George Medal
Overview
 
The George Medal is the second level civil decoration
Civil decoration
A civil decoration is a decoration awarded to civilians for distinguished service. Military personnel might also be eligible for services of a non-military nature...

 of the United Kingdom
United Kingdom
The United Kingdom of Great Britain and Northern IrelandIn the United Kingdom and Dependencies, other languages have been officially recognised as legitimate autochthonous languages under the European Charter for Regional or Minority Languages...

 and Commonwealth
Commonwealth of Nations
The Commonwealth of Nations, normally referred to as the Commonwealth and formerly known as the British Commonwealth, is an intergovernmental organisation of fifty-four independent member states...

.

The GM was instituted on 24 September 1940 by King George VI
George VI of the United Kingdom
George VI was King of the United Kingdom and the Dominions of the British Commonwealth from 11 December 1936 until his death...

. At this time, during the height of The Blitz
The Blitz
The Blitz was the sustained strategic bombing of Britain by Nazi Germany between 7 September 1940 and 10 May 1941, during the Second World War. The city of London was bombed by the Luftwaffe for 76 consecutive nights and many towns and cities across the country followed...

, there was a strong desire to reward the many acts of civilian courage. The existing awards open to civilians were not judged suitable to meet the new situation, therefore it was decided that the George Cross
George Cross
The George Cross is the highest civil decoration of the United Kingdom, and also holds, or has held, that status in many of the other countries of the Commonwealth of Nations...

 and the GM would be instituted to recognise both civilian gallantry in the face of enemy action and brave deeds more generally.

Announcing the new award, 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.
Encyclopedia
The George Medal is the second level civil decoration
Civil decoration
A civil decoration is a decoration awarded to civilians for distinguished service. Military personnel might also be eligible for services of a non-military nature...

 of the United Kingdom
United Kingdom
The United Kingdom of Great Britain and Northern IrelandIn the United Kingdom and Dependencies, other languages have been officially recognised as legitimate autochthonous languages under the European Charter for Regional or Minority Languages...

 and Commonwealth
Commonwealth of Nations
The Commonwealth of Nations, normally referred to as the Commonwealth and formerly known as the British Commonwealth, is an intergovernmental organisation of fifty-four independent member states...

.

The GM was instituted on 24 September 1940 by King George VI
George VI of the United Kingdom
George VI was King of the United Kingdom and the Dominions of the British Commonwealth from 11 December 1936 until his death...

. At this time, during the height of The Blitz
The Blitz
The Blitz was the sustained strategic bombing of Britain by Nazi Germany between 7 September 1940 and 10 May 1941, during the Second World War. The city of London was bombed by the Luftwaffe for 76 consecutive nights and many towns and cities across the country followed...

, there was a strong desire to reward the many acts of civilian courage. The existing awards open to civilians were not judged suitable to meet the new situation, therefore it was decided that the George Cross
George Cross
The George Cross is the highest civil decoration of the United Kingdom, and also holds, or has held, that status in many of the other countries of the Commonwealth of Nations...

 and the GM would be instituted to recognise both civilian gallantry in the face of enemy action and brave deeds more generally.

Announcing the new award, 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
George Cross
The George Cross is the highest civil decoration of the United Kingdom, and also holds, or has held, that status in many of the other countries of the Commonwealth of Nations...

, which will rank next to the Victoria Cross
Victoria Cross
The Victoria Cross is the highest military decoration awarded for valour "in the face of the enemy" to members of the armed forces of various Commonwealth countries, and previous British Empire territories....

, and the George Medal for wider distribution."


The Warrant for the GM (along with that of the GC), dated 24 January 1941, was published in the London Gazette
London Gazette
The London Gazette is one of the official journals of record of the British government, and the most important among such official journals in the United Kingdom, in which certain statutory notices are required to be published...

on 31 January 1941.

The medal is granted in recognition of "acts of great bravery." The GM was originally not issued posthumously, but the warrant was amended in 1977 to allow posthumous awards, several of which have been subsequently made.

The medal is primarily a civilian award, but it may be awarded to military personnel for gallant conduct that is not in the face of the enemy. As the Warrant states:
The Medal 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.


