b. 20/08/1910 Westminster, London. d. 15/12/2004 Clapham, London.
DATE AND PLACE OF GC ACTION: 17/09/1940 London.
Harry Errington GC was born on 20th August 1910 in Westminster, London, the son of Soloman and Bella Ehrengott who were Polish Jewish immigrants from Lublin. They had arrived in the UK in 1908 and anglicised their name to Errington when Harry was born. He had a brother and a sister called Freda. He was educated at the Westminster Jewish Free School and won a trade scholarship to train as an engraver. As a young man he belonged to West Central Jewish Lads’ Club where he excelled at athletics and gym. After the Second World War, he would run the Old Boys section of the Club.
His career as an engraver came to an end when the nitric acid used in the process affected his chest, and he went to train as a cutter with his uncle who was an established tailor with several contracts in Savile Row. He eventually took his own premises and remained in the business until retirement.
For the duration of the Second World War, he volunteered as a fireman with the Auxiliary Fire Service, working at his tailoring business in the day, and checking in for duty with the AFS at night.
On the night of 17th September 1940, he was resting with two other firemen in the basement of Jackson's Garage, which they were using as a makeshift shelter, when the building was hit by a high-explosive bomb. The blast blew Errington across the basement. Although dazed and injured, he made his way back to the other two auxiliaries, whom he found pinned down, flat on their backs, by debris. A fierce fire had broken out and the trapped firemen were in imminent danger of being burnt to death. The heat of the fire was so intense that Errington had to protect himself with a blanket. After working with his bare hands, he managed to release the injured firemen, John Hollingshead and John Terry, and dragged them from under the wreckage and away from the fire. All the while, burning debris was falling into the basement and there was considerable danger of a further collapse. Errington then carried Hollingshead up a narrow stone staircase that was partially blocked with debris into the courtyard, and then made his way through an adjoining building and into the street. Despite the appalling conditions he then returned and brought out John Terry. Both the rescued men survived.
Errington’s award of the GC was announced in the London Gazette on 8th August 1941. Harry had a lifelong interest in the game of basketball and coached an amateur team from Regent Street Polytechnic and was involved in the management of the basketball competition at the Olympic Games in London in 1948. In later years, he became the Vice-President of the UK Amateur Basketball Association, and later, a Life Vice-President. He was also Treasurer of the VC & GC Association from 1981 to 2004. He was also a brother of the Samson Masonic Lodge in London.
Errington ended his days at the Nightingale Home in Clapham, where he passed away on December 15th 2004, aged 94. He was buried in the Western Synagogue Cemetery, Cheshunt. In his final will and testament, Harry stipulated that his medal group be presented to the Jewish Military Museum in London.
LOCATION OF MEDAL: JEWISH MUSEUM, LONDON.
BURIAL PLACE: WESTERN SYNAGOGUE CEMETERY, CHESHUNT, HERTFORDSHIRE.
ROW P GRAVE 322.
Pictures of Errington's grave courtesy of Kevin Brazier
Harry Errington's medals and the reverse of his George Cross courtesy of the Jewish Military Museum, London.