GC Diary 18th September
By victoriagreen068, Sep 18 2016 06:22AM
The George Cross Diary for 18th September contains four recipients, one a Edward Medallist for an industrial rescue, one a Empire Gallantry Medallist, and two direct George Crosses from the Second World War.
Albert John Meadows EM/GC was born on 6th June 1904 in St Pancras, London, the son of John Edwin Meadows and Elizabeth Jane (nee Gosling). His father was a wine merchant’s porter when he was born. He attended the local school and when he left he went to work at WA Gilbey, Camden, where he would be awarded the Edward Medal for actions on 18th September 1931.
John Gale was cleaning out the residue in an empty cherry brandy vat when he was discovered unconscious by Frederick Wormald, having been gassed by the carbon dioxide generated by fermentation of the residue. Wormald went into the vat but was unable to get Gale out. He then called Leonard Wright and went down a second time, but was himself affected by the gas and had to be helped out by Wright. Wright then tried but he too became unconscious at the bottom of the vat. In the meantime the manager had sent for assistance. Harold Hostler arrived and immediately entered the vat. He succeeded in dragging Wright to a sitting position near the foot of a ladder, but feeling the effects, he had to leave the vat. He tried twice more, finally getting Gale to the bottom of the ladder, but they only got Hostler out. Albert Meadows then volunteered to go into the vat and after two attempts managed to rescue Wright. He then made a third unsuccessful attempt to get Gale, but succeeded on a 4th attempt. Both Gale and Wright recovered from their injuries.
He served with the Royal Army Ordnance Corps during WWII, and was demobbed as a Sergeant in 1946. After the war he returned to WA Gilbey where all in all he worked for 47 years. He lived in retirement in Sussex with his wife Laura Phyllis, who predeceased him. They had no children. Meadows exchanged his EM for a GC. He died on 19th March 1988 in Chichester and was cremated at the local crematorium. His medals are privately held.
The second recipient is Ahmed Muhammad Mirghany EGM/GC of whom very little is known. He was of Sudanese birth but the date is unknown. He was awarded the EGM for his actions on 18th September 1932, when the Nile flooded extensively in Khartoum.
At the height of the Nile flood, at a point where the river is particularly dangerous, even for the strongest swimmer, he rescued three girls from certain death by drowning, the oldest of whom was just 15 years old.
His EGM was exchanged for a GC in 1940, and then little more is known about him, and he died on 25th August 1951 and is believed cremated. His medals are privately held.
Roy Thomas Harris GC was born on 1st August 1902 in Cardiff, Wales. During the Second World War, he worked as an ARP Engineer in the Surrey area. He was awarded the GC for the following incident on 18th September 1940 in Thornton Heath, Surrey.
An unexploded bomb fell into a house on Langdale Road. Massive air raids had begun a few days earlier and the problem of dealing with so many bombs at one time was a new one. Harris dismantled it, this being one of 85 such acts carried out by him. It should be noted here that Harris was not trained for bomb disposal. In 1942 he volunteered for the Royal Engineers. During an inspection, the GC was not recognized by a high-ranking officer, who promptly told him, "We dont allow civil decorations to be worn in the Army." However, when told of the ribbon's significance, the officer apologised.
Harris was awarded the GC. He died on 11th August 1973 in Wolverhampton, and was cremated at Bushbury Crematorium. His medals are held in the Lord Ashcroft Gallery, Imperial War Museum.
Michael Flood “Max” Blaney GC was born in Newry, Ireland on 14th November 1910. He was part of the Corps of Royal Engineers during the Second World War who had the task of tackling and defusing unexploded bombs which fell during the Blitz.
On three separate occasions in the Autumn/Winter of 1940 he showed exceptional gallantry, which would ultimately, on the third occasion, cost him his life. On 18th September 1940, a bomb fell in Manor Way, a few yards from the junction with the East Ham and Barking bypass, and failed to explode. Captain Blaney was called to the scene and removed the bomb. On 20th October an unexploded bomb was reported in Park Avenue, East Ham. Unusually it had two very dangerous time fuses,and constituted a very real danger to the public and the Bomb Disposal Section. Blaney personally defused the bomb; it was his usual practice to work alone in these situations. On 13th December he was called to remove the fuse from an unexploded bomb that had fallen in premises abutting Romford Road, Manor Park, several days previously. He had planned to fit a "Q" coil around the bomb but, due to its cumbersomeness, he abandoned the idea and instead attempted to steady the bomb as it was pulled clear. Unfortunately the bomb exploded, killing Blaney and 9 others.
Blaney was posthumously awarded the GC, and buried in Old Chapel RC Cemetery, Newry, Ireland. His medals are held by his family.