Empire Gallantry Medal

The Medal of the Most Excellent Order of the British Empire for Gallantry, usually known as the Empire Gallantry Medal (EGM), was a British medal awarded for acts of the gallantry that did not reach the standard required for the Albert Medal and the Edward Medal. King George V introduced it on 29 December 1922. Recipients were entitled to use the post-nominal letters "EGM" and as a Medal of the Order of the British Empire it was also divided into military and civil divisions. Unlike appointments to the Order of the British Empire it could be awarded posthumously.

Empire Gallantry Medal
Empire Gallantry Medal
Empire Gallantry Medal
Awarded by United Kingdom of Great Britain and Northern Ireland
TypeCivil decoration
EligibilityBritish and Commonwealth subjects
StatusRevoked by Royal Warrant on 24 September 1940
DescriptionCircular medal, 36 mm in diameter, with the recipient's name around the rim, obverse picturing Britannia, her left and resting on a shield and right hand holding a trident, with a sun in the upper right corner. The medal's appearance varied between its conception and revocation
Statistics
Established29 December 1922
First awarded1 January 1923
Total awarded130[1]
Posthumous
awards
8
Precedence
Next (higher)Kings' Police Medal[2]
Next (lower)Indian Police Medal

History

In 1922, the original Medal of the Order of the British Empire was split into two, the Medal of the Order of the British Empire for Gallantry (EGM) awarded for acts of gallantry, and the Medal of the Order of the British Empire for Meritorious Service that is generally known as the British Empire Medal (BEM) awarded for meritorious services and was the lower level award of the Order of the British Empire. The EGM was awarded until 1940, when it was superseded by the George Cross.

Shortly after the commencement of the Blitz, King George VI created the George Cross to recognise gallantry by men and women in all walks of civilian life. It was to rank immediately after the Victoria Cross. The Empire Gallantry Medal was revoked by Royal Warrant on 24 September 1940. All living recipients and the next-of-kin of recipients who had been posthumously awarded the medal after 3 September 1939 (the start of World War II) were obliged to exchange the Empire Gallantry Medal for the George Cross. It was only in 1971, that then living recipients of the Albert Medal and Edward Medal were deemed to be George Cross recipients. Most former Albert Medal and Edward Medal recipients accepted the invitation to change their original insignia for the George Cross but unlike the Empire Gallantry Medallists they were not obliged to exchange their original insignia.[3]

Appearance

The medal and ribbon were designed first by Langford Jones, though it was changed throughout its existence. The phrase "For God and the Empire" was inscribed round the upper side of the obverse. The first type of reverse had six lions, with the Royal Cypher centred.[4] The 2nd type of reverse had four lions, two on either side of the Royal Cypher. The original ribbon was plain purple, with the addition of a thin vertical red stripe for military awards. A silver laurel branch was added diagonally to the ribbon for both types of award in 1933. The ribbon changed to rose pink with pearl grey edges in July 1937, with an addition pearl grey vertical stripe for military awards, and stayed in this version until its revocation.

Statistics

  • Civil Division 64 (3 posthumous)
  • Military Division 62 (5 posthumous)
  • Honorary awards 4

The four honorary awards were not able to be exchanged for the George Cross and neither were the four posthumous awards prior to 3 September 1939. Of the remaining 122 awards, 112 were exchanged including four Military Division posthumous awards gazetted after the start of World War II.

Selected recipients

The following list (mostly of those recipients with standalone articles) is in part extracted from the fuller list at List of George Cross recipients. Also intended to be included here are 18 awards of the EGM that were not exchanged for the George Cross. Where present in the table below, these are marked (*).
Empire Gallantry Medal recipients
Name Rank (or Role) Organisation Date gazetted Image
Walter Anderson Flying Officer Royal Air Force 12 April 1929
Walter Arnold Leading Aircraftman Royal Air Force 9 November 1928
Henry George Blogg Coxswain Cromer Lifeboat 30 June 1924 Henry Blogg 1 Feb 2008 (1)
Theodore Bogdanovitch Mulazim Trans-Jordan Frontier Force 30 June 1939
Guy Branch (*) Pilot Officer Royal Air Force (Auxiliary Air Force) 30 June 1939 Guy Rawstron Branch
Abdus-Samad Golandaz Land-lord, Property Owner and Sand Contractor
4 June 1934
Alexander Mitchell Hodge Sub Lieutenant Royal Navy 14 March 1940
Richard Frank Jolly Commander Royal Navy 23 December 1939
Cecil Kelly Barge pilot
5 February 1937
Alfred Lungley Lance Sergeant British Army 19 November 1935
Frederick Hamilton March Chauffeur
5 December 1924 Frederick Hamilton March AWM P03444.001
William Neil McKechnie Flight Cadet Royal Air Force 18 October 1929
Joan Daphne Mary Pearson Corporal Women's Auxiliary Air Force 19 July 1940 Daphne Pearson GC
Patrick Gordon Taylor Captain Aus-NZ Airmail Flight 9 July 1937 Patrick Taylor
Dorothy Louise Thomas Nurse Middlesex Hospital 2 March 1934
James Gordon Melville Turner Radio Officer Merchant Navy 13 October 1939

