Lord Ashcroft Gallery - Imperial War Museum - Victoria Cross & George Cross

Discussion in 'WW2 Museums. Events, & places to see.' started by The Cooler King, Dec 27, 2016.

  1. The Cooler King

    The Cooler King Elite Member

    The Victoria Cross/George Cross Gallery is now located in a new bespoke Gallery on the top floor of the IWM In London. Of course it needs no introduction from me and is an absolute MUST for anyone interested in Gallantry, Medals and of course fascinating personal stories.

    Should you be planning a visit then here is a taster of what to expect:-
     
  2. The Cooler King

    The Cooler King Elite Member

    Arthur Douglas Merriman GC, OBE, DL, FRSE (25 November 1892 – 2 November 1972) was a government scientist with the Ministry of Supply, United Kingdom, an officer of the Royal Engineers and a recipient of the George Cross.

    In 1940 the Lufwaffe were continually bombing London as part of The Blitz. When a bomb dropped on Regent Street on 11 September 1940, Merriman proceeded to remove most of the explosive from the bomb. When it did detonate, it caused minimal damage and for his actions he was awarded the George Cross on 3 December 1940

    Merriman's George Cross citation appeared in the London Gazette on 3 December 1940:

    The King has been graciously pleased to approve the award of the George Cross to:- Arthur Douglas Merriman, Part-time Experimental Officer, Directorate of Scientific Research, Ministry of Supply. For conspicuous bravery in connection with bomb disposal.

    — London Gazette
     

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  3. The Cooler King

    The Cooler King Elite Member

    John Herbert Babington GC, OBE (6 February 1911 – 25 March 1992) was awarded the Greage Cross for "great gallantry and undaunted devotion to duty" in defusing bombs.


    Following a Luftwaffe air raid on the Royal Navy shore establishment at Chatham Dockyard (HMS Pembroke) Babington defused a bomb which had fallen that was fitted with an anti-withdrawal device. Babington was attached to HMS President in London.


    Notice of Babington's George Cross appeared in the London Gazette on 27 December 1940.

    The King has been graciously pleased to approve the award of the George Cross for great gallantry and undaunted devotion to duty to: Probationary Temporary Sub-Lieutenant (Sp) John Herbert Babington R.N.V.R.

    — London Gazette

    He was later appointed an Officer of the British Empire for gallantry in 1944.
     

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  4. The Cooler King

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    Leonard Cheshire VC.

    Cheshire was nearing the end of his fourth tour of duty in July 1944, having completed a total of 102 missions, when he was awarded the Victoria Cross - His citation remarked on the entirety of his operation career, noting:

    In four years of fighting against the bitterest opposition he maintained a standard of outstanding personal achievement, his successful operations being the result of careful planning, brilliant execution and supreme contempt for danger – for example, on one occasion he flew his Mustang in slow 'figures of eight' above a target obscured by low cloud, to act as a bomb-aiming mark for his squadron. Cheshire displayed the courage and determination of an exceptional leader.

    It also gave special mention to a raid against Munich on 24/25 April 1944, in which he had marked a target while flying a Mosquito at low level against "withering fire".
     

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  5. The Cooler King

    The Cooler King Elite Member

    Rear Admiral Sir Anthony Cecil Capel Miers, VC, KBE, CB, DSO & Bar (11 November 1906 – 30 June 1985) (known as "Crap Miers" and"Gamp" was a Royal Navy officer, who served in the submarine service during WW2.

    The citation in the London Gazette read:

    Lieutenant Commander Anthony Cecil Chapel Miers DSO Royal Navy

    For valour in command of H.M. Submarine Torbay in a daring and successful raid on shipping in a defended enemy harbour, planned with full knowledge of the great hazards to be expected during seventeen hours in waters closely patrolled by the enemy. On arriving in the harbour he had to charge his batteries lying on the surface in full moonlight, under the guns of the enemy. As he could not see his target he waited several hours and attacked in full daylight in a glassy calm. When he had fired his torpedoes he was heavily 'counter-attacked and had to withdraw through a long channel with anti-submarine craft all round and continuous air patrols overhead.
     

