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?
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
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
By direct award:
- Lieutenant O M C Sansom (later Mrs Hallowes), MBE, Women's Transport Service (FANY) Special Operations Executive, October 1942-May 1945
- Ensign V R E Szabo, WTS (FANY) SOE, April 1944-February 1945
- Assistant Section Officer N Inayat-Khan, Women's Auxiliary Air Force/SOE, 16 June 1943-12 September 1944
- Miss B J Harrison, Air Stewardess, British Overseas Airway Corporation, Heathrow Airport, 8 April 1968
Awards translated from the Empire Gallantry Medal in 1940:
- Miss D L Thomas (EGM), Nursing Sister, Middlesex Hospital, London, 26 January 1934.
- The Begum of Hydrabad (EGM), Hydrabad, 14 June 1935.
- Corporal (later Section Officer) J D M Pearson, (EGM) WAAF, Detling, Kent 31 May 1940.
Awards translated from the Albert Medal in 1971:
- Miss H E Wolsey (AM), Nurse, Hanwell, London, 11 June 1910
- Miss D Ashburnham (AM), Schoolgirl, Vancouver Island, Canada, 23 September 1916
- Miss F A Allen (AM), Nurse, Quetta, India 31 May 1935
- Miss M Purves (AM), (later Mrs Vaughan), Schoolgirl, Sully Island, Glamorgan, 28 May 1949
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
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 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.