Source Information

Ancestry.com. UK, WWII Civil Defence Gallantry Awards, 1940-1949 [database on-line]. Provo, UT, USA: Ancestry.com Operations, Inc., 2015.
Original data: Inter-departmental Committee on Civil Defence Gallantry Awards: Minutes and Recommendations. Digitised images. Records of the Home Office, Ministry of Home Security, and related bodies, HO 250. The National Archives of the UK, Kew, Surrey, England.

About UK, WWII Civil Defence Gallantry Awards, 1940-1949

During World War II, up to 1.9 million men, women, and teens as young as 15 served as Civil Defence Volunteers in various capacities. They worked as air raid wardens, first aid workers, firewatchers, messengers, in rescue efforts, in rest centres, and emergency feeding programmes. Acts of bravery by civilians, police, and fire were rewarded with a variety of awards and medals.

This collection contains digitised copies of evidence submitted to the Inter-departmental Committee on Civil Defence Gallantry Awards and its recommendations to the Chatfield Committee. The evidence can include the name and age of the person being recommended, the date and details of his or her actions of merit, lists of supporting documentation and possibly copies, who made the recommendation (name or title), tenure, occupation, and the type of award received or denied.

The main civilian gallantry awards in the 19th and early 20th centuries were:

  • African Police Medal (later the Colonial Police Medal)
  • Albert Medal―for merchant seamen, the Royal Navy, and later firemen, miners, railwaymen, the army, and others
  • British Empire Medal―from 1922 for meritorious service; primarily for civilians but also for the military in certain circumstances
  • Constabulary Medal (Ireland)
  • Edward Medal―for miners, quarrymen, and later dock workers and railwaymen
  • Empire Gallantry Medal―from 1922 for meritorious service; primarily for civilians but also for the military in certain circumstances
  • George Cross―from 1940 for meritorious service, replacing the Empire Gallantry Medal and later the Edward Medal and Albert Medal; primarily for civilians but also for the military in certain circumstances
  • George Medal―from 1940 for meritorious service; primarily for civilians but also for the military in certain circumstances
  • King’s Medal for Service in the Cause of Freedom―British honours to foreigners for war service
  • King’s Police Medal (later the King’s Police and Fire Services Medal and now the Queen’s Police Medal)
  • Queen’s Gallantry Medal―from 1974 for meritorious service
  • Sea Gallantry Medal―for merchant seamen

Portions of this description are courtesy of The National Archives, Kew, England.