Bars are awarded to the GM in recognition of the performance of further acts of bravery meriting the award. In undress uniform or on occasions when the medal ribbon alone is worn, a silver rosette is worn on the ribbon to indicate each bar. Recipients are entitled to the postnominal letters GM.

The details of all awards to British and Commonwealth recipients are published in the London Gazette.

Description

  • The GM is a circular silver medal. The obverse depicts the crowned effigy of the reigning monarch and a legend.
  • The reverse shows St. George
    Saint George
    Saint George was, according to tradition, a Roman soldier from Syria Palaestina and a priest in the Guard of Diocletian, who is venerated as a Christian martyr. In hagiography Saint George is one of the most venerated saints in the Catholic , Anglican, Eastern Orthodox, and the Oriental Orthodox...

     on horseback slaying the dragon
    Saint George and the Dragon
    The episode of Saint George and the Dragon appended to the hagiography of Saint George was Eastern in origin, brought back with the Crusaders and retold with the courtly appurtenances belonging to the genre of Romance...

     on the coast of England
    England
    England is a country that is part of the United Kingdom. It shares land borders with Scotland to the north and Wales to the west; the Irish Sea is to the north west, the Celtic Sea to the south west, with the North Sea to the east and the English Channel to the south separating it from continental...

    , with the legend THE GEORGE MEDAL around the top edge of the medal.
  • The ribbon is red with five equally spaced thin blue stripes. The blue colour is taken from the George Cross
    George Cross
    The George Cross is the highest civil decoration of the United Kingdom, and also holds, or has held, that status in many of the other countries of the Commonwealth of Nations...

     ribbon.

Ribbon bars of the George Medal

GM

GM and Bar

Recipients

  • The first award of the GM was to Patrick King of Shiremoor
    Shiremoor
    Shiremoor is a large village in the Metropolitian Borough of North Tyneside. It is located approximately inland of Whitley Bay and approximately north of The Tyne Tunnel. A mile or so north of Shiremoor, the extensive built-up areas of North Tyneside change abruptly into green belt stretching...

    , Northumberland. King was an air-raid warden and on 26 August 1940 he rescued a blind woman from a house during an air-raid.
  • Captain R.T.Payne - Kept crew alive for eight days on three biscuits and a dipper of water a day in a lifeboat, and "sailed" 650 miles to the west coast of Ireland when the SS Marina was torpedoed on 17th Sept. 1940.
  • Geoffrey Hodges, RNVR. Bomb disposal.

Sybil Kathigasu
Sybil Kathigasu
Sybil Kathigasu GM was a Eurasian Malayan nurse who supported the resistance during the Japanese occupation of Malaya. She is the only Malayan woman to be ever awarded with the George Medal for bravery.-Background:...

 - Malayan
British Malaya
British Malaya loosely described a set of states on the Malay Peninsula and the Island of Singapore that were brought under British control between the 18th and the 20th centuries...

 nurse who supported the resistance during the Japanese occupation of Malaya. She is the only Malayan woman to be ever awarded with the George Medal for bravery. (World War II)
  • George Roberts - Railwayman, in recognition of the leading part that he played in the Liverpool May Blitz
  • John A. Sinclair - Royal Air Force Gunner who twice re-entered a fully fuelled Wellington bomber that crashed and burst into flames on take off to rescue two Polish airmen trapped inside (World War II)
  • Hilton Alomes - Tasmania
    Tasmania
    Tasmania is an Australian island and state. It is south of the continent, separated by Bass Strait. The state includes the island of Tasmania—the 26th largest island in the world—and the surrounding islands. The state has a population of 507,626 , of whom almost half reside in the greater Hobart...

    n police inspector who rescued two people from a flood (1960)
  • Porter C Jarrell-Private Royal Army Medical Corps who was awarded the medal in 1944 "in recognition for carrying out hazardous work in a very brave manner in the field"
  • John Bridge
    John Bridge
    Lieutenant Commander John Bridge GC, GM & bar was a British bomb disposal expert of the Royal Navy Volunteer Reserve during the Second World War...

