No, not the brother of Gerrards Cross.
Wiki tells us “The George Cross (GC) is the second highest award of the United Kingdom honours system. It is awarded “for acts of the greatest heroism or for most conspicuous courage in circumstance of extreme danger”, not in the presence of the enemy, to members of the British armed forces and to British civilians.”
These are recipients of the GC realted to the railways in Britain.
John Axon GC (4 December 1900 – 9 February 1957).
Born in in Stockport, John was a driver for British Railways and on the day in question John was working a freight train from from Stockport to Buxton in Derbyshire. The train was formed of an ex-LMS Stanier Class 8F consisting of over 30 wagons and a brake van. He has discovered a leaking brake en route to Buxton where a fitter attended. On the return working, the repaired failed and caused the cab to be filled with scaling hot steam, stopping John Axon and his Fireman from getting to the controls of the loco and stopping it.
Wiki describes the next part “At the time of the locomotive failure, Driver Axon could have jumped clear of the then slow-moving train. However, aware of the danger that his train posed to life further down the line, he stayed with his accelerating train despite the scalding steam on the footplate, trying to close the regulator in the hope that this would mitigate the effects of a collision. In the end, he only managed to partly close it, and screw down the engine’s tender brakes, but sadly this had negligible effect.”
The John’s train ploughed into another freight train, a Rowlsey to Stockport train, at Chapel-en-le-Frith killing John and the guard of that train.
He was posthumously awarded the George Cross on 7 May 1957, and his George Cross was donated to the National Railway Museum in 1978. John Axon GC was honoured by having his name on a British Rail Class 86 (86261) and sequentially on a Class 150 DMU (150273).
Benjamin Gimbert GC (6 February 1903 – 6 May 1976)
James William Nightall GC (20 May 1922 – 2 June 1944)
LNER Engine driver Benjamin Gimbert was awarded his honour for preventing a destruction of the town of Soham in Suffolk. Ben and his fireman James Nightall, were working an amunitions train during World War Two (WWII) when it caught fire. The citation in the London Gazette reads “As an ammunition train was pulling into a station in Cambridgeshire, the driver, Gimbert, discovered that the wagon next to the engine was on fire. He immediately drew Nightall’s attention to the fire and brought the train to a standstill. By the time the train had stopped the whole of the truck was enveloped in flames and, realising the danger, the driver instructed the fireman to try to uncouple the truck immediately behind the blazing vehicle. Without the slightest hesitation Nightall, although he knew that the truck contained explosives, uncoupled the vehicle and rejoined his driver on the footplate.
The blazing van was close to the station buildings and was obviously liable to endanger life in the village. The driver and fireman realised that it was essential to separate the truck from the remainder of the train and run it into the open. Driver Gimbert set the engine in motion and as he approached a signal box he warned the signalman to stop any trains which were likely to be involved and indicated what he intended to do. Almost immediately the vehicle blew up. Nightall was killed and Gimbert was very severely injured.
Gimbert and Nightall were fully aware of the contents of the wagon which was on fire and displayed outstanding courage and resource in endeavouring to isolate it. When they discovered that the wagon was on fire they could easily have left the train and sought shelter, but realising that if they did not remove the burning vehicle the whole of the train, which consisted of 51 wagons of explosives, would have blown up, they risked their lives in order to minimise the effect of the fire. There is no doubt that if the whole train had been involved, as it would have been but for the gallant action of the men concerned, there would have been serious loss of life and property.”
Gimbert and Nightall have both had locomotives named after them:
Gimbert: 47577, then transferred to 47574 and 66077.
Nightall: 47579 and 66079.
Wallace Arnold Oakes GC (23 April 1932 – 12 June 1965).
Known as Wally, he was a British Rail train driver in the 1960s he was taking a relief train when about seven miles from Crewe the locomotive, a BR Standard Class 7 steam locomotive, suffered a blow back from the smokebox that engulfed the cab with flames and smoke. The fireman, Gwilym Roberts, managed to get to the outside of the cab and put out his own clothes that were on fire, no mean feat as the loco was travelling at about sixty mph. Wally managed to battle through and apply the brakes. Gwilym found Wally on the other side of the loco on the trackside with 80% burns to his body. Sadly he died a week after the incident.
BR Electric class 86 (86260) was named in his honour at Euston on February 1981.
James Stirratt Topping Kennedy GC (1930 – 21 December 1973).
Kennedy was a security guard in Glasgow at the British Rail Engineering Works (BREL) who was murdered whilst trying to prevent an armed robbery of the wages at the works. “Kennedy, who was the security officer on duty at the main gate, heard the shots and knowing that the criminals were armed stood in the gateway in an attempt to prevent their escape. He tackled the first man and prevented him leaving the yard. The intruder was then released by his companions who attacked Kennedy and stunned him by hitting him about the head with the barrels of their shotguns. At this point the raiders climbed into a van, which one of the gang had driven into position. Kennedy recovered consciousness and undeterred by his injuries, made another attempt to prevent the criminals’ escape by running towards the front passenger door of the van. He was killed by two shots fired from the front passenger seat.
It was subsequently revealed that, in addition to the fatal injuries Kennedy had received two deeply lacerated wounds to the skull during the earlier attack.”
BR Class 86 (86242), was named in his honour at Glasgow Central in November 1981.
Norman Tunna GC (29 April 1908 – 4 December 1970).
GWR Shunter Norman Tunna worked at Birkenhead. On 26 September 1940, when the German Air Force carried out a large bombing raid on Merseyside, in the Morpeth dock area of Birkenhead, the scores of railway lines were crowded with trains. These air raids resulted in a number of serious fires involving railway and dock warehouse properties. A large number of incendiary bombs fell on and about the goods station and sidings. Amongst the wagons in the yards was a train loaded with ammunition and various trucks containing canned petrol. Most of the enemy incendiaries had been extinguished by the prompt action of the staff on duty, but a serious fire developed from incendiaries falling in one section of the station.
During the course of these events, Norman Tunna discovered two incendiary bombs burning in a sheeted open wagon, which contained 250lb bombs. With a disregard for his own safety, Tunna removed the sheet and extinguished the incendiary bombs. He then removed the extinguished bombs from the wagon.
Norman was honoured by the naming of a BR class 47 (47471) at Liverpool Lime Street.
R.I.P. to six brave railwaymen.