The highest gallantry award for civilians, the GC is also awarded to military personnel for those acts for which military honours would not normally granted, such as acts of gallantry not in the presence of the enemy.
A plain, bordered cross in silver. The obverse of the medal (shown here) bears in the centre a circular medallion depicting St. George and the Dragon surrounded by the words 'FOR GALLANTRY'. In the angle of each limb of the cross is the Royal Cypher 'GVI'. The reverse is plain in design and bears the rank, name and service, or description, if appropriate, of the recipient. The date of notification of the award in the London Gazette, rather than the date of the act of gallantry, is also engraved.
A silver bar ornamented with laurels in the same design as the suspender may be issued to GC holders performing a further act of such bravery which would have merited award of the GC, though none have been awarded to date.
Dark blue. When the ribbon alone is worn a replica of the cross in miniature is affixed to the centre of the ribbon.
The highest gallantry award for civilians, the GC is also awarded to military personnel for those acts for which military honours would not normally granted, such as acts of gallantry not in presence of the enemy.
As Britain came under intense air attack during the summer of 1940, Winston Churchill thought that a new medal to recognise the many acts of gallantry being performed by civilians should be introduced. Although awards to recognise civilian gallantry not in presence of the enemy already existed, none held the prestige of the equivalent award for gallantry in battle, the Victoria Cross.
The King agreed and in January 1941 the Warrant relating to award of the George Cross was published. Those holders of the Empire Gallantry Medal, Albert Medal and the Edward Medal which had been awarded prior to the introduction of the GC, were all invited to exchange their awards for the GC.
To date, 157 GCs have been awarded directly, including four to women, with 47 of those awarded since 1947. The three most recent recipients of the GC have been Army personnel serving in Afghanistan and Iraq. One was awarded posthumously for gallantry displayed both before and after sustaining mortal injuries when entering a minefield in Afghanistan. The other two were awarded for service in Iraq, for gallantry displayed in a 'friendly-fire' incident and for gallantry displayed after receiving severe injuries caused by an Improvised Explosive Device. All were hugely courageous acts, although not in actual presence of the enemy, and therefore were successfully considered for award of the GC.