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The Victoria Cross and George Cross Memorial

Wednesday, 7th May 2003

The Victoria Cross and George Cross Memorial

The Victoria Cross and George Cross Memorial in Westminster Abbey unveiled and dedicated at a Service on 14th May 2003.

Thirty four of the forty four living holders of the countries highest award for courage watched H.M. The Queen unveil the Victoria Cross and George Cross Memorial at the Abbey on Wednesday 14th May.

H.M. The Queen accompanied by H.R.H The Duke of Edinburgh also saw where the Memorial was to be placed in the Nave, close to the Great West Door. Many of the holders and their families also stopped to spend a moment or two in front of the Memorial before it was finally placed in position.

The Memorial ledger will be inset into the paving and is two foot square, depicting both Crosses with their coloured ribbands and the inscription:

Remember Their Valour and Gallantry

Holders of the Victoria Cross and George Cross processing the Memorial ledger

VCs

Flight Lieutenant John A. Cruickshank VC - Award 1 Sept. 1944 
Action: On 17/18 July 1944 Flying Officer Cruickshank (210 Squadron, RAFVR), on anti-submarine patrol in Northern waters, was attacking a U-boat in a hail of flak shells when one burst inside the aircraft, causing a great deal of damage. One member of the crew was killed and two wounded. Although he too had been hit - it was later found that he had 72 wounds - Flying Officer Cruickshank went in again, releasing his depth charges, which straddled the U-boat perfectly, and it sank. On the hazardous 5½ hour return journey the flying officer lost consciousness several times but insisted on helping to land the Catalina.

Lieutenant Commander Ian E. Fraser VC,DSC,RD* - Award 18 Dec 1920 
Action: On 31 July 1945 in the Jahore Straits, Singapore, Lieutenant Fraser (RNR), in command of HM Midget Submarine XE3, went to attack the Japanese cruiser Takao, which was located after a long and hazardous journey. Lieutenant Fraser slid the submarine under the target which lay over a depression in the sea bed, and his diver (the late J.J. (Mike) Magennis - also awarded the VC for this action) went out to fix the limpet mines to the bottom of the ship. The two side-charges then had to be released, but the starboard charge stuck and the diver climbed out again and after a nerve-wracking five minutes released the charge. XE3 then made for home.

Captain Rambahadur Limbu VC.MVO - (from Nepal) - Award 21 April 1966 
Action: On 21 November 1965 in Sarawak, Lance-Corporal Rambahadur Limbu (of 2nd Bn. 10th Princess Mary's Gurkha Rifles) was in an advance party of 16 Gurkhas when they encountered about 30 Indonesians holding a position on the top of a jungle-covered hill. The lance-corporal went forward with two men, but when they were only 10 yards from the machine-gun, the sentry opened fire, whereupon the NCO rushed forward and killed him with a grenade. The enemy then opened fire on the small party wounding two men with the lance-coproal who, under heavy fire, made two journeys into the open to drag his comrades to safety.

Keith Payne VC DSC (USA) - (from Australia) - Award 30 August 1969 
Action: On 24 May 1969, when serving with the Australian Training Team in Vietnam, Warrant Officer Class Two Payne showed outstanding courage and leadership in saving the lives of many of the soldiers under his command, including leading his men to safety under most difficult circumstances after an attack by the enemy in superior strength.

GCs

Derek G. Kinne GC - (lives USA) - Award 13 April 1954 
Action: Fusilier Kinne (1st Bn, The Royal Northumberland Fusiliers) was captured by the Chinese Communist forces on 25th April 1951. From then on he had only two objects in mind; firstly to escape; and secondly, to raise the morale of his fellow prisoners by his utter contempt for his Communist captors and his disregard for the brutal ill-treatment they meted out to their prisoners. Because he put his aims into practice (he escaped twice but was recaptured, and was frequently interrogated always refusing to give any information) he was kept in solitary confinement in no less than seven different places of imprisonment, under conditions of the most extreme degradation and increasing brutality. Every possible method, both physical and mental, was employed by his captors to break his spirit, a task which proved utterly beyond their powers. He was always determined to show that he would not be intimidated or cowed by brutal treatment at the hands of a barbarous enemy. His powers of resistance and his determination to oppose and fight the enemy to the maximum were beyond praise and his example was an inspiration to all ranks who came into contact with him. His last award of solitary confinement was on 2nd June 1953 when he was sentenced for defying Chinese orders and wearing a rosette in celebration of Coronation Day. He was eventually exchanged on 10th August 1953.

Anthony J. Gledhill GC - Award 23 May 1967 
Action: On 25th August 1966 Constable Gledhill (Metropolitan Police Force) and another police officer were on patrol in a police car in Deptford when they were sent after a car, containing five men, being driven recklessly against the one-way traffic. During a chase of five miles at speeds of up to 80 miles an hour, 15 shots were fired at the police car by the occupants of the bandit vehicle, who were using a sawn-off shot gun and a revolver. The escaping car crashed into a lorry and the five men abandoned it. A running fight ensured, in which the unarmed police officers bravely closed with the bandits, hung on to them and eventually overpowered one of the gunmen and held him until help arrived. Both Constable Gledhill and the other officer were injured and had to receive hospital treatment.