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  6. The Cooler King

    The Cooler King Elite Member

    Flying Officer Lloyd Allan Trigg VC FFC (5 May 1914 – 11 August 1943), of Houhora, New Zealand, was a pilot in the RNAF. He was a posthumous recipient of the VC, the highest award for gallantry in the face of the enemy for British and Commonwealth armed forces. His award is unique, as it was awarded on evidence solely provided by the enemy, for an action in which there were no surviving Allied witnesses to corroborate his gallantry.

    he citation reads as follows:
    Air Ministry, 2nd November, 1943.

    The King has been graciously pleased to confer the VICTORIA CROSS on the undermentioned officer in recognition of most conspicuous bravery: —

    Flying Officer Lloyd Allan TRIGG, D.F.C. (N.Z.413515), Royal New Zealand Air Force (missing, believed killed), No. 200 Squadron.

    Flying Officer Trigg had rendered outstanding service on convoy escort and antisubmarine duties. He had completed 46 operational sorties and had invariably displayed skill and courage of a very high order. One day in August 1943, Flying Officer Trigg undertook, as captain and pilot, a patrol in a Liberator although he had not previously made any operational sorties in that type of aircraft. After searching for 8 hours a surfaced U-boat was sighted. Flying Officer Trigg immediately prepared to attack. During the approach, the aircraft received many hits from the submarine's anti-aircraft guns and burst into flames, which quickly enveloped the tail. The moment was critical. Flying Officer Trigg could have broken off the engagement and made a forced landing in the sea. But if he continued the attack, the aircraft would present a "no deflection" target to deadly accurate anti-aircraft fire, and every second spent in the air would increase the extent and intensity of the flames and diminish his chances of survival. There could have been no hesitation or doubt in his mind. He maintained his course in spite of the already precarious condition of his aircraft and executed a masterly attack. Skimming over the U-boat at less than 50 feet with anti-aircraft fire entering his opened bomb doors, Flying Officer Trigg dropped his bombs on and around the U-boat where they exploded with devastating effect. A short distance further on the Liberator dived into the sea with her gallant captain and crew. The U-boat sank within 20 minutes and some of her crew were picked up later in a rubber dinghy that had broken loose from the Liberator. The Battle of the Atlantic has yielded many fine stories of air attacks on underwater craft, but Flying Officer Trigg's exploit stands out as an epic of grim determination and high courage. His was the path of duty that leads to glory.
    — Supplement to LG, 29 October 1943, (dated 2 November 1943)
     

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  7. The Cooler King

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    George Harold Eardley VC, MM (6 May 1912 – 11 September 1991).


    Eardley was 32 years old, and an acting Sergeant in the 4th Battalion, KSLI during WW2 when he was awarded the VC.

    On 16 October 1944 east of Overloon, the Netherlands, Sergeant Eardley's platoon was ordered to clear some orchards where a strong opposition was holding up the advance, but 80 yards (73 m) away from the objective the platoon was halted by automatic fire from machine-gun posts. Sergeant Eardley spotted one of these posts and moving forward under heavy fire killed the officer at the post with a grenade. He went on to destroy two more posts single-handed, under fire so intense that it daunted those who were with him, but his action enabled the platoon to achieve its objective and thus ensured the success of the whole attack.
     

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  8. The Cooler King

    The Cooler King Elite Member

    Philip John ("Pip") Gardner VC MC (25 December 1914 – 16 February 2003).

    On 23 November 1941 at Tobruk, Captain Gardner was ordered to take two tanks to the rescue of two armoured cars of the Kings Dragoon Guards, which were out of action and under heavy attack. While one of his tanks gave covering fire the captain dismounted from the other in the face of heavy fire, hitched a tow rope to one of the cars, then lifted into it an officer, both of whose legs had been blown off. The tow rope broke, so Captain Gardner returned to the armoured car, but was immediately wounded in the neck, arm and leg. Despite this he managed to transfer the wounded man to the second tank and returned to British lines through intense shell-fire.

    Following the Battle of Gazala, he was captured and became a POW for the remainder of the war.
     

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  9. The Cooler King

    The Cooler King Elite Member

    Norman Cyril Jackson VC (8 April 1919 – 26 March 1994).

    Extract from Fourth Supplement, LG No 37324 of Friday 26 October 1945:

    The KING has been graciously pleased to confer the VICTORIA CROSS in recognition of most conspicuous bravery to:-

    905192 Sergeant (Now Warrant Officer) Norman Cyril Jackson R.A.F.V.R., 106 Squadron.

    This airman was the flight engineer in a Lancaster detailed to attack Schweinfurt on the night of 26th April 1944. Bombs were dropped successfully and the aircraft was climbing out of the target area. Suddenly it was attacked by a fighter at about 20,000 feet. The captain took evading action at once, but the enemy secured many hits. A fire started near a petrol tank on the upper surface of the starboard wing, between the fuselage and the inner engine.

