Geoffrey Gledhill Turner GC GM (Direct Recipient)

b. 10/09/1903 Sheffield, Yorkshire. d. 09/02/1959 Halstead, Essex.

DATE AND PLACE OF GC ACTION: 21/12/1940 Liverpool.

Geoffrey Gledhill Turner (1903-1959) was born on the 10th September 1903 in Sheffield, Yorkshire, the son of Charles and Kathleen Turner (nee Gledhill). His father was a Chartered Accountant and he had a brother, Hugh. The family lived at 9 Victoria Road, Ecclesall Bierlow. Geoffrey was educated at King Edward VII School, Sheffield from 1911-1921, before leaving to join his father’s accountancy firm. In 1936, he married Jane Webber, but the union soon ended in divorce.

Geoffrey G Turner

On the outbreak of World War II, he tried to join the Army, but was discharged from the Royal Artillery with a bone complaint. Undeterred, he then joined the Royal Naval Volunteer Reserve. He quickly obtained a commission as a Temporary Sub Lieutenant (Special Branch) at Glendower at Pwiheli, North Wales. He then volunteered for mine sweeping duties both at home and in the Mediterranean.

On 21st December 1940 Geoffrey was in Liverpool when a bomb fell in Great Howard Street. It was partly suspended by its parachute, with its nose on the ground floor and the fuse hidden. Great care had to be taken in handling this mine, which weighed nearly a ton. Turner was successful in removing the fuse before it could explode. Then he had to deal with another bomb which fell in Cambridge Street, Seaforth. The bomb itself was badly damaged, and it was essential that it should be cleared as soon as possible as the Liverpool-Southport railway line ran nearby. Turner rigged a wire and moved the bomb as to expose the fuse and fit a safety gag, but the fuse was damaged and only the top half came away, leaving the clockwork and operating the mechanism in the bomb. He then tried to pick out the remains of the fuse with his fingers. He had nearly managed this when the clock began ticking and he retired quickly. There was no explosion, so he waited 5 minutes and returned to finish the work. As soon as he touched it, the clock began again and it exploded, wounding Turner.

On the 24th June 1941, the London Gazette announced the award of the George Cross to Geoffrey Turner. On the 4th-5th January 1943 at Hastings, Sussex, Geoffrey was involved in recovering a bomb from a smouldering enemy plane which had crashed. For this action, Geoffrey was awarded the George Medal (London Gazette 18th May 1943), one of only eight men to be holders of both the GC and GM. Geoffrey then joined the frogmen’s branch of the Royal Navy under Commander “Buster” Crabbe but for medical reasons soon moved to the Marine Commando and the invasion of Normandy in June 1944. He landed on D-Day + 1.

In July 1945 he took command of HMS Mount Stewart, a shore establishment at Teignmouth, Devon. After the war, he decided not to accept a commission into the Royal Navy and returned to civilian life. In 1946, he re-married to Margaret Benson, a fluent German speaker, who had worked at Bletchley Park during the war. Geoffrey founded the company Powell Turner in Oldham, Lancashire and in 1954 the firm moved to Long Melford in East Anglia, and he and his wife settled in Stambourne. From 1956 until his death, he served on the Halstead Rural District Council.

Geoffrey passed away on 9th February 1959 in Stambourne and he was cremated at Cambridge Crematorium. His medals including his GC, GM, War Medal 1939-45 with Mentioned in Despatches oakleaf and 1953 QEII Coronation Medal are privately held.