served with 110 Squadron, RAF.

Wing Commander Sinclair was sitting in the Officers Mess at RAF Wattisham when a loaded bomber crashed on take off. Two bombs on the aircraft exploded and it burst into flames. Despite the flames and the possibility of other bombs on the plane exploding Wing Commander Sinclair entered the plane and brought out  a badly injured rear gunner.

Sinclair remained in the RAF until 1966 retiring with the rank of Air Vice Marshall.

He received the George Cross personally from King George at Buckingham Palace on 21 May 1941

Sinclair died at Shipton-under-Wychwood, Oxfordshire on 14 May 2002.

 

 

William George SYLVESTER

Place of Birth

Date of Birth

Gazette reference

Romford

6 December 1914

6 February 1940

William Sylvester was employed as a munitions worker at the Royal Gunpowder factory at Waltham Abbey.

On 18 January 1940 an explosion occurred  while William Sylvester was working on the purification of nitro glycerine. His building was only 100 yards away from the explosion and suffered considerable damage including half of the roof being blown away. Hot water and air both important to the process were not available. William Sylvester continued to work in stabilising the chemicals despite being aware of the possibility of freezing and detonation at any time.

Leo O'Hagan and Stanley Sewell working in a nearby hut during the same incident

Mr Burgin, Minister of Supply commended the men -  By their courage, discipline and determination these three men unquestionably prevented the explosion from spreading and saved alike buildings with vital supplies and their lives of their fellow workers.

The initial award was an EGM ( Empire Gallantry Medal) but was exchanged in 1940 for the George Cross

 

Dorothy Louise THOMAS

Place of Birth

Date of Birth

Gazette reference

11 August 1905

East London

 

Dorothy entered nursing as one of the first nurses to work at the new Dovercourt Hospital.

She later transferred to the Middlesex Hospital as a theatre sister.

On 26 January 1934 she was working in the theatre when  an oxygen cylinder caught fire and appeared likely to explode.

Sister Thomas evacuated the staff from the Theatre and then returned to turn off the oxygen cylinder which she managed to do thus prevention and explosion and the theatre being rendered unusable for some time.

Dorothy retired and died at Chelmsford on 22 November 1989.

The initial award was an EGM ( Empire Gallantry Medal) but was exchanged in 1940 for the George Cross

 

Geoffrey Gledhill TURNER

Place of Birth

Date of Birth

Gazette reference

Sheffield

10 September 1903

27 June 1941

Sub Lt Geoffrey Turner served as a bomb disposal officer in the Royal Naval Volunteer Reserve

Geoffrey Turned received the award for a series of brave bomb disposal acts during December 1940 in North West England .

The final act was in dealing with a damaged but unexploded bomb that was blocking the main railway line between Liverpool and Southport.

As he tried to defuse the bomb the detonation unit began to tick  at which point Geoffrey Turner retreated expecting the bomb to detonate.

After 5 minutes the bomb had not detonated so he decided to return and try again even though he knew that the bomb may explode at any time.

As soon as he started to work on the bomb it detonated. He was badly wounded but survived the explosion.

After recovering from his wound he enlisted with the Commandos and played a full role with the commandos during the rest of the war.

He was one of the few people to be awarded both the George Cross and the George Medal

He died at Stambourne , Essex on 9 February 1959

 

 

 

 

 

Google
 
Web

www.essex-family-history.co.uk