    Sergeant Jackson was thrown to the floor during the engagement. Wounds which he received from shell splinters in the right leg and shoulder were probably sustained at that time. Recovering himself, he remarked that he could deal with the fire on the wing and obtained his captain's permission to try to put out the flames.

    Pushing a hand fire-extinguisher into the top of his life-saving jacket and clipping on his parachute pack, Sergeant Jackson jettisoned the escape hatch above the pilot's head. He then started to climb out of the cockpit and back along the top of the fuselage to the starboard wing. Before he could leave the fuselage his parachute pack opened and the whole canopy and rigging lines spilled into the cockpit.

    Undeterred, Sergeant Jackson continued. The pilot (Tony Mifflin), bomb aimer (Maurice Toft) and navigator (Frank Higgins) gathered the parachute together and held on to the rigging lines, paying them out as the airman crawled aft. Eventually he slipped and, falling from the fuselage to the starboard wing, grasped an air intake on the leading edge of the wing. He succeeded in clinging on but lost the extinguisher, which was blown away.

    By this time, the fire had spread rapidly and Sergeant Jackson was involved. His face, hands and clothing were severely burnt. Unable to retain his hold he was swept through the flames and over the trailing edge of the wing, dragging his parachute behind. When last seen it was only partly inflated and was burning in a number of places.

    Realising that the fire could not be controlled, the captain gave the order to abandon aircraft. Four of the remaining members of the crew landed safely. The captain and rear gunner have not been accounted for.

    Sergeant Jackson was unable to control his descent and landed heavily. He sustained a broken ankle, his right eye was closed through burns and his hands were useless. These injuries, together with the wounds received earlier, reduced him to a pitiable state. At daybreak he crawled to the nearest village, where he was taken prisoner. He bore the intense pain and discomfort of the journey to Dulag Luft with magnificent fortitude. After ten months in hospital he made a good recovery, though his hands require further treatment and are only of limited use.

    This airman's attempt to extinguish the fire and save the aircraft and crew from falling into enemy hands was an act of outstanding gallantry. To venture outside, when travelling at 200 miles an hour, at a great height and in intense cold, was an almost incredible feat. Had he succeeded in subduing the flames, there was little or no prospect of his regaining the cockpit. The spilling of his parachute and the risk of grave damage to its canopy reduced his chances of survival to a minimum. By his ready willingness to face these dangers he set an example of self-sacrifice which will ever be remembered.
     

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  10. The Cooler King

    The Cooler King Elite Member

    Wing Commander Roderick Alastair Brook Learoyd VC (5 February 1913 – 24 January 1996).
    The announcement and accompanying citation for the decoration was published in a supplement to the London Gazette on 20 August 1940, reading

    'Air Ministry, 20th August, 1940.

    The KING has been graciously pleased to confer the VICTORIA CROSS on the undermentioned officer in recognition of most conspicuous bravery :-

    Acting Flight Lieutenant Roderick Alastair Brook Learoyd 37860 :-

    This officer, as first pilot of a Hampden aircraft, has repeatedly shown the highest conception of his duty and complete indifference to personal danger in making attacks at the lowest altitudes regardless of opposition. On the night of 12th August, 1940, he was detailed to attack a special objective on the Dortmund Ems Canal. He had attacked this objective on a previous occasion and was well aware of the risks entailed. To achieve success it was necessary to approach from a direction well known to the enemy, through a lane of especially disposed anti-aircraft defences, and in the face of the most intense point-blank fire from guns of all calibres. The reception of the preceding aircraft might well have deterred the stoutest heart, all being hit and two lost. Flight Lieutenant Learoyd nevertheless made his attack at 150 feet, his aircraft being repeatedly hit and large pieces of the main plane torn away. He was almost blinded by the glare of many searchlights at close range, but pressed home this attack with the greatest resolution and skill. He subsequently brought his wrecked aircraft home and, as the landing flaps were inoperative and the undercarriage indicators out of action, waited for dawn in the vicinity of his aerodrome before landing, which he accomplished without causing injury to his crew or further damage to the aircraft. The high courage, skill and determination, which this officer has invariably displayed on many occasions in the face of the enemy sets an example which is unsurpassed.
     

