Second World War Plymouth Blitz Post Office Telephone Manager’s Office 21st April 1941 British Empire Medal pair awarded to Mr W.G. Searle, who was employed as a Fire-watcher when the city came under intense air attack during a period lasting two weeks in April 1941. He was at his duty in the Post Office Telephone Manager’s Office at Buckland Avenue, Plymouth when on 21st April 1941, during the early part of the air raid, Searle, at great personal risk, dealt effectively with a number of incendiaries and an outbreak of fire was effectively prev

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Second World War Plymouth Blitz Post Office Telephone Manager’s Office 21st April 1941 British Empire Medal pair awarded to Mr W.G. Searle, who was employed as a Fire-watcher when the city came under intense air attack during a period lasting two weeks in April 1941. He was at his duty in the Post Office Telephone Manager’s Office at Buckland Avenue, Plymouth when on 21st April 1941, during the early part of the air raid, Searle, at great personal risk, dealt effectively with a number of incendiaries and an outbreak of fire was effectively prevented. Heavy bombing followed and Searle worked throughout the night showing great courage and devotion to duty in dealing with many dangerous situations which arose. Later, the building was demolished by a direct hit, and Searle was buried for seven hours, two of his fellow fire-watchers being killed. Searle went on to work as an Executive Officer for the War Damage Commission in Plymouth.

British Empire Medal, GVI 1st type cypher; (WALTER GEORGE SEARLE); Defence Medal 1939-1945.

Condition: Nearly Extremely Fine.

Together with a typed citation for his British Empire Medal, indicating an immediate award.

Walter George Searle worked as a Fire-watcher in the Post Office Telephone Manager’s Office at Plymouth, and was present during the Plymouth Blitz. It was for his work in dealing with incendiaries in the early part of a raid on 21st April 1941 which led to his award of the British Empire Medal, as published in the London Gazette for 14th November 1941.

The citation reads as follows: ‘During the early part of an air raid, Mr. Searle, at great personal risk, dealt effectively with a number of incendiaries and an outbreak of fire was effectively prevented. Heavy bombing followed and Searle worked throughout the night showing great courage and devotion to duty in dealing with many dangerous situations which arose. Later, the building was demolished by a direct hit, and Mr. Searle was buried for seven hours, two of his fellow fire-watchers being killed.’

It would appear that Searle was working in the Post Office Telephone Manager’s Office at Buckland Avenue in Plymouth during the devastating five raids then rained bombs down on both Plymouth and Devonport over the period of a fortnight during April 1941. No less than five men working with the Post Office Telephone Manager’s Office at Plymouth were awarded the British Empire Medal for there gallantry during the Plymouth Blitz, as well as four being awarded the King’s Commendation for Brave Conduct, two posthumous.

The Plymouth Post Office Telephone Exchange building was the sole survivor of the heavy attacks but was still hit by incendiaries, and all surrounding buildings were destroyed, yet it remained standing surrounded by a scene of complete devastation. Two of his fellow fire-watchers were killed, and one of these is shown on the CWGC site as having died at Buckland Avenue. Those two killed, both women, a Miss Hilda May Bray, and a Miss Winifred Gent, were the recipient’s of the two posthumous awards of the King’s Commendation for Brave Conduct. Searle went on to work as an Executive Officer for the War Damage Commission in Plymouth.