b. 10/07/1911 Kingston, Surrey. d. 30/01/1972 Seaford, Sussex.
DATE AND PLACE OF GC ACTION: 09/09/1927 Regent’s Park, London.
Bertram Frederick Crosby EM/GC was born in Kingston upon Thames, Surrey on 10th July 1911, the son of Bertie Crosby and his wife Lilian Florence (nee Spring). He was one of five sons, with brothers called Charlie, James, Ernest and Alfred. He also had two sisters, Elsie and Lilian. He attended school in Kingston and his first job was with Film Waste Products.
At the age of just 16, on 9th September 1927, a fire broke out at the works in Redhill Street. A quantity of cinematograph film, which was being manipulated in a drying machine, ignited without warning, and the fire quickly spread to other film on adjacent benches. Crosby was passing through the drying room at the time, and at once ran to a door leading out into the yard, but on hearing a scream from near the drying machine he turned back and made his way towards the machine, the contents of which were burning fiercely. He was unable to see anyone and returned to the yard. Here he met the foreman and together, with Crosby leading, they re-entered the room. As they made their way in, Crosby saw a girl fall against one of the work tables; running to her, he half pulled and half dragged her towards the door. Outside they both fell. Crosby was stupified by the heat and the fumes, and did not recover full consciousness until he found himself out in the yard with his clothes alight. He extinguished the flames and was subsequently taken to hospital. The girl sadly died from her injuries.
Crosby was awarded the Edward Medal (London Gazette 15th May 1928), and due to his heroism, he was offered an apprenticeship with the motor manufacturer Jowett. During World War II, Jowett was a leading manufacturer of aeroplane parts and his job was as an overseer of the women making Spitfire wings, but this left him frustrated as he wanted to join the RAF. He applied several times but was turned down due to his job being seen as vital for the war effort.
Bertram married three times, firstly to Louisa Snowdon in 1933 with whom he had three children, Margaret, Bertram and Joan. Sadly, Louisa died young, and for a while Bertram was a single parent struggling to make ends meet. After the Second World War, he bought a small garage in Hampstead which he named Crosby Motor Services to help with the money situation.
In 1957, he married a widow, Annie Allen, who already had three children herself, David, Ronald and Jean. The marriage sadly was a short one, as Annie also passed away, but Bertram was helped by her children (who were much older than Bertram’s own children) with the business, while he brought up the three younger children. In 1964, Bertram married for a third time to Violet Patterson in Hampstead.
Bertram was invited to exchange his Edward Medal for a George Cross in 1971, which he duly accepted. Sadly, Bertram passed away on 30th January 1972 in Seaford, Sussex where he was now living due to his occupation with a computer manufacturing company. Violet attended his re-investiture on 30th November 1972 with his brother Alf. He was buried in West Hampstead Cemetery, London with his first wife Louisa. Alf Crosby had brought his coffin from Seaford. Bertie’s GC was sold at auction on 21st March 1995 at Glendinning’s to a private buyer.
LOCATION OF MEDAL: PRIVATELY HELD.
BURIAL PLACE: WEST HAMPSTEAD CEMETERY, LONDON.
Kevin Brazier – Images of Crosby GC’s Grave and Cemetery Map of West Hampstead Cemetery, London.