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  11. The Cooler King

    The Cooler King Elite Member

    Lieut Colonel Eric Charles Twelves Wilson VC (2 October 1912 – 23 December 2008).

    The formal citation for Wilson's VC, published in the LG in October 1940 when he was still presumed dead, reads:

    The KING has been pleased to approve of the award of The Victoria Cross to :

    Lieutenant (acting Captain) Eric Charles Twelves Wilson, The East Surrey Regiment (attached Somaliland Camel Corps).

    For most conspicuous gallantry on active service in Somaliland. Captain Wilson was in command of machine-gun posts manned by Somali soldiers in the key position of Observation Hill, a defended post in the defensive organisation of the Tug Argan Gap in British Somaliland. The enemy attacked Observation Hill on August 11th, 1940. Captain Wilson and Somali gunners under his command beat off the attack and opened fire on the enemy troops attacking Mill Hill, another post within his range. He inflicted such heavy casualties that the enemy, determined to put his guns out of action, brought up a pack battery to within seven hundred yards, and scored two direct hits through the loopholes of his defences, which, bursting within the post, wounded Captain Wilson severely in the right shoulder and in the left eye, several of his team being also wounded. His guns were blown off their stands but he repaired and replaced them and, regardless of his wounds, carried on, whilst his Somali sergeant was killed beside him. On August 12th and 14th the enemy again concentrated field artillery fire on Captain Wilson's guns, but he continued, with his wounds untended, to man them. On August 15th two of his machine-gun posts were blown to pieces, yet Captain Wilson, now suffering from malaria in addition to wounds, still kept his own post in action. The enemy finally over-ran the post at 5 p.m. on the 15th August when Captain Wilson, fighting to the last, was killed.
     

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  12. The Cooler King

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    David Samuel Anthony Lord VC, DFC (18 October 1913 – 19 September 1944).

    The full citation for Lord's VC appeared in a supplement to the LG on 9 November 1945, reading:

    Air Ministry, 13 November 1945.

    The KING has been graciously pleased to confer the VICTORIA CROSS on the undermentioned officer in recognition of most conspicuous bravery:—

    Flight Lieutenant David Samuel Anthony LORD, D.F.C. (49149), R.A.F., 271 Sqn. (deceased).

    Flight Lieutenant Lord was pilot and captain of a Dakota aircraft detailed to drop supplies at Arnhem on the afternoon of the 19th September, 1944. Our airborne troops had been surrounded and were being pressed into a small area defended by a large number of anti-aircraft guns. Air crews were warned that intense opposition would be met over the dropping zone. To ensure accuracy they were ordered to fly at 900 feet when dropping their containers.

    While flying at 1,500 feet near Arnhem the starboard wing of Flight Lieutenant Lord's aircraft was twice hit by anti-aircraft fire. The starboard engine was set on fire. He would have been justified in leaving the main stream of supply aircraft and continuing at the same height or even abandoning his aircraft. But on learning that his crew were uninjured and that the dropping zone would be reached in three minutes he said he would complete his mission, as the troops were in dire need of supplies.

    By now the starboard engine was burning furiously. Flight Lieutenant Lord came down to 900 feet, where he was singled out for the concentrated fire of all the anti-aircraft guns. On reaching the dropping zone he kept the aircraft on a straight, and level course while supplies were dropped. At the end of the run, he was told that two containers remained.

    Although he must have known that the collapse of the starboard wing could not be long delayed, Flight Lieutenant Lord circled, rejoined the stream of aircraft and made a second run to drop the remaining supplies. These manoeuvres took eight minutes in all, the aircraft being continuously under heavy anti-aircraft fire.

    His task completed, Flight Lieutenant Lord ordered his crew to abandon the Dakota, making no attempt himself to leave the aircraft, which was down to 500 feet. A few seconds later, the starboard wing collapsed and the aircraft fell in flames. There was only one survivor, who was flung out while assisting other members of the crew to put on their parachutes.

    By continuing his mission in a damaged and burning aircraft, descending to drop the supplies accurately, returning to the dropping zone a second time and, finally, remaining at the controls to give his crew a chance of escape, Flight Lieutenant Lord displayed supreme valour and self-sacrifice.
     

