Stanley James Woodbridge GC (Direct Recipient)

b. 29/08/1921 Chelsea, London. d. 07/02/1945 Burma.

DATE AND PLACE OF GC ACTION: 31/01 – 07/02/1945 Burma.

Stanley James Woodbridge (1921-1945) was born on 29th August 1921 in Chelsea, London, one of three children of James Henry and May Ashman Woodbridge (nee Muggleton). He had an elder sister Gladys and younger brother Ralph. His father worked in a pawnbroker’s shop in Chelsea. In 1923, when Stan was just two, the family moved to Walthamstow, where James bought his own business selling second hand and antique furniture.

Stanley J Woodbridge GC

Stan attended Gamuel Road School in Walthamstow and then to Markhouse Road School. He left school at 14 and his father sent him to Clarke’s College to study business, and he gained employment as an office boy in the City of London with Standard Office Supplies where he stayed until he volunteered for the RAF in 1941. He was not immediately accepted, and worked for his father for six months. He was also a member of the Home Guard before the RAF.

After initial training in Blackpool, Stan became a wireless operator, and by the time he joined 159 Squadron he had been promoted to Flight Sergeant. The Squadron was posted to Air Command, South East Asia in February 1944.

Stan had married in 1942 to Florence Edith Carter. They had no children. On 31st January 1945, his Liberator bomber crashed in the jungles of Burma. Together with three other members of the crew he was captured by the Japanese. All four were subjected to torture in an attempt to obtain information. Eventually, the three other crew: Leslie Bellingham, Robert Snelling and John Woodage were dragged into the jungle and beheaded. As a wireless operator, the Japanese thought Woodbridge would be useful. Despite intense interrogation, he refused to give up any information. He was put to death and beheaded on 7th February 1945. Stan was buried twice, first in an unmarked grave, second with a simple cross, before he was finally interred at Rangoon War Cemetery.

The posthumous award of a George Cross for Stan Woodbridge appeared in the London Gazette on 24th September 1948. James Woodbridge, Stan’s father, was presented with the GC by King George VI at Buckingham Palace, though the medal was received by his widow Florence. His medals including his GC, 1939-45 Star, Burma Star, Defence Medal 1939-45 and War Medal 1939-45 are still owned by the Woodbridge family but are on loan to the RAF Museum, Hendon.