Corporal George Henry Freeman BEM

Corporal George Henry Freeman was awarded the British Empire Medal (Military Division) for gallantry. As such it was the first award made to a Gunner for gallantry after the formation of the RAF Regiment 1 February 1942. His citation was published in the London Gazette dated 10 July 1942.

Sergeant George Freeman BEM
George Freeman as a Sergeant in Italy 1944. Likely a guard of honour or ceremonial parade, due to the white webbing and sling.

Corporal Freeman was NCO i/c a machine gun placement at Upper Culham Relief Landing Ground, when a Spitfire crashed just 400 yards from his position and burst into flames. Running into the flames and dragging the pilot clear, he was able to extinguish the pilots burning clothing with the assistance of a nursing orderly. The base records note that: “Cpl Freeman sustained burns to his face and hands.” His citation highlights his fine leadership and personal qualities: “He displayed courage and initiative of a high order.”

He went on to serve in North West Africa on Operation TORCH, he served with 2863 Squadron throughout the Italian Campaign, being promoted to temporary Sergeant in August 1944. His Service took him into Austria and then onto Palestine. He survived the war being discharged on 16 December 1945.