Edwin Crossley GC (EGM exchanger)

b. 09/11/1884 Gillingham, Kent. d. 10/02/1976 Rochester, Kent.

DATE AND PLACE OF GC ACTION: 22/10/1935 Chatham, Kent.

Edwin Crossley (1884-1976) was born on the 9th November 1884 in Gillingham, Kent, one of three children born to William Henry Crossley, who hailed from Halifax, Yorkshire, and Mary Ann Bacon. They had married in June 1884 in Holy Trinity Church, Brompton, Kent. William Crossley was an Engine Room Artificer in the Royal Navy and was based at the HM Dockyard in Chatham. The family home was in Rickwell Avenue in Chatham, and Edwin’s siblings were Mary and Thomas.

George Cross

Little is known of Edwin’s schooling, though he followed in his father’s footsteps, and was appointed as a Shipwright at HM Dockyard, Chatham in 1914. On 28th October 1922, Edwin married a widow, Catherine Mary (Foote) Saywell at St John the Divine Church in Chatham. At the time of the marriage, Edwin’s occupation was listed as a draughtsman in the Construction Department of Chatham Dockyard (where his father also worked in the same office) possibly working on the design of submarines. Edwin and Catherine went on to have two children, Hazel Mary (born 1924) and Edwin Geoffrey (born 1929).

On 22nd October 1935, Edwin (who was now 51 years of age) was working as yard foreman at the Admiralty Dockyard when two workmen on board a ship descended into a compartment to recover tools and other items and were overcome by carbon monoxide gas. On hearing what had happened, Crossley seized a tackle and descended into the compartment with two skilled labourers. The rescuers were successful in securing one man and hoisting him through the hatchway above. They then secured the second man but, owing to the effects of the gas, could not help further and he was pulled up to safety by others on the deck above. Edwin even went home that evening to inform his wife that he was off to the RN Hospital as he had been gassed!

On 25th February 1936, it was announced in the London Gazette that Edwin had been awarded the Empire Gallantry Medal of the Civil Division. He received his EGM from the British Ambassador in Cairo in the presence of King Farouk of Egypt due to the fact he was on secondment there and unable to attend his investiture at Buckingham Palace. Just over four years later, following the creation of the George Cross, Edwin, like all other EGM holders, was able to exchange for the new decoration.

Following retirement from the HM Dockyard at Chatham, Edwin lived in the area for the rest of his life. He died on 10th February 1976, and was cremated at Medway Crematorium. His ashes were scattered there and there is sadly no memorial to him. His GC and 1953 QEII Coronation Medal are proudly held in the Crossley family.