     - Bomb disposal expert in the Royal Navy Volunteer Reserve (World War II)
  • George Graham Layton - rescued an airman from a fiercely burning aircraft with bombs still on board, stripped him of his burning clothes wrapped his own shirt around the airman and assisted him to the fire tender just before the aircraft exploded (World War II)
  • Arthur Cobby - Royal Australian Air Force pilot (World War II)
  • Lionel "Buster" Crabb
    Lionel Crabb
    Lionel "Buster" Crabb OBE, GM was a British Royal Navy frogman and MI6 diver who vanished during a reconnaissance mission around a Soviet cruiser in 1956.-Early life:...

     - Royal Navy frogman (World War II)
  • John Edward Dillon - Able Seaman on HMS Ardent
    HMS Ardent (F184)
    HMS Ardent was a Royal Navy Type 21 frigate. Built by Yarrow Shipbuilders Ltd, Glasgow, Scotland. She was completed with Exocet launchers in 'B' position...

    who during the Falklands War
    Falklands War
    The Falklands War , also called the Falklands Conflict or Falklands Crisis, was fought in 1982 between Argentina and the United Kingdom over the disputed Falkland Islands and South Georgia and the South Sandwich Islands...

     rescued another sailor before the ship sank (1982)
  • Helen Dickson - Aramoana, New Zealand, elderly woman had recently had hip replacement shot at during Aramoana massacre
    Aramoana massacre
    The Aramoana massacre was a mass murder that occurred on 13 November 1990 in the small seaside township of Aramoana, New Zealand. Resident David Gray, a 33-year-old unemployed man, began indiscriminately shooting people in the township with a scoped semi-automatic rifle, after a verbal dispute with...

    , crawled on hands and knees inside to phone for help, then back out to assist shot neighbour, then crawled inside to phone emergency services again.
  • Marie Dissard
    Marie Dissard
    Marie Dissard, GM, was a member of French Resistance during the German occupation of France in World War II who took over the escape network of Ian Garrow and Albert Guérisse and arranged for over 250 Allied airmen to return to Britain....

     - French Resistance member (World War II)
  • Michou Dumont - Basque
    Basque people
    The Basques as an ethnic group, primarily inhabit an area traditionally known as the Basque Country , a region that is located around the western end of the Pyrenees on the coast of the Bay of Biscay and straddles parts of north-central Spain and south-western France.The Basques are known in the...

     teenager who rescued downed airmen (World War II)
  • Edward Nurse - RUC
    Royal Ulster Constabulary
    The Royal Ulster Constabulary was the name of the police force in Northern Ireland from 1922 to 2000. Following the awarding of the George Cross in 2000, it was subsequently known as the Royal Ulster Constabulary GC. It was founded on 1 June 1922 out of the Royal Irish Constabulary...

     officer, saved two children from a bomb in an RUC police station.
  • Florentino Goicoechea - Basque
    Basque people
    The Basques as an ethnic group, primarily inhabit an area traditionally known as the Basque Country , a region that is located around the western end of the Pyrenees on the coast of the Bay of Biscay and straddles parts of north-central Spain and south-western France.The Basques are known in the...

     who smuggled allied airmen out of France (World War II)
  • Leon Goldsworthy
    Leon Goldsworthy
    Leon Verdi Goldsworthy GC, DSC, GM was a distinguished Australian bomb and mine specialist in the Second World War, and a recipient of the George Cross, the highest gallantry award for actions which are "not in the face of the enemy" that can be awarded to people of British or Commonwealth nations...

     - Royal Australian Naval Volunteer Reserve bomb and mine specialist (World War II)
  • Elvire de Greef (also known as 'Tante Go') - Smuggled downed airmen out of France (World War II)
  • Maurice Griffiths
    Maurice Griffiths
    Maurice Griffiths is a noted yachtsman, boat designer and writer on sailing subjects. In his writing of some 20 book he focuses on the creeks of the Thames Estuary and the English east coast. Books he has written include The Magic of the Swatchways, Swatchways and Little Ships, Sailing on a Small...