References

  1. ^ P E Abbott and J M A Tamplin. British Gallantry Awards, Nimrod Dix & Co, 1981, ISBN 0 902633 74 0, Chapter 36, p. 242
  2. ^ Order of Wear, London Gazette, No. 34277, Friday, 24 April 1936, pp. 2621–23
  3. ^ P E Abbott and J M A Tamplin. British Gallantry Awards, Nimrod Dix & Co, 1981, ISBN 0 902633 74 0, Chapter 36, pp. 240–43
  4. ^ Imperial War Museum. "Empire Gallantry Medal (Medal of the Order of the British Empire for Gallantry) (Military Division) & EGM [OMD 14]". IWM Collections Search. Retrieved 21 April 2013.

External links

Abdus Samad Abdul Wahid Golandaz

Abdus-Samad Abdul-Wahid Golandaz GC was an Indian landowner who received the Empire Gallantry Medal (later converted to the George Cross), the highest non-combat gallantry decoration of the British Empire, in the 1934 Birthday Honours.

Alfred Lungley

Alfred Herbert Lungley, GC (1905–1989) was a British soldier of the Royal Artillery who distinguished himself during rescue efforts after the Quetta earthquake of 1935.

Lungley was born in Colchester, Essex, on 20 October 1905. After joining the British Army he was assigned to the Royal Artillery, and served in British India with the 24th Mountain Brigade which was then stationed near Quetta (then India, now Pakistan).

On 31 May 1935 a serious earthquake hit the region near Quetta. This ranks as one of the deadliest earthquakes ever to hit South Asia, and as the 23rd worst earthquake worldwide (by death toll) to date. The quake was centred 4.0 kilometres South West of Ali Jaan. Most of the reported casualties occurred in the city of Quetta. Initial communiqué drafts estimated a total of 20,000 people buried under the rubble, 10,000 survivors and 4,000 injured. The city was badly damaged and was immediately prepared to be sealed under military guard with medical help. Among other units, also the 24th Mountain Brigade was ordered to assist in rescue efforts. Lance-Sergeant Lungley was called to a house which had collapsed, trapping a man under the debris. He burrowed through the debris to reach and rescue the man, despite suffering a serious leg injury himself and the constant danger of the tunnel collapsing. For his extreme bravery during this operation, Lungley was awarded the Empire Gallantry Medal on 19 November 1935.In 1940 the Empire Gallantry Medal was revoked by Royal Warrant and replaced by the George Cross. All living recipients of the Empire Gallantry Medal and the next-of-kin of those recipients who had died since September 1939 were obliged to exchange their award for the newly established George Cross.

After the end of World War II Alfred Lungley married and moved to Norwich, Norfolk, where he died in 1989. His ashes are buried at Earlham Crematorium in Norwich, where he and his wife are commemorated with a small plaque in the grounds of the Garden of Remembrance.

Cecil Kelly

Cecil Francis Kelly (died 23 November 1948) GC was an Irish barge pilot. He was a recipient of the Empire Gallantry Medal, later exchanged for a George Cross.

Dorothy Louise Thomas

Dorothy Louise Thomas GC (11 August 1905 – 22 November 1989) was a British nurse awarded the Empire Gallantry Medal (EGM) for her actions preventing a major incident at the Middlesex Hospital in January 1934.

EGM

EGM may refer to:

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Electronic Gaming Monthly, an American video game magazine

Empire Gallantry Medal, a British civil award

Equity Global Management, an American private equity firm

Extraordinary general meeting

Seghe Airport, in the Solomon Islands

Emma Jose Townsend

Emma José Townsend (1869 – 8 March 1965) was a British recipient of the Empire Gallantry Medal.

