Eight people have been awarded both the George Cross and George Medal gallantry awards. Of these eight people, two have been awarded the George Cross and two George Medals.
|Robert Selby Armitage
|Richard Arthur Samuel Bywater
|Ernest Oliver Gidden
|Leon Verdi Goldsworthy
|John Stuart Mould
|Hugh Randall Syme*
|Geoffrey Gledhill Turner
LIEUTENANT ROBERT SELBY ARMITAGE
Temporary Lieutenant (later Lieutenant-Commander) Armitage was a member of the Royal Naval Volunteer Reserve. He was born at Birling, Kent, on 28 March 1910.
Lieutenant Armitage did a great deal of very dangerous work in disabling land mines in September and October 1940, accepting great risks in the course of his duty. One of the mines he dealt with was hanging from a tree at Orpington (Kent), and could only be reached from a ladder which offered no chance of escape if the fuse had been activated. On another occasion he heard the clock ticking and was only 30 yards away when the bomb exploded. In spite of this he returned with undaunted bravery to carry on with the same work next day.
Lieutenant Armitage’s award of the George Cross was published in the London Gazette on 27 December 1940.
Robert Selby Armitage’s George Medal was awarded whilst he was a Temporary Lieutenant-Commander with HMS Vernon. It was awarded mine disposal work at Corton Sands, Suffolk, on 15 June 1942. His award of the George Medal was published on page 789 of the London Gazette dated 15 February 1944.
Robert Selby Armitage died on 1 June 1982 at Nettlebed, Oxfordshire.
LIEUTENANT JOHN BRIDGE
John Bridge’s first George Medal was awarded for bomb disposal work at Devonport (Devon) on 7 September 1940. This award was published on page 7279 of the London Gazette dated 27 December 1940. At this time, John Bridge was a Temporary Lieutenant RNVR, assigned as a Bomb Safety Office at Plymouth.
John Bridge’s second award of the George Medal (worn as a bar across the ribbon of his first George Medal), was awarded for bomb disposal work at Graving Docks, Falmouth, Cornwell on 17 May 1941. This second award was published on page 6235 of the London Gazette dated 28 October 1941. At this time, John Bridge was a Temporary Lieutenant RNVR, assigned as a Bomb Safety Office at Plymouth.
At the time of his George Cross award, Temporary Lieutenant (later Lieutenant-Commander) John Bridge was a member of the Royal Naval Volunteer Reserve.
In August 1943 Messina Harbour (Italy), needed to be cleared of depth charges. All the members of a bomb disposal party had been killed or wounded by six of these charges when Lieutenant Bridge took over the operation with the great enthusiasm, combined with skill and ingenuity. After a total of 28 dives they were all cleared, including two which were recovered with their previously unknown mechanisms intact. In addition, Lieutenant Bridge rendered safe or discredited a further 207 depth charges, above or below water, with all types of firing mechanisms. As a result of the efforts of this officer and his party Messina Harbour was declared open the day before the Allied assault on the Italian mainland, which proved to be of the utmost value during the follow-up operations.
RICHARD ARTHUR SAMUEL BYWATER
Mr. Bywater was born in Birmingham on 3 November 1913. At the time of his George Cross award, Mr. Bywater was a Factory Development Officer, Ministry of Supply.
On 22 February 1944 at one of the factory buildings belonging to the Ministry of Supply at Kirkby near Liverpool, 19 people, mostly women, were at work on the last stage of filling fuses; each person had before themselves on a bench a tray of 25 fuses.
The fuses were stacked on portable tables each holding 40 trays and there were over 12,000 fuses in the building. At 8.30am that morning one fuse detonated, immediately involving the whole tray. The woman working on that tray was instantly killed, and two standing behind her, though shielded by the woman in front, were both injured, one later dying of her injuries. The factory itself was badly damaged. The Superintendent was quickly on the spot with Mr. Bywater, and they realised that the damaged fuses might cause a huge explosion. The explosion that occurred had apparently been caused by a defective striker in the fuse and it was obvious that the same defect might be present in some of the other fuses.
Mr. Bywater volunteered to remove all the fuses to a place of safety and he, with three other volunteers, worked for almost 3 days removing 12,724 fuses from the wrecked building, including a further 4,000 fuses suspected of being defective. It was the inspiration of his leadership which enabled this dangerous assignment to be concluded successfully.
The award of the Mr. Bywater’s George Cross was published in the London Gazette on 26 September 1944.
Mr. Bywater’s George Medal was awarded for his work in clearing the scene and making the area safe after an explosion at a Royal Ordnance Factory at Kirkby in a period after 15 September 1944. His George Medal award was published on page 4633 of the London Gazette dated 18 September 1945.
LIEUTENANT ERNEST OLIVER GIDDEN
Sub-Lieutenant Gidden’s George Medal was awarded for disposing of a mine that had landed between two houses in Harlesden, London, during the period July to September 1940. The award was published on page 259 of the London Gazette dated 14 January 1941.
On 17 April 1941 an unexploded mine dropped on Hungerford Bridge, London. Some trains and many sleepers were on fire and the Charing Cross Hotel was burning in the background. The underground trains had to be stopped and many buildings evacuated, including the War Office. Lieutenant Gidden (RNVR) arrived at the bridge shortly after dawn and found the mine lying across a live electric wire, with the bomb fuse primer release mechanism face downwards. The bomb had first to be turned over before the fuse could be tackled. At last Lieutenant Gidden managed to turn the bomb over, and tried to insert a gag to stop the timer mechanism. The gag would not fit properly due to the state of the mine’s outer casing, and Lieutenant Gidden had to work at it with a hammer and chisel. This operation was eventually completed after 6 hours.
