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The George Cross


The George Cross

 

When was the George Cross instituted?
The George Cross was instituted by Royal Warrant on the 24 September 1940.

King George VI had been greatly moved by the fortitude and courage displayed by many civilians and by those engaged in bomb and mine disposal duties during the Blitz, and wanted these outstanding acts of bravery to be suitably recognised. Several awards already existed for which civilians were eligible and 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. The King, with his advisors, decided to create a new decoration which would be equivalent in status with the VC.

The Empire Gallantry Medal was abolished and surviving holders, together with those who had been awarded it posthumously since the outbreak of war, had their medals exchanged for the George Cross. Awards of the Albert and Edwards Medals continued, but by the early 1970's it was acknowledged that there was little public appreciation of their importance. No further awards were made, and in 1971 it was announced that surviving holders of these medals would have their awards translated to the George Cross.

Who designed the GC?
The George Cross was designed by Percy Metcalfe, CVO, RDI.

Who makes the GC?
The GC is made by the Royal Mint.

What is the GC made of?
The GC is made of silver.

What is the colour of the GC ribbon?
The colour of the ribbon is officially described as 'Garter' blue.

What is the inscription on the obverse of the GC?
For Gallantry

How is the reverse inscribed?
The recipient's title, full name, rank and, where appropriate, unit, are inscribed on the reverse of the cross together with the date. The date inscribed on the GC is the date of the award and not the date, or dates, of the deed

The First GC Mr T H Alderson, GC Bridlington, Yorks

The First GC Mr T H Alderson, GC Bridlington, Yorks

Who was awarded the first GC?
Mr T H Alderson, Detachment Leader, ARP, Bridlington, Yorks, September 1940.

Who is the most recent GC recipient?
The most recent recipient of the GC is Captain Peter Norton, The Royal Logistic Corps. The award of his George Cross for outstanding bravery during operations in Iraq in which took place between April and July 2005, was announced in the Supplement to The London Gazette  of Thursday 23 March 2006. Trooper Christopher Finney, The Blues and Royals, was also awarded the George Cross, for bravery in saving a comrade during the Iraq War in March 2003. Trooper ( now Lance Corporal ) Finney's award was announced in the Supplement to The London Gazette  of 30 October 2003.

Who was the youngest GC by direct award?
Mr John Bamford, 15 years and 7 months, Nottingham, 19 October 1952

Mrs Odette Sansom GC, MBE (later Mrs Hallowes) WTS (FANY), French Section, SOE

Mrs Odette Sansom GC, MBE (later Mrs Hallowes) WTS (FANY), French Section, SOE

Are women eligible for the George Cross?
Women have always been eligible for the George Cross, and the following have received the award:

By direct award:

Awards translated from the Empire Gallantry Medal in 1940:

Awards translated from the Albert Medal in 1971:

How many GCs have been awarded?
The total number of awards to date is 400

How many GC's have been awarded since 1946?
Since 1946 there have been 46 direct awards of the GC, 30 of them posthumously, eight awards of the AM and eleven awards of the EM. The latter awards were translated to the GC on 21 October 1971

How many civilians have been awarded the GC?
Of the 156 direct awards of the GC, 51 have gone to civilians

Have brothers ever been awarded the GC?
There is one instance of the EM (translated into the GC) being awarded to brothers:

Have members of the same family ever been awarded both the GC and the VC?
There is one instance of the GC and VC being awarded to brothers:
Major H P Seagrim, DSO MBE, 19 Hyderabad Regiment and SOE, was awarded a posthumous GC behind the Japanese lines in Burma, 2 September 1944
Lieutenant Colonel D A Seagrim, 7 Bn, The Green Howards was awarded a posthumous VC in North Africa, 20/21 March 1943

Lt Col D A Seagrim VC 7 Bn, The Green Howards

Lt Col D A Seagrim VC 7 Bn, The Green Howards

Major H P Seagrim GC, DSO, MBE, 19 Hyderabad Regiment & SOE

Major H P Seagrim GC, DSO, MBE, 19 Hyderabad Regiment & SOE

Is there an annuity paid to recipients of the GC?
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 at £100 until 15 August 1995 when it was raised to £1300.

The medals of Lieutenant Robert Davies GC, Royal Engineers (Trustees of the Imperial War Museum, London)

The medals of Lieutenant Robert Davies GC, Royal Engineers (Trustees of the Imperial War Museum, London)

The Imperial War Museum has a very fine collection of Victoria Crosses and George Crosses. The new permanent gallery devoted to displaying these medals was opened in May 1997. In addition to all the VCs and GCs in the Museum's collections, the display includes much interesting personal material belonging to the Museum relating to several recipients of these two awards whose medals are held in other collections.