John Fairclough GC (AM non-exchanger)

b. 31/10/1900 Sutton Oak, St Helens, Lancashire. d. 24/10/1983 St Helens, Lancashire.

DATE AND PLACE OF GC ACTION: 27/04/1927 Ambala, India.

John Fairclough AM/GC was born in Sutton Oak, Lancashire on 31st October 1900. He was the son of William Henry Fairclough, a glassworks manager, and his wife, Mary Ann (nee Cross). There were eight sisters and one brother, besides himself. Educated locally, he went to work at the United Glass Works, St Helens, where his father was the manager, when he left school.

John Fairclough GC

At the age of 19, he enlisted for 7 years into the Royal Garrison Artillery, the whole of which he spent in India – it is thought at Lucknow. He was awarded the Albert Medal for his actions on the night of the 27th April 1927 in Ambala, India.

Three Indian boys had gone to a godown in a lorry to get petrol, but they entered the building carrying a lantern. The naked light ignited the petrol vapour, and in a very short time the building was ablaze, trapping rhe boys. Fairclough, who happened to be passing, at once went to their aid. Despite the intense heat, he entered the building three times and rescued the boys. He was himself severely burned and unfortunately all the boys died later.

On his return to St Helens after his army service, he met Elizabeth Ann Barker and they married on Christmas Eve 1931. They went on to have three daughters. He returned to work at United Glass Works and worked there until his retirement in 1965. Sadly, he lost his sight shortly after his retirement. He had tried to enlist for the Second World War but was declared medically unfit.

When offered the opportunity to exchange his Albert Medal for a George Cross in 1971, he declined as he was not “one for a fuss”, and it was only after his death that his workmates learnt of his gallantry. He also declined membership of the VC/GC Association, although he did become a member of the Albert Medal Association. He died on 24th October 1983 aged 82 and was cremated at St Helens Crematorium, with his ashes scattered in the Garden of Remembrance. His medals are privately held.





Dix Noonan Webb – Image of the Fairclough Albert Medal.