George Medal (GM)

The George Medal is awarded for conspicuous gallantry not in the presence of the enemy.


Without hesitation [Lieutenant Crampton] shouted to those near him to get down while keeping his foot pressed on the mine, which went off under it, but failed to rise in the air owing to the force of explosion being taken by his foot. Lieutenant Crampton’s foot was blown off but, by his gallant action, knowing full well what the result of this was likely to be, he undoubtedly saved the lives of those near him, all of whom escaped without injury by his quick decision and personal self-sacrifice.


The London Irish were in Kent throughout the Battle of Britain. Day after day fleets of German bombers and fighters came over. Vast patterns were woven high in the sky, and aircraft, Allied and German, circled in combat. Machines crashed in the battalion area almost daily and there was a constant hunt for German pilots who had baled-out. A prisoner was a great prize, and on one occasion a party of London Irishmen turned up after following the progress of the airman dangling from his parachute, only to see the German pilot disappearing on the pillion of an RASC motor-cycle, with the driver’s rifle slung on the back of his prisoner!

A special order was issued to units to try to capture intact a new type of enemy bomb-sight. A JU-88 was forced down on Graveney Marsh by two Spitfires, and a dozen or so men of A Company, armed only with rifles, made towards it. The German crew opened fire with their machine-guns, and the London Irish men organised themselves into a platoon and carried out a spirited attack, using fire with movement on the flat and open ground.

The Germans were wounded by their fire and they surrendered. When the riflemen reached the machine a time-bomb was discovered and successfully removed. As the prisoners were being taken away, one of them remarked that the aircraft would “go up any time now. Captain Cantopher, who had arrived on the scene, went back and searched the machine and found another time-bomb. The aircraft was thus saved from destruction and it proved to be a new type, only two weeks old. It provided the experts of the Air Ministry with highly valuable information. For his timely action Captain Cantopher was awarded the George Medal. The encounter with the Germans was believed to be the first battle with an enemy on British soil since the French landed at Fishguard in 1797, though historians record that on that occasion the invaders did not fire a shot. The precedent, therefore, may be far more distant.

In a message to Lieut-Colonel Macnamara, the Corps Commander expressed his delight at “the good tactical ability shown by a detachment of the London Irish Rifles, who, without any automatics and without loss to themselves, forced the surrender of a JU-88 armed with two automatics and secured this latest type of bomber intact.” The Divisional Commander also sent a message of congratulations.