b. 26/07/1912 Neston, Cheshire. d. 21/11/1941 Sidi Rezegh, Libya.
George Ward Gunn (1912-1941) was born in Neston, Cheshire, on 26th July 1912, the son of Dr George Gunn, a local General Practitioner in Neston from 1911 to 1945. George junior and his three younger brothers were all educated in Park Gate at Mostyn House School. Their father was the Medical Officer at the school. George then went on to study at Sedbergh School and on completing his education he went to London as an articled accountant. When the war broke out in 1939, he was a chartered accountant and company secretary with Messrs Sissons & Co, of New Board Street, London.
He volunteered for enlistment on the day of the announcement of the outbreak of war, and was called up in December 1939, becoming a Gunner in the Royal Horse Artillery. A few months later, he entered an officers’ training corps camp and was commissioned in August 1940. Most of his time was spent in Libya, and in May 1941 he was awarded the Military Cross for gallantry and coolness, and inspiring his garrison on 4th-5th January at Tobruk.
On 21 November 1941 at Sidi Rezegh, Libya, an attack by 60 German tanks was countered by the four anti-tank guns ("A Troop") under the command of Second Lieutenant Gunn.
During the engagement this officer drove from gun to gun in an unarmoured vehicle, encouraging his men, and when three of his guns were destroyed and the crew of the fourth, except the sergeant, were all dead or disabled, he took charge of this remaining weapon, the portee of which was alight. There was danger of the flames exploding the ammunition with which the portee was loaded, but he managed to fire 50 rounds from the QF 2 pounder gun and set two enemy tanks on fire before he himself was killed by being shot through the head.
After he was killed, the battery commander Major Pinney, who had aided Ward by dealing with the ammunition fire, took over the gun and continued the action. As a result of the battery's actions, it was given the honour title "Sidi Rezegh". At the time of his death he was unmarried, and was buried in Knightsbridge War Cemetery, Libya. Two of his brothers were also serving, one in the Royal Artillery, one in the Royal Army Medical Corps and one was a medical student.
His medals are held by the Royal Artillery, and are currently in storage following the closure of the Royal Artillery Museum in Woolwich. A new Royal Artillery Museum is due to open in 2020 at Larkhill, Salisbury Plain.
LOCATION OF MEDAL: ROYAL ARTILLERY MUSEUM, WOOLWICH, LONDON.
BURIAL PLACE: KNIGHTSBRIDGE WAR CEMETERY, LIBYA.
George Gunn's medals including VC and MC on display at the Royal Artillery Museum, Woolwich (Jan 2015).
George Gunn portrait at the Royal Artillery Museum (Jan 2015).
Cemetery Plan courtesy of Kevin Brazier
PLOT IV, ROW F, GRAVE 1
St Mary's and St Helen's Church, Neston, Cheshire.
RA Chapel, Woolwich