     - Royal Navy officer and yachtsman, defused floating German magnetic mines (World War II)
  • Krystyna Skarbek
    Krystyna Skarbek
    Krystyna Skarbek, GM, OBE, Croix de guerre was a Polish Special Operations Executive agent. She became celebrated especially for her daring exploits in intelligence and irregular-warfare missions in Nazi-occupied Poland and France....

     (also known as 'Christine Granville') - Special Operations Executive agent (World War II)
  • Mike Hailwood
    Mike Hailwood
    Stanley Michael Bailey Hailwood, MBE, GM was a British Grand Prix motorcycle road racer regarded by many as one of the greatest racers of all time. He was known as "Mike The Bike" because of his natural riding ability...

     - Racing driver, pulled fellow driver Clay Regazzoni from his burning racing car, setting fire to his own race suit in the process (1973)
  • Countess Andrée de Jongh
    Andrée de Jongh
    Countess Andrée de Jongh was a member of the Belgian Resistance during World War II. She organized the Comet Line for escaped Allied soldiers...

     - Belgian Resistance member (World War II)
  • Stanley McArdle
    Stanley McArdle
    Rear Admiral Stanley Lawrence McArdle CB, MVO, GM was born on 27 September 1922 at Lochmaben, Dumfriesshire, the son of a colour sergeant in the Royal Marines, and was educated at the Royal Hospital School, Holbrook.-Navy career:...

     - Royal Navy officer, rescued survivors from the ferry MV Princess Victoria (1953)
  • John James Baillie - World War II
  • Bernard Peter de Neumann
    Peter de Neumann
    Commander Bernard Peter de Neumann GM RN was a British sailor, convicted pirate, and dockmaster....

     - Merchant Navy officer, removed a 250 kg bomb from the engine room of SS Tewkesbury (World War II)
  • Louis Nouveau - French Resistance member who rescued downed allied airmen (World War II)
  • Andrew Clifford Parker - acted as a human bridge on the Herald of Free Enterprise
  • Ernest Lewis Playford - Civil Defence leader. Following a bombing raid on the London Docks at the height of the Blitz, he led a rescue party into badly damaged and unsafe building. He acted as human bridge as building collapsed saving other rescuers. He refused to leave a trapped warden and protected him as the building collapsed. The warden was dug out alive, however, Playford was severely injured. He was one of the first recipients of the medal (World War II)
  • Lisa Potts
    Lisa Potts
    Lisa Potts GM is a former nursery teacher noted for saving her school children's lives from a machete attack by a man with severe paranoid schizophrenia on July 8, 1996 at the St Luke's Primary School in Blakenhall, Wolverhampton, West Midlands, England. Her arm was almost severed in the attack...

     - Nursery teacher, protected children in her care from a knife attack (1996)
  • David Purley
    David Purley
    David Charles Purley, GM, was a British racing driver born in Bognor Regis, West Sussex. He participated in 11 Formula One World Championship Grands Prix, debuting at Monaco on 3 June 1973...

     - Racing driver, attempted to save the life of his fellow driver Roger Williamson from a burning racing car (1973)
  • Victor Rothschild, 3rd Baron Rothschild
    Victor Rothschild, 3rd Baron Rothschild
    Nathaniel Mayer Victor Rothschild, 3rd Baron Rothschild, GBE, GM, FRS was a biologist by training, a cricketer and a member of the prominent Rothschild family...

     - MI5
    MI5
    The Security Service, commonly known as MI5 , is the United Kingdom's internal counter-intelligence and security agency and is part of its core intelligence machinery alongside the Secret Intelligence Service focused on foreign threats, Government Communications Headquarters and the Defence...

     officer (World War II)
  • Hugh Randall Syme
    Hugh Randall Syme
    Hugh Randall Syme GC, GM & Bar was an Australian naval officer, bomb disposal operative and newspaper proprietor. He was awarded the George Cross for his actions in defusing unexploded bombs and landmines during the Second World War...

     - Royal Australian Naval Volunteer Reserve bomb and mine specialist (World War II)
  • Tenzing Norgay
    Tenzing Norgay
    Padma Bhushan, Supradipta-Manyabara-Nepal-Tara Tenzing Norgay, GM born Namgyal Wangdi and often referred to as Sherpa Tenzing, was a Nepalese Sherpa mountaineer...

