Horace James Cannon GC (AM exchanger)

b. 26/07/1895 Bradford, Yorkshire. d. 21/09/1975 Bradford, Yorkshire.

DATE AND PLACE OF GC ACTION: 26/01/1918 Spitalgate, Grantham, Lincs.

Horace James Cannon (1895-1975) was born on 26th July 1895 in Bradford, West Yorkshire, one of five children born to John and Zillah Cannon (nee Greenwood). John Cannon was a career soldier, first enlisting in 1873, and over a period of a remarkable 43 years, served in three different campaigns before volunteering again for service in the Great War. During that war, he served as a Sergeant, finally retiring in 1918, at the age of 63! Horace’s only brother, Herbert, was killed due to gas poisoning during the war. His three sisters were Doris, Nellie and Josephine, though sadly Josephine died young.

Horace J Cannon GC

Horace attended St Bede’s Roman Catholic Grammar School in Bradford, before volunteering for service in 1914. He joined the Royal Flying Corps, possibly due to his engineering background, and served in No 5 Training Squadron, remaining in the RFC for the duration of the war, attaining the rank of Flight Sergeant.

Horace married Emily Throp and they went on to have four children, Brian, John, Josephine and Anne. Both Brian and John would serve in the RAF, following in their father’s footsteps. On 26th January 1918, at Spitalgate, near Grantham in Lincolnshire, an aircraft lost control and crashed, bursting into flames. Cannon and Flight Sergeant Albert Warne went to the rescue of the pilot at great personal risk to themselves, as one petrol tank blew up and another was on fire; moreover the aircraft was carrying a belt of live ammunition, which they dragged from the wreckage. They manage to get the pilot out, who was strapped into the plane, but he died shortly afterwards from his injuries.

On 26th April 1918, both Horace Cannon and Albert Warne were awarded the Albert Medal in Bronze. Sadly, Warne was killed soon afterwards in an accident when he was struck by an aircraft propeller when it was starting up. After the war, Horace ran his own business called H Cannon Ltd, Motor Engineers and Car Sales. He enjoyed rallying and was driving until shortly before his 80th birthday.

Recalled following the outbreak of World War II, he served in Home Guard in Bradford, where he did fire duty. Coincidentally, and by chance, his neighbour in Athol Road, Bradford, Nanette Hanson was also awarded the Albert Medal in 1967 for saving the lives of 11 children when a soldier ran amok finally shooting her in the back. Tragically, she was killed meaning the award was posthumous.

Following the change in the Royal Warrant in 1971, Horace chose to exchange his Albert Medal for a George Cross. He donated his Albert Medal to the RAF Museum at Hendon, and on 18th July 1972, along with his daughter, Josephine, he attended his investiture at Buckingham Palace. Horace died peacefully on 21st September 1975 aged 80 in Bradford, and was cremated at Nab Wood Crematorium, where his ashes were scattered in the Garden of Remembrance. Following his death, his medals including the GC, 1914 Star, British War Medal 1914-20, Victory Medal 1914-19 and Defence Medal 1939-45 were donated to the RAF Museum, Hendon.