Alf R. Lowe GC - (lives N.Z.) - Award 8 Feb 1949
Action: At 2245 hours on 17th October, 1948, a liberty boat returning from Weymouth Pier to H.M.S. Illustrious in Portland Harbour overturned and sank 50 to 100 yards from the ship's stern, with 51 men on board. Boy Lowe was trapped under the canopy, struggled free and surfaced. He saw a life-belt a short distance from him which had been thrown from H.M.S. Illustrious and swam to it. He then removed his overcoat and shoes and swam towards the ship. When he was under the stern a line was thrown to him. At this moment he heard a faint cry of "Help" and on looking round saw that a Midshipman who was about ten yards away, was in great difficulty. He grabbed the line and swam to the Midshipman who was unconscious by the time he reached him. He endeavoured to turn him over and keep his head above water but found this impossible and still holding him was pulled to the ship's side. A fog buoy was then lowered and he managed to drag the Midshipman on to this and to hold on to him until a Petty Officer came down the rope to assist him. Together they secured the Midshipman who was then hoisted on board. The accident took place in eight fathoms of water, in a rough sea with a strong wind blowing. Although the Midshipman subsequently died, Boy Lowe acted with complete disregard for his own life in leaving his place of safety in an attempt to save him. His action in endangering his own life in this accident in which 29 men lost their lives was in accordance with the highest traditions of the Royal Navy.

Michael K. Pratt GC - (From Australia) - Award 4 Jul 1978 
Action: On the morning of 4th June 1976, Constable Pratt (Victoria Police, Melborne, Australia) who was off duty and unarmed, was driving in his car past a bank in Clifton Hill when he saw three masked men entering the bank. He noticed that they were carrying firearms and realised that they were about to commit an armed robbery. He immediately turned his car, switched up the lights and, sounding his horn, mounted the kerb and blocked the bank entrance, at the same time shouting to a passer-by to get police assistance. The raiders were taken by surprise, but one of them threatened the constable with a gun and told him to remove the car. He refused, removed the ignition key and armed himself with the handle of a car jack. The men then tried to leave the bank. Constable Pratt managed to grab one of them, and, during the violent struggle which ensued, the raider was knocked unconscious. A second gunman had now left the bank and was threatening to shoot the officer at close range. Constable Pratt was by this time grappling again with the first man who had recovered consciousness, and, while he was trying to retain his hold on his captive, he was shot and seriously wounded. He had displayed outstanding bravery and complete disregard for his own safety when, unarmed and single-handed, he faced and attempted to arrest three dangerous armed criminals.


Members attending the Service of Dedication at Westminster Abbey on 14th May 2003

ANNAND, Captain R.W., VC - U.K.

ARCHER, Colonel B.S.T., GC, OBE, ERD - U.K.

BAMFORD, J., GC - U.K.

BEATON, J.W., GC, CVO - U.K.

BRIDGE, Lt. Commander J., GC, GM* - U.K.

BUTSON, Lt. Col. A.R.C., GC, OMM, MA, CD, MD - Canada

CRUICKSHANK, Flt.Lt. J.A., VC - U.K.

ERRINGTON, H., GC - U.K.

FARROW, K., GC - U.K.

FLINTOFF, H.H., GC - U.K. 

FRASER, Lt. Cdr. I.E., VC, DSC ,JP - U.K. 

GLEDHILL, A.J., GC - U.K.

GREGSON, J.S., GC - New Zealand

KINNE, D.G., GC - U.S.A.

LACHHIMAN GURUNG, Havildar, VC - Nepal

LOWE, A.R., GC - New Zealand

LYNCH, J., GC, BEM - U.K.

NAUGHTON, F., GC - U.K.

PAYNE, K., VC, DSC - (USA) Australia

PRATT, M.K., GC - Australia

PURVES, Mrs. M., GC - U.K.

RAMBAHADUR LIMBU, Captain, VC, MVO - Nepal

RAWENG, Awang anak, GC - Sarawak

RILEY, G., GC - U.K.

SMITH, E.A., VC,CD - Canada

SPEAKMAN-PITTS, W., VC - South Africa

STEVENS, H.W., GC - U.K.

STYLES, Lt.Col. S.G., GC - U.K.

UMRAO SINGHSub. Major, VC - India

WALKER, C., GC U.K. WALTON, E.W.K., GC,DSC U.K.

WATKINS, The Rt. Hon. Sir Tasker, VC, GBE, DL U.K.

WILCOX, C., GC U.K.

WILSON, Lt. Col. E.C.T., VC U.K.

 

The work can be tough, but even the cold and rain don’t bother me as I enjoy it so much. I love every day that I spend at the Abbey – just being here makes me smile.

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Tim - Gardener

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