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  13. The Cooler King

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    Violet Szabo was the second woman to be awarded the George Cross, bestowed posthumously on 17 December 1946. A legend of SOE, The citation was published in the LG and read:

    St. James's Palace, S.W.1. 17 December 1946

    The King has been graciously pleased to award the GEORGE CROSS to: —

    Violette, Madame SZABO (deceased), Women's Transport Service (First Aid Nursing Yeomanry).

    Madame Szabo volunteered to undertake a particularly dangerous mission in France. She was parachuted into France in April, 1944, and undertook the task with enthusiasm. In her execution of the delicate researches entailed she showed great presence of mind and astuteness. She was twice arrested by the German security authorities but each time managed to get away. Eventually, however, with other members of her group, she was surrounded by the Gestapo in a house in the south-west of France. Resistance appeared hopeless but Madame Szabo, seizing a Sten-gun and as much ammunition as she could carry, barricaded herself in part of the house and, exchanging shot for shot with the enemy, killed or wounded several of them. By constant movement, she avoided being cornered and fought until she dropped exhausted. She was arrested and had to undergo solitary confinement. She was then continuously and atrociously tortured but never by word or deed gave away any of her acquaintances or told the enemy anything of any value. She was ultimately executed. Madame Szabo gave a magnificent example of courage and steadfastness.
     

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  14. The Cooler King

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    Temporary Colonel Lanceray Arthur Newnham GC MC (3 August 1889 – 18 December 1943).
    Newnham was serving with the British Army Aid Group in Hong Kong at the start of the Second World War. He was taken prisoner when the Japanese invaded Hong Kong in December 1941 and, with Captain Douglas Ford and Flight Lieutenant Hector Bertham Gray worked to contact British agents and organise a mass escape. The Japanese discovered the plan and arrested the trio, torturing them in Stanley Prison in an effort to gain more information. They refused to divulge any further names despite being beaten, starved and threatened with death. They were killed by firing Squad in Sham Shui Prison Camp on 18 December 1943.
     

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  15. The Cooler King

    The Cooler King Elite Member

    Leslie Owen Fox was awarded the George Cross for '...performing his duty in a most gallant and determined manner' when rescuing an injured man from a bombsite in Fulham on the 20 February 1944.
    Notice of his award was published in the LG on the 20 February 1945.

    The King has been graciously pleased to award the George Cross to:—Leslie Owen Fox, Deputy Party Leader, London County Council Heavy Rescue Service.

    High explosive and incendiary bombs demolished houses and set fire to the wreckage. The walls were liable to collapse at any moment and the entire framework was well alight. Cries were heard from under the debris and Fox, without thought for himself, immediately began to tunnel his way through the blazing ruins. Debris passed back by Fox was often too hot to handle and his men continually sprayed him with water in an endeavour to keep down the almost intolerable heat from the flames. At great danger to himself Fox shored the entrance to the tunnel, adjoining which was a very dangerous party wall. After about two hours of very strenuous work and under the most difficult and dangerous conditions Fox located the casualty. Although'in a distressed condition he would not allow a relief to take his place and continued rescue operations. Shortly afterwards the dangerous wall collapsed, blocking the entrance and causing the tunnel to subside. Fox, however recommenced tunnelling, straining every muscle to expedite the work. After a further two hours' work he had tunnelled 15 feet and was able to clear debris away from the head of the casualty and cover him with some sort of

    protection. A Medical Officer was then enabled to enter and administer restoratives to the injured man, who was eventually brought to safety. Fox performed his duty in a most gallant and determined manner and, by his courage and tenacity, saved a man from what appeared to be almost certain death.
    — London Gazette
     

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  16. The Cooler King

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    Odette Sansom Hallowes GC, MBE (28 April 1912 – 13 March 1995).

    Her wartime exploits and endurance of a brutal interrogation and imprisonment, which were chronicled in books and a motion picture, made her one of the most celebrated members of the SOE, the British sabotage and espionage organisation, and one of the few to survive Nazi imprisonment.

    She was the first woman to be awarded both the George Cross, and to be appointed a Chevalier de la Legion d'honneur.
     

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  17. The Cooler King

    The Cooler King Elite Member

    And a few other highlights......

    Noel Chavasse VC & BAR. MC.
     

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  18. The Cooler King

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    John McNeill VC.
     

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  19. The Cooler King

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    Ernest Pitcher VC
     

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  20. The Cooler King

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    Stephen Garvin VC
     

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