b. 28/05/1906 Maidenhead, Berkshire. d. 29/11/1994 Chichester, Sussex.
DATE AND PLACE OF GC ACTION: 17/10/1940 London.
Jack Maynard Cholmondeley Easton (1906-1994) was born on 28th May 1906 in Maidenhead, Berkshire, the son of Percy and Kathleen Easton. He was educated at Brighton College and Pangborne Nautical College. He then trained as a solicitor and became a partner in his grandfather’s law firm William Easton & Sons. He was also a keen amateur sailor and achieved his Master’s Ticket, which, when he volunteered for the Royal Naval Volunteer Reserve, he felt would be advantageous.
He married Felicity Field in 1929, and they went on to have a daughter, Juliet. Sadly Felicity died young, and he met and lived with Merriel Day for a number of years. He would later marry his cousin, Joan Bartman in 1978.
On the outbreak of World War II, he did indeed volunteer for the RNVR and his first training at HMS King Alfred in the spring of 1940. One day, volunteers were called to defuse, or dispose of, 40 mines, and he was pushed forward. On 17th October 1940, a mine fell in Hoxton, East London, but failed to explode. A large area had to be evacuated. Easton, together with Able Seaman Bennett Southwell GC, set off down the empty street to deal with it. The mine had crashed through a roof and was hanging by its parachute only 6 inches from the floor, swaying about. The room was very dark and the door could not be opened more than a foot for fear of distrubing the bomb. Easton decided to dismantle the bomb where it was, and told Southwell to stay in the passage outside and hand him the necessary tools. They started work but had only been at it for about a minute when the bomb slipped and there was the sound of falling brickwork as the chimney pot overhead collapsed. Easton heard the whirr of the mechanism and knew that he had exactly 12 seconds in which to get clear. He shouted to Southwell to run and ran himself, reaching a surface air raid shelter just as the bomb exploded. When Easton recovered consciousness, he was buried deep beneath the debris, his back broken. Southwell, who had run further down the street to where he thought it was safe, was killed by the explosion, which destroyed 6 streets. It was 6 weeks before his body was recovered from the debris.
As a result of his action, Jack had a fractured skull, broken pelvis and had broken both legs. While he was in hospital, he was told to listen to the 6pm news. On 23rd January 1941, he would listen in to the announcement of the award of his George Cross. Bennett Southwell would also be awarded a posthumous GC. After making a good recovery over the next six months, he left hospital albeit having also lost all his hair. He spent the rest of the war in sea commands, skippering armed trawlers and minesweepers.
After the war, he returned to William Easton & Sons, and one of their major clients was the head of L’Oreal, and he helped Jack with his alopecia. Jack remained working for the family law firm until the 1970s, when he retired with Joan to Hampshire, and later Sussex.
Jack died on 29th November 1994, aged 88 in Chichester, Sussex, and was cremated at Chichester Crematorium and his ashes were scattered in the Garden of Remembrance. Jack’s medals including his GC, 1939-45 Star, Atlantic Star, Defence Medal 1939-45, War Medal 1939-45, 1953 QEII Coronation Medal and 1977 QEII Silver Jubilee Medal are proudly held by the Easton family.
LOCATION OF MEDAL: HELD BY RECIPIENT’S FAMILY.
BURIAL PLACE: CHICHESTER CREMATORIUM, CHICHESTER, SUSSEX.
Richard Yielding – Image of Jack Easton GC at the 1968 VCGCA Reunion.