Born in Leicester in 1869, Miss Townsend moved to Devon in 1926 together with her two sisters. In May 1932, one of her sisters, Elizabeth, was seriously ill in Kingsbridge Cottage Hospital. On 7 May, Emma was visiting her when she heard screaming from the next ward. One of the patients in the next ward was nine-year old William Yeoman, who was being assaulted by his father, William Jarvis Yeoman. Mr Yeoman had arrived at the hospital with a shotgun concealed under a coat with the intention of shooting his son. He was interrupted by a nurse but managed to fire at his son before striking him with the gun; it was the boy's screams that Emma Townsend had heard. Without hesitation, Townsend attempted to disarm Yeoman but each time she tried, he pushed her aside, on one occasion striking her with the gun, causing a scalp wound. Yeoman eventually broke away and ran from the hospital.Yeoman was captured by the police some hours later, but in the meantime had murdered his wife and other two children. William died two days later from injuries inflicted during the assault. Emma Townsend was treated for the head wound and later discharged.

Yeoman was charged with the murders of his family and the attempted murder of Emma Townsend. He was tried at Devon Assizes in June 1932 and found guilty but insane; he was ordered to be detained during His Majesty's pleasure. Giving evidence, Miss Townsend described her actions by saying, "I did my best". The trial judge, Mr Justice Charles, responded, "I think you acted with great courage".On 6 September 1932, the award of the Empire Gallantry Medal to Emma Townsend was published in the London Gazette. The citation ran:

On the 9th May, 1932, W. J. Yeoman, a farmer of Kingsbridge, South Devon, murdered one of his sons in the South Hams Cottage Hospital at Kingsbridge. The boy, aged 9, was an inmate under treatment at the Hospital and Yeoman attacked him as he lay in bed, first firing at him with a gun and then striking him with it several times. Miss Townsend, who was visiting her sister at the Hospital, heard cries of "Help" and went into the ward. She showed great courage in trying to prevent the killing of the boy and behaved most gallantly. In the struggle Yeoman struck her with the barrel of the gun and cut her head open. It was necessary afterwards to stitch up the wound and she lost a quantity of blood.

In subsequent interviews, Miss Townsend maintained that she did no more than anyone else would have done in the circumstances. She was reluctant to talk about the incident as her sister had died only a few days afterwards.Like all recipients of the Empire Gallantry Medal, Miss Townsend's medal was exchanged for the George Cross after its introduction in 1940. Miss Townsend was one of four women to be awarded the Empire Gallantry Medal.

Frederick Hamilton March

Frederick Hamilton March, (6 August 1891 – 30 October 1977) was an Australian soldier and adventurer. He served in the Middle East during the First World War. He received the Empire Gallantry Medal, then the highest civilian gallantry award in the British Empire, for his conduct during the assassination of the Governor-General of Sudan, Sir Lee Stack. He was involved with the Sudanese Ministry of Agriculture during his later working career.

Gordon Taylor (aviator)

Sir Patrick Gordon Taylor, (21 October 1896 – 15 December 1966), commonly known as Bill Taylor, was an Australian aviator and author. He was born at Mosman, Sydney, and died in Honolulu.

Taylor attended The Armidale School in northern New South Wales. At the beginning of the First World War he applied to join the Australian Flying Corps but was rejected. He subsequently went to Britain and was commissioned into the Royal Flying Corps in 1916, joining No. 66 Squadron. He was awarded the Military Cross in 1917 and promoted to captain, also serving with Nos. 94 and 88 Squadrons.

Following the war he returned to Australia and embarked on a career in civil aviation, working as a private pilot and for de Havilland Aircraft Company in the 1920s. He flew as a captain with Australian National Airways 1930–31. He also completed an engineering course and studied aerial navigation.

He served as second pilot or navigator on pioneering flights with Charles Kingsford Smith, Charles Ulm and others. During the 1935 Australia-New Zealand airmail flight with Charles Kingsford Smith, the starboard engine failed and the crew decided to return to Sydney, where the aircraft was buffeted by strong winds. It was decided that fuel and cargo must be jettisoned. During these conditions, Taylor made six journeys outside the cabin of the Southern Cross, climbing along the under-wing strut to drain the oil from the useless motor and transfer this to the overheating port motor. Taylor's actions, with the addition of Smith's flying skills, resulted in the plane making its way back to land safely. Taylor was later awarded the Empire Gallantry Medal for his actions, which was later exchanged for the George Cross.

In 1943 he was commissioned flying officer in the Royal Australian Air Force, transferring to Royal Air Force in 1944. During the Second World War Captain Taylor served as a ferry pilot with the Air Transport Auxiliary (ATA).

