Albert Matthew “Matt” Osborne GC (Direct Recipient)

b. 19/10/1906 Cleethorpes, Lincolnshire. d. 02/04/1942 Malta.

DATE AND PLACE OF GC ACTION: 11/1941 – 01/04/1942 Malta.

Albert Matthew “Matt” Osborne (1906-1942) was born in Cleethorpes, Lincolnshire on 19th October 1906, the only son of Albert Edward and Annie Margaret Osborne (nee Matthews). His mother originally came from Cleethorpes. His father was a fisherman until a bad accident at sea, saw him decide to buy and run a teashop in Cleethorpes. He later moved the family to Blackpool, Lancashire, where he ran a nightclub. It is believed that Matt, as he became known, went to boarding school there.

Albert M “Matt” Osborne GC

Little is known of Matt’s working life following schooling until he enlisted with the Royal Air Force in July 1940. Following his basic training he became a Leading Aircraftman, and was posted to Malta. What is unusual about Matt’s actions which led to the award of the George Cross is the number of separate incidents which were included in his citation.

During the period of November 1941 to the 1st April 1942, during a long period of air attacks on the island of Malta, he was always at first hand to deal with emergencies. The following are examples of his bravery: (a) put out a burning aircraft during a heavy bombing raid, (b) attempted to save a burning aircraft, (c) assisted in saving a burning aircraft and putting out the fire, (d) saved an aircraft from destruction fby fire and (e) attempted for 6 hours to extricate airmen from a bombed shelter, despite continued bombing and falling stonework. On one day alone, he fought fires in two aircraft, saving one of them; he freed the parachute of a burning flare that was caught on the aircraft, enabling the pilot to taxi clear, and he checked the fire in a burning aircraft.

On 1st April 1942 he was leafing a party to extinguish the flames of a burning aircraft when one of the petrol tanks exploded, injuring him. On recovering, he returned to fight the fire and was killed by the the explosion of an air vessel while attempting to pour water over two torpedoes that were in danger of exploding.

Matt’s body was recovered and he was laid to rest in Capuccini Naval Cemetery, Malta in the Protestant Section. On 7th July 1942, the London Gazette published the detailed citation of a posthumous George Cross for Matt Osborne. His name is on the Cleethorpes War Memorial and he is also on the RAF Memorial in St Clement Danes Church in Aldwych, London. His medal group is privately held.