Civilian honours in the Second World War

Roughly 6,500 names of UK men and women honoured with civilian gallantry awards have been added to TNA’s Discovery online catalogue. As well as listing names, it lists the associated towns, cities, and counties. This will help people researching bomb damage and explosions during the Second World War. As expected, there are many recommendations associated with events which took place in London and in other ports and cities targeted by the Germans, such as Manchester, Liverpool, Cardiff, Swansea, Coventry Hull, Birmingham, Bristol, Southampton and Plymouth.

In the catalogue there are 15 records for Great Yarmouth, including George Ferrow ( 1891-1960), a second hand book dealer in whose shop I occasionally browsed. He was awarded the British Empire Medal for rescuing “persons trapped in a cellar at Row Area adjoining Middlegate Street, Great Yarmouth [Suffolk!], on 8/9 July 1941.” Newspapers report he tunnelled for two hours under tons of debris and released two women and a youth.

The collection includes those honoured with two new awards, the George Cross and the George Medal, instituted in September 1940 to recognize the outstanding contribution made by civilians during the Battle of Britain and the Blitz. These awards were primarily aimed at those involved in civil defence, such as Air Raid Precautions officers, rescue party workers, fire fighters casualty and medical service workers as well as vital work carried out by people from many walks of life.

Read about the collection at and search the catalogue at

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