George Medal

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The George Medal
George Medal obverse.jpgGeorge Medal Rev.jpg
Obverse (top left) and reverse (top right) of the medal.
Awarded by United Kingdom of Great Britain and Northern Ireland and Commonwealth
Type Civil decoration.
Eligibility Those performing acts of bravery in, or meriting recognition by, the United Kingdom.
Awarded for "... acts of great bravery."
Status Currently awarded.
Description Silver disc, 36mm diameter.
Post-nominals GM
Established 24 September 1940 (1940-09-24)
Total awarded approx 2,122
Order of Wear
Next (higher) Conspicuous Gallantry Medal (Flying)[1]
Next (lower) Queen's Police Medal, for Gallantry
Related George Cross
UK George Medal ribbon.svg
Ribbon bar of the George Medal
UK GM w Bar ribbon.svg
Ribbon of the GM and Bar

The George Medal (GM) is the second level civil decoration of the United Kingdom and Commonwealth. The GM was instituted on 24 September 1940 by King George VI.[2] The medal is presented to those performing acts of bravery in, or meriting recognition by, the United Kingdom.


In 1940, during the height of The Blitz, 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 and the GM would be instituted to recognise both civilian gallantry in the face of enemy action and brave deeds more generally.[3]

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, which will rank next to the Victoria Cross, and the George Medal for wider distribution.[3]

The Warrant for the GM (along with that of the GC), dated 24 January 1941, was published in the London Gazette on 31 January 1941.[4]


The medal is granted in recognition of "acts of great bravery".[5] The original Warrant for the George Medal did not permit it to be awarded posthumously. This was changed in December 1977 to allow posthumous awards, several of which have been subsequently made.[6]

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.[7] 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.[8]

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.[9] Recipients are entitled to the post-nominal letters GM.[10]

The details of all awards to British and Commonwealth recipients are published in the London Gazette. Approximately 2,122 medals have been awarded since its inception in 1940.[citation needed]


The GM is a circular silver medal. The obverse depicts the crowned effigy of the reigning monarch. The reverse shows St. George on horseback slaying the dragon on the coast of England, with the legend "THE GEORGE MEDAL" around the top edge of the medal. The ribbon is 32 mm (1.3 in) wide, crimson with five narrow blue stripes. The blue colour is taken from the George Cross ribbon.[citation needed]


The first recipients, listed in the London Gazette of 30 September 1940, were Chief Officer Ernest Herbert Harmer and Second Officer Cyril William Arthur Brown of the Dover Fire Brigade, and Section Officer Alexander Edmund Campbell of the Dover Auxiliary Fire Service, who on 29 July had volunteered to return to a ship loaded with explosives in Dover Harbour to fight fires aboard while an air raid was in progress.[11][12] Seven other people were also awarded the medal, including the first women; Ambulance Driver Dorothy Clarke and Ambulance Attendant Bessie Jane Hepburn of Aldeburgh, Suffolk, for rescuing a man badly injured in an explosion.[11]

The first recipient chronologically was Coxswain Robert Cross, commander of the RNLI lifeboat City of Bradford, based at Spurn Point, whose award was gazetted on 7 February 1941. It was awarded for an incident on 2 February 1940 when Cross took the lifeboat out in gale force winds, snowsqualls, and very rough seas to rescue the crew of a steam trawler.[13][14]

The first person to receive a second award was George Samuel Sewell, an engineer working for Shell-Mex and B.P. Ltd., based at the oil terminal at Salt End, near Hull, for his actions during an air raid. Having been one of the first recipients in September 1940,[11] his bar to the George Medal was gazetted on 4 July 1941.[14][15]

See also[edit]


  1. ^ The London Gazette: (Supplement) no. 56878. p. 3352. 17 March 2003.
  2. ^ British Gallantry Medals, p.138
  3. ^ a b "75th anniversary of the George Cross and George Medal". British Army Website. 24 September 2015. Retrieved 4 November 2015. 
  4. ^ The London Gazette: no. 35060. pp. 623–624. 31 January 1941.
  5. ^ London Gazette, 31 January 1941 – Warrant, Fifth clause
  6. ^ The London Gazette: (Supplement) no. 47397. p. 15235. 5 December 1977.
  7. ^ Which could not therefore be recognised by a military decoration, given that they typically require gallantry in the face of the enemy.
  8. ^ London Gazette, 31 January 1941 – Warrant, Second clause
  9. ^ London Gazette, 31 January 1941 – Warrant, Seventh clause
  10. ^ London Gazette, 31 January 1941 – Warrant, Ninth clause
  11. ^ a b c The London Gazette: (Supplement) no. 34956. p. 5768. 27 September 1940.
  12. ^ Sencicle, Lorraine (27 July 2013). "Dover Fire Service – Part II from 1939". The Dover Historian. Retrieved 4 November 2015. 
  13. ^ The London Gazette: (Supplement) no. 35066. p. 742. 4 February 1941.
  14. ^ a b Stratford, Stephen (2015). "George Medal". British Military & Criminal History 1900 to 1999. Retrieved 4 November 2015. 
  15. ^ The London Gazette: (Supplement) no. 35210. pp. 3893–3894. 4 July 1941.


  • Abbott, P. E.; Tamplin, J. M. A. (1981). British Gallantry Awards. London: Nimrod Dix and Co. ISBN 9780902633742. 
  • Duckers, Peter (2001). British Gallantry Awards 1855–2000. Princes Risborough, Buckinghamshire: Shire Publications. ISBN 9780747805168. 
  • Mackay, James A.; Mussell, John W., eds. (2005). The Medal Yearbook 2005. Devon, UK: Token Publishing. ISBN 9781870192675. 

External links[edit]