victoria_cross george cross




















b. 31/10/1900 Sutton Oak, St Helens, Lancashire. d. 24/10/1983 St Helens, Lancashire.


DATE AND PLACE OF GC ACTION: 27/04/1927 Ambala, India.


John Fairclough AM/GC was born in Sutton Oak, Lancashire on 31st October 1900. He was the son of William Henry Fairclough, a glassworks manager, and his wife, Mary Ann (nee Cross). There were eight sisters and one brother, besides himself. Educated locally, he went to work at the United Glass Works, St Helens, where his father was the manager, when he left school.


At the age of 19, he enlisted for 7 years into the Royal Garrison Artillery, the whole of which he spent in India – it is thought at Lucknow. He was awarded the Albert Medal for his actions on the night of the 27th April 1927 in Ambala, India.


Three Indian boys had gone to a godown in a lorry to get petrol, but they entered the building carrying a lantern. The naked light ignited the petrol vapour, and in a very short time the building was ablaze, trapping rhe boys. Fairclough, who happened to be passing, at once went to their aid. Despite the intense heat, he entered the building three times and rescued the boys. He was himself severely burned and unfortunately all the boys died later.


On his return to St Helens after his army service, he met Elizabeth Ann Barker and they married on Christmas Eve 1931. They went on to have three daughters. He returned to work at United Glass Works and worked there until his retirement in 1965. Sadly, he lost his sight shortly after his retirement. He had tried to enlist for the Second World War but was declared medically unfit.


When offered the opportunity to exchange his Albert Medal for a George Cross in 1971, he declined as he was not “one for a fuss”, and it was only after his death that his workmates learnt of his gallantry. He also declined membership of the VC/GC Association, although he did become a member of the Albert Medal Association. He died on 24th October 1983 aged 82 and was cremated at St Helens Crematorium, with his ashes scattered in the Garden of Remembrance. His medals are privately held.

























John Fairclough AM


“His Majesty The KING has been graciously pleased to award the Albert Medal to Gunner John Fairclough, Royal Artillery, in recognition of his gallantry in the following circumstances:-


On the night of April 27th, 1927, a serious fire occurred in a petrol godown in Ambala. Three Indian boys had gone to the godown in a lorry to get petrol and they entered the building carrying a lantern. The naked light ignited the petrol vapour with which in the hot weather the building was filled and in a very short time the whole building was ablaze. On the outbreak of the fire the lorry driver departed and before any organised aid could arise the boys were trapped in the burning building. Gunner Fairclough who happened to be walking alone near by at once went to their assistance. In spite of the fact that the heat from the burning building was so intense, as to keep onlookers at a considerable distance from the fire, he three times entered the building and rescued the three children. Gunner Fairclough was severely burned and unfortunately the three Indian boys later died.


Gunner Fairclough in entering on three separate occasions a burning building containing a highly inflammable and in certain circumstances a highly explosive substance, three times put his life in the gravest danger. To enter the building the first time was an act calling for great courage, but to enter it twice thereafter, knowing the full danger to be run, was an act of exceptional gallantry.”

8th May 1928 - transcribed by

Terry Hissey

fairclough am medal