LIEUTENANT LEON VERDI GOLDSWORTHY
Lieutenant Goldsworthy’s George Medal was awarded for mine disposal underwater on two separate occasions. The first was at Coal Barge Wharf, Southampton, during August-September 1943. The second occasion was at Tate & Lyle’s Wharf, Silvertown, London, on 7 October 1943. The award of the George Medal was published on page 1775 of the London Gazette dated 18 April 1944.
Lieutenant Goldsworthy RANVR was an expert in mine disposal and was awarded the George Cross for his skill and courage during a series of underwater mine recoveries during the period June 1943 to April 1944. These included four German ground mines, three magnetic mines and one acoustic mine. On 13 August 1943 he made safe a German ground mine off the coast of Sheerness (Kent). This was only the second time that such a weapon had been successfully defused under water, with no escape for Lieutenant Goldworthy should the fuse start. On 10 April 1944, Lieutenant Goldsworthy dealt with a dangerous acoustic mine near Milford Haven (Wales), successfully extracting the fuse and primer, later removing the whole mine intact.
The award of Lieutenant Goldsworthy’s George Cross was published in the London Gazette dated 19 September 1944.
LIEUTENANT JOHN STUART MOULD
Lieutenant Mould RANVR joined HMS Vernon for enemy mining work in March 1941.
Lieutenant Mould’s George Medal was awarded for mine disposal work on several occasions. In particular mine disposal work at the following locations during April and May 1941: Shellhaven (Essex), Hamble River (Hampshire), London Docks, Liverpool Docks, Barrow-in-Furness, Pembroke (Wales), Belfast and Stepney (London).
Lieutenant Mould’s award of the George Medal was published on page 1849 of the London Gazette dated 28 April 1942.
The work which resulted in his award of the George Cross was in the period 14 November 1941 to 30 June 1942 and included the successful handling of a wide range of disposal and clearance problems. For many of these he devised ingenious and unique solutions. A particular dangerous phase was the stripping of the first magnetic-acoustic mine which had been fitted with anti-handling devices, and had killed several other disposal officers.
Lieutenant Mould’s award of the George Cross was published in the London Gazette dated 3 November 1942.
LIEUTENANT HUGH RANDALL SYME
Lieutenant Hugh Randall Syme was a member of the Royal Australian Naval Volunteer Reserve at the time of the award of both his George Medals and George Cross awards. He was a member of the Enemy Mining Section of HMS Vernon.
Lieutenant Syme’s first George Medal was awarded for mine disposal on land, at Manchester during December 1940. The award was published on page 3651 of the London Gazette published on 27 June 1941.
Lieutenant Syme’s second (bar to his first) George Medal was awarded for mine disposal on land, near a gunsite and reservoir on Primrose Hill, St. John’s Wood, London, on 20 April 1941. The award was published on page 2547 of the London Gazette published on 9 June 1942.
Lieutenant Syme’s George Cross was awarded for his 21 months of service in the Enemy Mining Section of HMS Vernon. During this time, Lieutenant Syme carried out 19 mine recovery operations. He was also responsible of the first and only type of T Sinker. Much importance was attached to his work on this mine when he located and recovered it intact, together with its sinker in November 1942. On that occasion, after removing the mine from the drifter Noontide, he had to insulate the detonator wires without earthing the weapon. This resulted in many electrical shocks to him and he also had to operate up to his knees in mud, with no chance of escape should the mine explode.
The award of the George Cross to Lieutenant Syme was published in the London Gazette on 3 August 1943.
Hugh Randall Syme died on 7 November 1965 in Melborne, Australia.
SUB-LIEUTENANT GEOFFREY GLEDHILL TURNER
Sub-Lieutenant (later Commander) Turner was a member of the RNVR.
Sub-Lieutenant Tuner was called to deal with many unexploded mines in the early part of the Blitz. One fell near the LMS Station at Sheffield, closing the station. On 21 December 1940 another fell in the wool factory, Great Howard Street, Liverpool and was partly suspended by its parachute, with its nose on the ground floor and the bomb-fuse hidden. Great case had to be taken in the handling of this mine which weighed nearly a ton. Sub-Lieutenant was successful in removing the fuses of both these mines before they could explode.
He had more difficulty with one which fell in Seaforth, about 150 yards from the main Liverpool-Southport line and was almost completely buried in the small yard of a house in Cambridge Street. The mine was badly damaged and it was essential that it should be cleared as soon as possible. Sub-Lieutenant Turner rigged a wire and moved the mine so as to expose the fuse and enable the gag to be fitted. However, the fuse was damaged and only the top half came away, leaving the clockwork and operating mechanism in the mine. He then tried to pick out the remains of the fuse with his fingers. He had almost managed this when the mine’s timer mechanism started to operate, and Sub-Lieutenant Turner quickly retreated.
When there was no explosion he waited for a few minutes and then returned to the mine, to complete the disposal work, not knowing how much time was left before the mine would explode. As soon as Sub-Lieutenant Turner touched the parts of the mechanism still left in the mine, the timer mechanism started again. Almost at once the mine exploded.
Sub-Lieutenant Turner was wounded and severely shocked, but had somehow survived the explosion.
The award of Sub-Lieutenant Turner’s George Cross was published in the London Gazette dated 27 June 1941.
Temporary Lieutenant Turner was awarded the George Medal for his gallantry in mine recovery from a smouldering enemy plane which had crashed at Fairlight, near Hastings, Sussex. The mine disposal happened on 4-5 January 1943. The award of this George Medal was published on page 2215 of the London Gazette dated 18 May 1943.