b. 30/09/1912 Helmsley, North Yorkshire. d. 14/12/1978 Northallerton, Yorkshire.
DATE AND PLACE OF GC ACTION: 04/02/1944 Catterick, Yorkshire.
John Weller (1889-1978) was born on 30th September 1912 in Helmsley, North Yorkshire, the son of William and Cecilia Victoria Weller (nee Frank). His father worked as a journeyman plasterer around the North Yorkshire region. After his father’s early death, his mother quickly re-married and had another son, Walter Brown. While John was sometimes called John Weller Brown, he never took his step-father’s name officially.
Little is known of John’s childhood and schooling, and the first information about his employment came in 1935, when he became a haulage contractor, shortly after marrying Rita Troman. He was a haulage contractor for over 20 years. On the outbreak of World War II, John didn’t enlist in the services as he was employed in a “reserved” occupation.
On 4th February 1944, in Catterick, North Yorkshire, he was working at the Catterick Bridge railhead, where he had just finished unloading ammunition from a lorry. He was in a traffic hut when there was an explosion some 30-40ft away; the hut collapsed, and he was thrown a considerable distance from it. The explosion was followed by extensive fires in the surrounding area, caused mainly by grenades and incendiary bombs scattered from nearby trucks. Mr Waller, though badly shaken, returned to the hut, which was on fire. He was joined by another man, who, injured himself, was able to assist him to rescue three men from the ruins and carry them to safety.
On 3rd June 1944, the London Gazette announced the award of the Edward Medal to John Weller Brown, though on 30th June 1944, a correction was published stating his name as John Weller. After the war, John returned to haulage until early retirement in 1955. In 1971, following the change in the Royal Warrant, John was offered the chance to exchange his Edward Medal for a George Cross. He chose to make the exchange. He then donated his Edward Medal to the town of Richmond, where he was living. It is now displayed by the Green Howards Museum.
John died on 14th December 1978 in Northallerton, Yorkshire, and was buried in Richmond Cemetery. His widow Rita held his GC and 1977 QEII Silver Jubilee Medal for many years after John’s death. Rita Weller died in December 2015 and is now buried with her husband. His medals are still held by the Weller family.
LOCATION OF MEDAL: PRIVATELY HELD.
BURIAL PLACE: RICHMOND CEMETERY, RICHMOND, YORKSHIRE.
Dimitrios Corcodilos – Image of the Weller GC Grave in Richmond Cemetery.
Richmond Town Council – Image of Weller’s Edward Medal.