Taylor was knighted in 1954.

Guy Branch

Flying Officer Guy Rawstron Branch EGM (1913–1940) was a Royal Air Force fighter pilot, one of The Few. He was killed in action on 11 August 1940. Since his death occurred before the introduction of the George Cross his next-of-kin were not given the opportunity of exchanging the insignia of the Empire Gallantry Medal for the new award.

Henry Blogg

Henry George Blogg GC BEM (6 February 1876 – 13 June 1954) was a lifeboatman from Cromer on the north coast of Norfolk, England and the most decorated in RNLI history.

Blogg of the Cromer Lifeboat Station is referred to as "the greatest of the lifeboatmen". From the rescue of the crew of the Pyrin and then of half of the crew of the Fernebo in 1917, through to his near drowning in the service to the SS English Trader in 1941, he was awarded the gold medal of the Royal National Lifeboat Institution three times and the silver medal four times, the George Cross, the British Empire Medal, and a series of other awards.

List of Australian George Cross recipients

The George Cross (GC) is the highest civil decoration for heroism in the United Kingdom, a status it also holds, or has held, in several countries comprising the Commonwealth of Nations. The George Cross (Post-nominal letters "GC") is regarded as the civilian counterpart of the Victoria Cross, and is awarded to civilians for "acts of the greatest heroism" or to military personnel for actions that are not "in the face of the enemy" or for which purely military honours would not normally be granted. In an official radio broadcast on 23 September 1940, King George VI announced his decision to establish the awards of the GC and George Medal to recognise individual acts of bravery by the civilian population. The Royal Warrant that established the awards was published in the London Gazette on 31 January 1941. Australians received the GC under the Imperial honours system until 5 October 1992 when after more than two years of negotiations with Australian State governments, the Australian prime minister, Paul Keating, announced that Australia would make no further recommendations for British honours. Australians are today eligible for the Cross of Valour instituted by letters patent within the Commonwealth of Australia and its Territories on 14 February 1975 under the Australian honours system.Between the first award of the GC to an Australian in 1942 and the final bestowal to Constable Michael Kenneth Pratt in 1978, 14 Australians were directly decorated with the medal. Of these, nine were awarded to military personnel and five to civilians. Eight of the medals were awarded posthumously. At the time of the institution of the GC, living recipients of the Empire Gallantry Medal automatically became recipients of the new award, and were required to return their previous medal; two Australians became GC holders through this method. In 1971, the British Government announced that living recipients of the Albert Medal and Edward Medal would henceforth be recipients of the GC with the option of exchanging their insignia for that of the GC. The decision for such an action was the result of the decline in the status and significance of the two awards, leading recipients to feel they were not receiving the recognition they were due. Of the 27 Australian holders of the Albert Medal, six were living at the time and all opted to exchange their insignia for the GC. None of the eight Australians awarded the Edward Medal were alive in 1971, and thus no Australian became a recipient of the GC through this exchange. Including exchange awards, a total of 22 Australians were decorated with the GC.

Meritorious Service Medal (United Kingdom)

The Meritorious Service Medal (MSM) is a silver medal for distinguished service, or for gallantry, principally by non-commissioned officers of all of the British armed forces and of Queen Alexandra's Royal Naval Nursing Service.

Richard Frank Jolly

Commander Richard Frank Jolly EGM (1896–1939) was a British naval officer and recipient of the Empire Gallantry Medal.

Sandy Hodge (Royal Navy officer)

Captain Alexander Mitchell ("Sandy") Hodge (23 June 1916 - 4 January 1997) was a recipient of the Empire Gallantry Medal, later exchanged for the George Cross.

Sandy Hodge was born on 23 June 1916 at Blairgowrie in Scotland. Educated at Fettes College and the University of Edinburgh, he joined the Royal Navy Volunteer Reserve in 1938.He was awarded the Empire Gallantry Medal for bravery while a sub-lieutenant during a naval action on 14 March 1940 when a bomb exploded in a bomb room on HMS Eagle leaving 13 people dead and one injured: he played a major role in the rescue. The citation for the award read:

H.M. Ship in which Sub-Lieutenant Hodge was serving was badly damaged by an explosion in a bomb-room. The bomb-room was in darkness, full of heat and fumes, and smoke rising to the main deck suggested fire below.

Sub-Lieutenant Hodge had no knowledge of the behaviour of bombs in great heat or violent movement. When the explosion occurred he at once left the main deck and went into the bomb-room. He examined this and was able to rescue and send up several badly injured men. He found one of the wounded men crushed under two very heavy bombs, which could not be moved single-handed. Obtaining help, he dragged the wounded man clear, and sent him up.