     - Mountaineer, climbed to the summit of Mount Everest
    Mount Everest
    Mount Everest is the world's highest mountain, with a peak at above sea level. It is located in the Mahalangur section of the Himalayas. The international boundary runs across the precise summit point...

     (1953)
  • Nancy Wake
    Nancy Wake
    Nancy Grace Augusta Wake, AC, GM , served as a British agent during the later part of World War II. She became a leading figure in the maquis groups of the French Resistance and was one of the Allies' most decorated servicewomen of the war.-Early life:Born in Roseneath, Wellington, New Zealand in...

     - Special Operations Executive
    Special Operations Executive
    The Special Operations Executive was a World War II organisation of the United Kingdom. It was officially formed by Prime Minister Winston Churchill and Minister of Economic Warfare Hugh Dalton on 22 July 1940, to conduct guerrilla warfare against the Axis powers and to instruct and aid local...

     agent (World War II)
  • Captain John Penfield Epps - London dock master who saved ships and lives during the Blitz (1940)
  • Major A. H. G. Gibbon - Korean War veteran, in recognition of his long-sustained courage as a prisoner of war. In May 1951, Gibbon helped three officers to escape, resulting in his “vigorous interrogation” in the camp reserved for this treatment near Pyongyang
    Pyongyang
    Pyongyang is the capital of the Democratic People's Republic of Korea, commonly known as North Korea, and the largest city in the country. Pyongyang is located on the Taedong River and, according to preliminary results from the 2008 population census, has a population of 3,255,388. The city was...

    , known as Pak’s Palace after its commandant, Major Pak.
  • William Arthur Waterton - RAF Squadron Leader
    Squadron Leader
    Squadron Leader is a commissioned rank in the Royal Air Force and the air forces of many countries which have historical British influence. It is also sometimes used as the English translation of an equivalent rank in countries which have a non-English air force-specific rank structure. In these...

     and test pilot, who landed the prototype Gloster Javelin
    Gloster Javelin
    The Gloster Javelin was an "all-weather" interceptor aircraft that served with Britain's Royal Air Force in the late 1950s and most of the 1960s...

     aircraft after flutter had destroyed the elevators, thereby saving important information (1952)
  • Gary O'Donnell
    Gary O'Donnell (British Army soldier)
    Warrant Officer Class 2 Gary John O'Donnell GM & Bar was a British Army bomb disposal expert who was awarded the George Medal twice. The George Medal is the second highest decoration for "acts of great bravery" not "in the face of the enemy". His second George Medal was the first such award in 26...

     - British Army bomb disposal expert killed in Afghanistan in 2008
  • Tony Rivers - Nertherton
    Netherton, West Midlands
    Netherton is a town in the West Midlands within the Metropolitan Borough of Dudley. It lies around south of the town of Dudley and north of Cradley Heath...

    , Dudley, Worcestershire, saved a woman who was trapped on the line at Cradley Heath railway station
    Cradley Heath railway station
    Cradley Heath railway station serves the town of Cradley Heath in the West Midlands of England. It is located on the Birmingham to Worcester via Kidderminster Line...

  • Robert Campbell - Police officer Dumfries
    Dumfries
    Dumfries is a market town and former royal burgh within the Dumfries and Galloway council area of Scotland. It is near the mouth of the River Nith into the Solway Firth. Dumfries was the county town of the former county of Dumfriesshire. Dumfries is nicknamed Queen of the South...

    , Scotland
    Scotland
    Scotland is a country that is part of the United Kingdom. Occupying the northern third of the island of Great Britain, it shares a border with England to the south and is bounded by the North Sea to the east, the Atlantic Ocean to the north and west, and the North Channel and Irish Sea to the...

    , disarmed and arrested Robert Dobie Smith after Smith shot dead fellow police officer William Gibson while the officers were on duty. In 1951 Smith was hanged in Edinburgh
    Edinburgh
    Edinburgh is the capital city of Scotland, the second largest city in Scotland, and the eighth most populous in the United Kingdom. The City of Edinburgh Council governs one of Scotland's 32 local government council areas. The council area includes urban Edinburgh and a rural area...

