Ivor John Gillett GC (Direct Recipient)

b. 16/09/1928 Marlborough, Wiltshire. d. 26/03/1950 Seletar, Singapore.

DATE AND PLACE OF GC ACTION: 26/03/1950 Seletar, Singapore.

Ivor John Gillett (1928-1950) was bom on 16th September 1928 in Marlborough, Wiltshire, the son of William Edward and Alice Marion Gillett (nee Moss). William was an electrician and the family lived in a cottage called High Wall in the village of Manton outside Marlborough. Ivor attended Marlborough Grammar School, and soon after leaving school, he enlisted with the Royal Air Force.

Ivor J Gillett GC

Ivor held the rank of 3500148 Aircraftman 1st Class, and worked on the ground crew as a fitter armourer. He was posted to RAF Seletar, Singapore, where he mostly worked on Sunderland Flying Boats. On 26th March 1950 at Seletar, a Sunderland flying boat was being loaded with bombs at its moorings when there was an explosion. Surface rescue craft were quickly on the scene but the aircraft and a bomb-scow alongside sank rapidly and the survivors were blown into the water. A life-belt was thrown to Gillett from a rescue launch, but he was seen to throw it to a seriously wounded corporal near him who was in danger of drowning. In the confusion the rescuers had not been able to reach the corporal. Gillett was a great friend of his and knew he was not a strong swimmer. The life-belt kept him afloat until he was rescued unconscious from the water. In the meantime, Gillett disappeared; his body was washed up two days later. It was discovered that he had suffered superficial injuries and that death was due to the combined effects of the blast and drowning.

Ivor Gillett’s gallantry was rewarded with the award of a posthumous George Cross (London Gazette 3rd October 1950), and the medal was presented to his parents at an investiture at Buckingham Palace. Ivor was laid to rest in Kranji War Cemetery, Singapore. His medals including his GC, Defence Medal 1939-45, War Medal 1939-45, and General Service Medal 1918-62 with clasp “S.E.Asia 1945-1946” are privately held. He is commemorated on the Armed Forces Memorial at the National Memorial Arboretum, Alrewas, Staffordshire, and at St Clements Danes Church, Aldwych, London.