Thomas George Manwaring GC (EM exchanger)

b. 11/12/1916 Kenilworth, Warwickshire. d. 07/03/2000 Lydbrook, Gloucestershire.

DATE AND PLACE OF GC ACTION: 30/06/1949 Forest of Dean, Gloucestershire. 

Thomas George Manwaring (1916-2000), known as George, was born at 48 Clinton Lane, Kenilworth, Warwickshire on 11th December 1916. He was one of four boys born to Thomas and Jessie Manwaring (nee Taylor). His brothers were named Robert Owen, Douglas Edward and Frederick Walter. Little is known about George’s life, though he did become a career miner working at the Arthur & Edward Colliery (nicknamed “Waterloo”) in the Forest of Dean.

Thomas G Manwaring GC

In the summer of 1940, George married Joan Hathaway, and they went on to have a daughter. During the war, George didn’t have to serve as he was part of a “reserved” occupation. His life changed on 30th June 1949, when the mine was flooded by a sudden inrush of water.

Evacuation was ordered as soon as the water broke in, and the escape of men underground was greatly aided by Frank Bradley, a man of 63, who took charge of the man-riding trolleys which ran up and down the long, steep main road leading to the shaft. After many men had been helped in this way, another official advised Bradley to escape at once, telling him the rising flood would soon cut off the main shaft. Bradley, however, refused to leave the pit, saying that some men were still underground. He thereupon walked back into the mine. Bradley acted deliberately and without rashness, although he knew he was cut off from the main shaft he would have to stay below ground for a long time. Oswald Simmonds was then able to find out that two men, Albert Sims and Ernest Barnfield, were still left in the mine. He immediately left to help them. When he found them, they were with Thomas Manwaring, who had volunteered to stay back and help them. Manwaring and Simmonds managed to carry the men down the main shaft, meeting Bradley on the way. They struggled for 7 hours to find the second main shaft due to the first being flooded, and were hauled to safety.

As a result of their actions, Frank Bradley was awarded the Edward Medal in Silver, and Oswald Simmonds and George Manwaring were awarded the Edward Medal in Bronze on 1st November 1949. Due to the effects of the incident at the mine, George retired early from the industry, and lived quietly with his wife in the Forest of Dean.

In 1971, following a change in the Royal Warrant, George chose to exchange his Edward Medal for a George Cross. He donated his Edward Medal to the Gloucester City Museum, and attended a re-investiture at Buckingham Palace in 1975 to get his GC from Queen Elizabeth II. George died on 7th March 2000 in the Forest of Dean, and it was believed he was cremated at the Forest of Dean Crematorium near Cinderford. When I visited in 2017, the crematorium had no record of this event, though I have recently discovered that his ashes were interred in Lydbrook Churchyard, Gloucestershire. His widow, Joan, died in 2015, and her ashes were interred with him.