    .
  • Andrew Pennington
    Andrew Pennington
    Andrew James Pennington GM was a British politician, and a posthumous recipient of the George Medal in 2001.Andrew Pennington was the Liberal Democrat county councillor for Hesters Way in Cheltenham, Gloucestershire, England...

     - died saving the life of Cheltenham
    Cheltenham
    Cheltenham , also known as Cheltenham Spa, is a large spa town and borough in Gloucestershire, on the edge of the Cotswolds in the South-West region of England. It is the home of the flagship race of British steeplechase horse racing, the Gold Cup, the main event of the Cheltenham Festival held...

     MP Nigel Jones
    Nigel Jones, Baron Jones of Cheltenham
    Nigel David Jones, Baron Jones of Cheltenham is a Liberal Democrat politician in the United Kingdom.-Early life:...

     when they were attacked with a samurai sword (2000)
  • Emlyn A G Watkins - Police Inspector - Emlyn Watkins, who lived in Worsley, was shot in the stomach when he tackled three men who had pulled a gun in an Indian restaurant in Rusholme in 1975. When the men were arrested it emerged they were part of an IRA unit sent to assassinate North West VIPs. Watkins was seriously injured but survived. Five men, part of a Manchester-based IRA terrorist cell, were arrested in the aftermath of the shooting and were jailed in 1976 for a total of 627 years.
  • John Inglis - of Hamilton, Lanarkshire, Scotland, was a 2nd Officer in the Royal Merchant Navy and received the award for saving the lives of his staff and his ship when attacked in Singapore Harbour by Japanese bombers during WWII. He was severely injured during the attack.
  • Gordon Meredith - Police Sergeant, West Midlands Police
    West Midlands Police
    West Midlands Police is the territorial police force responsible for policing the metropolitan county of West Midlands in England.Covering an area with nearly 2.6 million inhabitants, which includes the cities of Birmingham, Coventry, Wolverhampton and also the Black Country; the force is made up...

     who, whilst attending a break-in, was shot in the leg and severely injured yet disarmed an intruder who had just shot and fatally wounded a fellow police officer.
  • Warrant Officer Karl Ley
    Karl Ley
    Karl Ley is Class 2 Warrant Officer in the British Army and a bomb disposal expert from the 11 EOD Regiment who was awarded the George Medal for bomb disposal duties in Afghanistan, where he defused more roadside IEDs than anyone else during his six month tour of duty.-Personal life:Born in...

     - made safe 139 improvised explosive devices (IEDs), more than anyone else in history, planted by the Taliban during a tour of Helmand Province in Afghanistan.
  • Flight Sergeant John Rodney Lees Royal Air Force Mountain Rescue Service - rescued an injured British Army officer, Major Hugh Robertson, from the Welsh mountain Craig yr Ysfa in winter by carrying him down the rock face on his back while being lowered, and while the major was struggling in delirium, in the dark.
  • Michael Tolkien - son of author J. R. R. Tolkien
    J. R. R. Tolkien
    John Ronald Reuel Tolkien, CBE was an English writer, poet, philologist, and university professor, best known as the author of the classic high fantasy works The Hobbit, The Lord of the Rings, and The Silmarillion.Tolkien was Rawlinson and Bosworth Professor of Anglo-Saxon at Pembroke College,...

    , anti-aircraft gunner during the Battle of Britain
    Battle of Britain
    The Battle of Britain is the name given to the World War II air campaign waged by the German Air Force against the United Kingdom during the summer and autumn of 1940...

  • Constable John Campbell and Inspector Andrew Hyslop - foiled the Linwood bank robbery
    Linwood bank robbery
    The Linwood bank robbery was a bank robbery in Linwood, near Glasgow, in 1969. Three police officers were shot in the aftermath, including two fatally, and two officers were later awarded George Medals...

  • John Purnell Balcombe Street Siege
    Balcombe Street Siege
    The Balcombe Street Siege was an incident involving members of the Provisional Irish Republican Army and the Metropolitan Police Service of London, England lasting from 6 December to 12 December 1975. The siege ended with the surrender of the four IRA volunteers and the release of their two hostages...

    (1975)
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