victoria_cross george cross



















henderson g c





























henderson g c











b. 02/10/1890 Cramlington, Northumberland. d. 23/02/1974 Newcastle upon Tyne.


DATE AND PLACE OF GC ACTION: 29/12/1917 Trinidad.


John George Stanners (1890-1974) was born on 2nd October 1890 in Cramlington, Northumberland. He was the eldest son of John and Eliizabeth Stanners (nee Todd). He had three sisters and a brother and the family lived in Springwell, Chester-le-Street. His father worked as a Traction Engine Driver. Little else is known about John’s early life prior to the outbreak of World War I. Following the start of the War, John enlisted with the Royal Navy and became a Deckhand. In the summer of 1917, he married Ada Oliver, and it is believed they had no children. After serving aboard Victory I, he transferred to the Royal Naval Reserve and began life aboard Motor Launch 289.


On the 29th December 1917, John was serving off the coast of Port of Spain, Trinidad, when the cotton waste stored in the magazine of Motor Launch 289 caught fire. On discovering the fire, Stanners, without thought, went down into the magazine and brought up a quantity of burning waste. Leading Deckhand Rupert Bugg, who was on board Motor Launch 285, which was alongside Motor Launch 289 smelt burning, and on seeing Stanners with the burning cotton waste went to the magazine and extinguished the remainder of the fire.


Both Stanners and Bugg were awarded the Albert Medal for their actions (London Gazette 21st May 1918). Following demobilisation at the end of the Great War, little is known about John’s post-war life, though he did return to Ada in the North East. Ada died in 1959, and in 1971, following the change in the Royal Warrant, John chose not to exchange his Albert Medal for a George Cross. Sadly, Rupert Walker Bugg had died on 22nd March 1919 and is buried in All Saints Churchyard, Holbrook in Suffolk with a Commonwealth War Graves Commission headstone, and therefore didn’t qualify for the exchange.


John Stanners died in Newcastle-upon-Tyne on 23rd February 1974, and sadly his burial location is unknown at this time. His Albert Medal was sold at auction and is in a private collection.






























John George Stanners


stanners royal naval volunteer reserve stanners medal

Stanners' original Albert Medal

stanners reverse

The reverse of the medal

“The KING has been pleased to award the Decoration of the Albert Medal to John George Stanners, Deckhand, R.N.R., O.N. 17562 D.A., and to Rupert Walter Bugg, Leading Deckhand, R.N.R., O.N. 5046 S.D., in recognition of their gallantry in the following circumstances :-


On the 29th December, 1917, some cotton waste, which had been stored in a wooden cupboard in the Magazine of H.M. Motor Launch No. 289, caught fire from an unknown cause. On the fire being discovered by the smell of burning and by the issue of smoke from the Magazine hatch, when opened, Deckhand Stanners, without hesitation, went down into the Magazine and brought up a quantity of the burning waste.


Leading Deckhand Bugg, who was in Motor Launch No. 285, alongside No. 289, smelt something burning, and on observing Deckhand Stanners coming up from the Magazine with burning material, immediately went down and extinguished the remainder of the ignited cotton waste.


The promptitude of action and the high courage shown by these men in the face of very grave danger averted a serious fire, and in all probability saved both Motor Launches and the lives of those on board.”

16th May 1918

transcribed by Terry Hissey