Personal info

  • Name: John Ingram GOUGH
  • D.O.B: 14th Apr, 1898
  • D.O.A: 11th Sep, 1929
  • D.O.D: 23rd Mar, 1977
  • Award: Edward Medal translated to George Cross
  • Occupation at time of action: Stallman, Bretby Colliery, Swadlincote, South Derbyshire
  • Book: The Complete History - Volume 3
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Sources & Acknowledgements



The stresses of the First World War led to political revolution in much of Europe and, in extreme cases, social collapse. Even the victors, Britain and France, were not immune to the economic upheaval and labour unrest resulting from the transition from war to peace and the demobilization of hundreds of thousands of men. This made them extremely nervous of the rise of the Bolsheviks in Russia and they decided to send aid to the anti-Bolshevik forces. However, an Allied North Russia Expeditionary Force had to be withdrawn once it became clear that internal opposition to the Bolsheviks had been defeated. In Britain a postwar boom failed to prove long-lasting and in May 1926 there was a General Strike, triggered by a crisis in the Mining Industry. The Great Depression followed in 1929 and by 1931 Britain was forced to abandon the Gold Standard. In large parts of the country and especially in the traditional industries there was widespread unemployment throughout the 1930s, symbolized by the Jarrow Crusade of 1936. Conditions were much worse on the Continent and the interwar period witnessed the rise of the Dictators. The coming to power in Germany of Hitler in 1933 was to lead inexorably to the outbreak of the Second World War in 1939. In the years of increasingly uneasy peace between 1919 and September 1939 only eleven VCs were awarded and of these only one, the award to Captain G P Meynell in 1935, took place outside the period 1919-21. Of the eleven awards, five related to actions against the Bolsheviks, four to actions on the North-West Frontier of India and one to an an engagement in what is now Iraq. The remaining award was that in 1921 to the American Unknown Warrior. Of the Albert, Edward and Empire Gallantry Medals awarded in the same period, 142 recipients lived long enough for their awards to be converted to the GC. The geographical distribution of the actions that occasioned the awards is witness to the Global spread of the British Empire, which reached its widest extent after the First World War. However, some of the awards, for gallantry in India, Egypt and the Sudan, and Palestine, reflected both the stresses in maintaining that dominion and the duties it entailed. After service personnel and policemen, coal miners formed the largest group of recipients, demonstrating the central importance of coal to the British economy and the dangers inherent in securing it. Those who worked in coal and gold mines in India and Africa were also honoured. Both in the mines and in industry as a whole, the threat posed by poisonous gases led to many awards. New industries brought new hazards with them. Other dangers overcome were of a more basic sort. Awards were also made to those who, throughout the Empire, confronted mad elephants, rabid dogs and marauding sharks.


 On the 11th September, 1929, two men, Redfern and Hardwick, were filling coal with other men at the Bretby Colliery, South Derbyshire, and were warned to leave their work as a shot was about to be fired near the place where they were working. As they were doing so about 10 tons of roof fell and buried Redfern and Hardwick. Deputy Crofts and others at once tried, at great personal risk, to release the entrapped men. Although further falls were taking place, Crofts remained at work for twenty minutes trying to rescue Redfern until a further large fall of about 100 tons occurred and killed Redfern. Crofts was knocked down and bruised by this fall but he returned to the work of rescue and only gave up the attempt when he had crawled under the fall and had satisfied himself that Redfern was dead. While Crofts was trying to release Redfern, Gough and others were attempting to free Hardwick. At great personal risk they removed the fallen coal from Hardwick’s head and shoulders and placed over his body some covering timber which undoubtedly saved his life when the second fall occurred. During these operations the rescuers were several times compelled to take shelter from the falling material, and it was only after two hours work of an exceedingly dangerous nature that they succeeding in rescuing Hardwick alive and in recovering the body of Redfern. Although all the rescue party showed great bravery and disregard for their own safety Crofts and Gough were recognised by their comrades to have been the most prominent in risking their lives. 

(The London Gazette of 17 June 1930, Numb. 33616, p. 3810)

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