medal and ribbon
silver medal, 36mm diameter. Obverse design (by Mr Percy Metcalf): the crowned head of King George VI, facing left with the legend 'GEORGIVS VI D:G:BR:OMN:REX ET INDIAE IMP:'. Reverse design: the figure of St. George, a glory around his head, on horseback facing right, driving his lance into the body of a writhing dragon. The combat is depicted on the coast of England. In the distance, forming the horizon line, the sea. Around the edge, the text 'THE GEORGE MEDAL'. Circular suspension ring. The ribbon is red with five equidistant narrow vertical stripes in 'Garter' blue. The medal is named (engraved) on the rim: 'MISS CHARITY ANNE BICK.'.
Charity Anne Bick (1927-2002) was fourteen years old when she performed the act of bravery that resulted in the award of the George Medal. Although the papers reported Charity Bick's age at the time as 16, she had falsified her age, which was actually 14, when she applied to join the ARP Services Despatch Riders Team - the minimum age was 16. Following her short but eventful service with West Bromwich Civil Defence, Charity joined the Women's Auxiliary Air Force ( later Women's Royal Air Force) and served with them for 22 years retiring as a Warrant Officer.
The official citation published in the London Gazette of 14 February 1941 reported the events as follows: 'Miss Charity Bick, ARP Despatch Rider, West Bromwich. During a very heavy air raid, Miss Bick played an heroic part under nerve-racking conditions. At the outset when incendiary bombs began to fall she assisted her father, a Post Warden, to put out one of these, in the roof of a shop, with the aid of a stirrup pump and bucket of water. The pump proved to be out of order, but nothing daunted she proceeded to splash the water with her hands and eventually put out the fire. While endeavouring to get out of the roof the charred rafters gave way and she fell through to the room below and sustained minor injuries. Miss Bick and her father then returned to the ARP Post. Almost immediately high explosive bombs began to fall and a terrific explosion nearly shook them off their feet. They discovered that a bomb had destroyed two houses opposite and another one nearby. The Wardens attached to the Post were all on duty, so she borrowed a bicycle and rushed out to take a message to the Control Room amidst shrapnel from guns and falling bombs. She made repeated attempts to get through and several times had to dismount and fall flat on the ground for safety. Covered with dirt and grime she eventually delivered the message. She made three journeys from her Post to the Control Room, a distance of approximately one and a quarter miles, during the height of the raid, and made further journeys afterwards. Miss Bick, by acting as a means of communication between the Wardens' Post to which she was attached and the Control Room, did very valuable work and released other Wardens for duty. She displayed outstanding courage and coolness in very trying circumstances'.
A portrait of Charity Bick GM, by Alfred Reginald Thomson RA, (IWM ART LD1207) is held in the Museum's Art Collection.