George Harold Eardley VC
Name: George Harold Eardley
Conflict: Second World War
Gazetted: January 2, 1945
George Harold Eardley VC
Place/date of birth: Congleton, Cheshire/May 6, 1912
Rank when awarded VC (and later highest rank): Sergeant (later Company Sergeant Major)
Date of bravery: October 16, 1944
London Gazette citation:
No. 6092111 Private (acting Sergeant) George Harold Eardley, The King’s Shropshire Light Infantry (Congleton, Cheshire).
In North-West Europe, on 16th October, 1944, during an attack on the wooded area East of Overloon, strong opposition was met from well sited defensive positions in orchards. The enemy were paratroops and well equipped with machine guns.
A Platoon of the King’s Shropshire Light Infantry was ordered to clear these orchards and so restore the momentum of the advance, but was halted some 80 yards from its objective by automatic fire from enemy machine gun posts. This fire was so heavy that it appeared impossible for any man to expose himself and remain unscathed.
Notwithstanding this, Sergeant Eardley, who had spotted one machine gun post, moved forward, firing his Sten gun, and killed the occupants of the post with a grenade. A second machine gun post beyond the first immediately opened up, spraying the area with fire. Sergeant Eardley, who was in a most exposed position, at once charged over 30 yards of open ground and silenced both the enemy gunners.
The attack was continued by the Platoon but was again held up by a third machine gun post, and a section sent in to dispose of it, was beaten back, losing four casualties. Sergeant Eardley, ordering the section he was with to lie down, then crawled forward alone and silenced the occupants of the post with a grenade.
The destruction of these three machine gun posts singlehanded by Sergeant Eardley, carried out under fire so heavy that it daunted those who were with him, enabled his Platoon to achieve its objective, and in so doing, ensured the success of the whole attack.
His outstanding initiative and magnificent bravery were the admiration of all who saw his gallant actions.
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Other decorations: MM
Place/date of death: Congleton, Cheshire/September 11, 1991
Grave/memorials: Macclesfield Crematorium, Cheshire
Origin of VC to the Lord Ashcroft collection: Purchased privately, 1992.
Current location of VC: Displayed on rotation at The Lord Ashcroft Gallery: Extraordinary Heroes exhibition, Imperial War Museum