Sub-Lieutenant Hodge did not go on deck until he had satisfied himself that no one was left alive below.

Throughout he showed outstanding courage, enterprise and resource, without any thought for himself. He saved all the lives he could though, for all he knew, further fatal explosions might have occurred at any moment.

After the war he became senior partner of Cowan & Stewart, a firm of lawyers. He also became chairman of Standard Life. He also served as Deputy Lieutenant of Edinburgh, as well as being a member of The Royal Company of Archers.

Theodore Bogdanovitch

Theodore Bogdanovitch GC (1899 – 20 April 1956) was a recipient of the Empire Gallantry Medal later converted into the George Cross for his actions during World War II.

Born in Strumica (nowadays located in Macedonia), he served with the Serbian Army in World War I where he was wounded. He joined with British forces as part of the Serbian Guard and later joined the Palestine Gendarmarie. After the force was split he joined the Transjordan Frontier Force. He was awarded the Empire Gallantry Medal for his actions in an Arab revolt in 1939 where he rallied his troops and personally killed the leader of the enemy forces.

He became a naturalized British citizen in 1944 and retired from the Transjordan Frontier Force in 1947 and came to Cyprus. He took a security job in a mining company. During the Cyprus Emergency, EOKA gunmen shot him dead.

Walter Anderson (RAF officer)

Walter Anderson (27 July 1890 – 11 May 1959) was a recipient of the George Cross and an officer in the Royal Air Force.

On 10 December 1928, Pilot Officer Hugh Constantine, while flying off Leysdown crashed into the sea, about 200 yards from the shore. In cold and rough conditions, Corporal McTeague and Flying Officer Anderson swam from the shore to Constantine who was in a state of collapse. Through their combined efforts McTeague and Anderson were able to bring Constantine back to the land.Both Anderson and McTeague were awarded the Empire Gallantry Medal, converted into the George Cross when that award was instituted in 1940.

Walter Arnold (GC)

Walter Arnold GC (30 August 1906 – 12 March 1988) was a recipient of the Empire Gallantry Medal (later exchanged for the George Cross) and a Royal Air Force airman.

On 20 June 1928, Leading Aircraftman Arnold was a passenger in an aircraft which crashed on landing at Digby Aerodrome. Arnold was able to free himself from the burning wreckage but he re-entered the flames in order to rescue the unconscious pilot. In doing so, Arnold sustained burns to his face, neck and hands and his actions undoubtedly saved the pilot's life.

William John Button

William John Button (baptised 7 January 1904 – 10 March 1969) was a British soldier and one of the last recipients of the Empire Gallantry Medal before this award was superseded by the George Cross.

In 1940, Button was a Lance-Sergeant in the Royal Engineers and was section leader of number 48 Bomb Disposal Section. On 18 August 1940 L/Sgt Button and his men were excavating an unexploded bomb which had been dropped some days earlier. While the section were digging the bomb exploded. Despite being injured himself Button's first concern was for his men and he ensured that the rest of the section were safe and accounted for before summoning help.Button was recommended for an award and the award of the Empire Gallantry Medal was published in the London Gazette on 17 September 1940. The citation read:

On the morning of 18th August, 1940, Lance-Sergeant Button was ordered with his section to continue the work of excavating an unexploded bomb. Although he knew well that, owing to the time already spent on excavation the bomb was liable to explode at any moment, he continued the work of his section with great coolness. The bomb eventually exploded, killing five sappers of

the Section, and throwing Lance-Sergeant Button a considerable distance. Although considerably shaken he behaved with great coolness, collected the rest of his Section at a safe distance, ascertained that none of them was injured, notified the First Aid Detachment, and reported to his Section Officer by telephone.

Button's award together with those awarded to fellow Royal Engineer Bomb Disposal personnel, Lt Edward Reynolds, 2nd Lt Ellis Talbot and 2nd Lt Wallace Andrews, were the last awards made of the Empire Gallantry Medal. On 24 September 1940 King George VI initiated the George Cross (GC) and the first awards of the GC were published in the London Gazette on 30 September 1940. Under the terms of the Royal Warrant for the GC, all EGMs were exchanged for a GC.

William Neil McKechnie

Group Captain William Neil McKechnie (27 August 1907 – 30 August 1944) was a pilot in the Royal Air Force who was awarded the Empire Gallantry Medal in 1929 and was killed in action over Germany in 1944.

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