Buckingham Covers - First Day Covers

Lieutennant Commander John Bridge GC GM Bar

 

Lieutenant Commander John Bridge GC, GM & bar (5th February 1915 - 14th December 2006) was a British bomb disposal expert of the Royal Navy Volunteer Reserve during the Second World War. Awarded the George Cross, he was the first person to be awarded a bar to the George Medal.

John Bridge was born on 5 February 1915 at Culcheth, near Warrington in Lancashire and attended Leigh Grammar School and the University of London to read Physics. After training as a teacher he took up a post at Firth Park Secondary School in Sheffield until he volunteered for the Navy in 1940.

Bridge received the George Medal for his leadership of a squad which defused a bomb with a delayed action fuse in September 1940. In March 1941, during which he defused 15 bombs, he received a King's Commendation for Brave Conduct for making safe a bomb which had fallen in the Naval dockyard at HMNB Devonport. In October 1941 he was awarded a bar to his George Medal after defusing a bomb in the docks in Falmouth.

He served as a naval bomb safety officer during the Normandy Landings of June 1944, defusing many bombs, mines and shells, before clearing mines in the river Scheldt and habour basins in September of that year. He was then posted back to England and promoted to Lieutenant Commander.

Bridge was awarded the George Cross in 1944 although the investiture did not take place until March 1945 for clearing enemy depth charges from Messina harbour in Sicily, preparing the way for the Allied invasion of Italy. He made 28 dives to defuse groups of booby trapped depth charges and rendered safe another 207 mines and depth charges, tethered at or below the waterline. His longest dive during the action lasted twenty hours.

The citation for his George Cross read: "For the most conspicuous and prolonged bravery and contempt of death in clearing Messina Harbour of depth charges. The recommending officer stated that he had never before had the fortune to be associated with such cool and sustained bravery as Lieutenant Bridge displayed during the 10 days of the operation." Bridge received the medal from King George VI at Buckingham Palace on March 16, 1945.

After his military service Bridge returned to his previous profession of teaching in 1946. He became director of education for Sunderland borough council in 1963 and retired in 1976. He wrote a volume of wartime memoirs entitled "Trip to Nijmegen".

John Bridge died on 14 December 2006, aged 91.

Collectables Signed By Lieutennant Commander John Bridge GC GM Bar