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British Commonwealth Gallantry, Meritorious and Distinguished Service Awards - The George Cross and George Medal

The George Cross

The George Cross obverse view

The George Medal

The George Medal obverse view

About the George Cross and the George Medal

Prior to the institution of the New Zealand Gallantry and Bravery awards in 1999, the George Cross (GC) was the highest gallantry award available to civilians and ranked immediately after the Victoria Cross. It was also awarded to military personnel for acts of outstanding courage while not in action with an enemy. The George Cross was instituted in 1940 replacing the Empire Gallantry Medal and (in 1971) the Albert and Edward Medals. Recipients of these older gallantry medals were able to exchange their award for a George Cross if they wished.

Three New Zealanders have been posthumous recipients of the George Cross: Sergeant Stewart Graeme Guthrie (of the New Zealand Police); Sergeant Ken Hudson (of the New Zealand Army); and Lance Corporal David Russell (of the New Zealand Army).

A George Cross was awarded to the Island of Malta for the sustained heroism and gallantry of its citizens during the Second World War. The George Medal was awarded to civilians for acts of bravery which did not merit the award of the George Cross.

In 1999 the George Cross was replaced in New Zealand by the New Zealand Cross, and the George Medal was replaced in New Zealand by the New Zealand Bravery Star.

Royal Warrant

Many British awards have a considerable history and the Royal Warrants which instituted them have been subject to significant amendment during their currency. More information on the Royal Warrants and criteria for the British Gallantry, Meritorious and Distinguished Service Awards can be found in the publications listed in the Bibliography. A publication titled ‘British Gallantry Awards' by P.E. Abbott and J.M.E. Tamplin is particularly recommended.


Most Gallantry, Meritorious and Distinguished Service Awards do not have separate Regulations. Instructions for their administration are usually included in the Royal Warrant.

Clasps and Bars

Bars were awarded for subsequent gallant and brave acts.

Order of Wear

The position of the George Cross and the George Medal in the Wearing of Medals in New Zealand Table can be viewed here.

New Zealanders who have been Posthumously Awarded the George Cross

Sergeant Stewart Graeme Guthrie, New Zealand Police - date of act: 13 November 1990; year of award: 1992

Sergeant Ken Hudson, New Zealand Army

Lance Corporal David Russell, New Zealand Army