The George Cross is the equivalent of the Victoria Cross, though awarded for bravery and dedication when not directly facing the enemy in war. It was created during the early stages of the Second World War, when it was felt that there was a pressing need to recognise acts of civilian bravery.
Corporal James Scully was only the second man to be awarded one, and his medal set is now going under the hammer at Dix Noonan Webb.
Scully was part of the Royal Pioneer Corps, and called into attention following a massive raid of the Luftwaffe in Liverpool in which in total 58 tonnes of high explosives were dropped. One of the houses blasted had a man and woman trapped inside it.
Scully located them and with great difficulty managed to penetrate the debris and get to where they were buried. His commander, Lieutenant Chittenden, followed him.
Wood and tools were brought to support a means of escape, and a long plank was used to support much of the weight, but there were further falls, and Scully had to support the plank himself to prevent collapse. He stayed in place, though gradually forced down by the increasing weight.
The rescue team worked frantically at the problem, but it was still seven hours before Scully and the rest could make their exit, by which time Chittenden was having to hold his head out of the debris to prevent suffocation.
Scully could have left before that time, but only with a high risk of debris killing the rest. He was awarded the George Cross by George VI himself, who remarked that it was only the second to be presented, whilst Chittenden received the George medal.
The whole story was depicted in The Hornet (a boy's comic book) in 1967 - a copy of which is included in the sale. Scully's George Cross (in its case of issue), 1939-45 War Medal and Coronation Medal are expected to achieve £40,000-50,000 (up to $82,000) in Dix Noonan Webb's July 5 auction.
Needless to say, the exceptionally rare nature and back story of this item will make it a very strong alternative investment.
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