HOLLOWDAY Vivian, GC
No. & Rank at the Time of Action: Aircraftman
Unit/Occupation: Royal Air Force
Date and Place of Birth: 16th October 1916, Barton-on-Humber, Lincolnshire
Date and Place of GC Action: August 1940, Cranfield, Bedfordshire
The London Gazette: 21st January 1941
Deed: On two occasions, in July and August 1940 at Cranfield, Bedfordshire, Aircraftman Hollowday tried to rescue airmen from
crashed aircraft which had burst into flames. On the second occasion, in spite of the danger of exploding ammunition, he managed
to extricate two of the three airmen, but unfortunately all three were dead.
Remarks: Member of the VC & GC Association Committee 1958-77; member of the Legion of Frontiersmen; Committee member of
the Royal Society of St. George.
Additional Information: One night in July, 1940, when returning to camp this airman observed an aircraft crash and burst into flames near Cranfield village. He proceeded to the wreckage and made his way through the burning debris which was scattered over a wide area by the force of the impact. He found the pilot, whose clothing was on fire, and put out the flames with his bare hands. Had the pilot not been killed instantly in the crash this action would in all probability have saved his life. In August this airman was again returning through Cranfield to the camp when an aircraft spun into the ground and exploded. Ammunition was exploding all the time but despite this he borrowed a gas mask, wrapped two sacks over himself, and spent some time in the flames making four attempts before he succeeded in releasing the first occupant. He successfully recovered the second. All three occupants however, were already dead. He displayed amazing courage and initiative on both occasions.
So runs the citation in the London Gazette of 21st January, 1941, when Aircraftsman First Class Vivian Holloway was awarded the George Cross. In later years this ebullient young man, who was born at Barton-on-Humber, Lincolnshire, on 16th October, 1916, became President of the Military Medallists League, actively participated in the Royal Society of Saint George, and was a member of the Legion of Frontiersmen. It was, however, as the Committee Member of the Victoria Cross and George Cross Association, who genially managed the arrangements for the overseas members of the Association at their biennial reunions, that he will be remembered best.
A director of a firm of millers and grain merchants at Turvey, near Bedford, "Bob" Hollowday traveled widely and worked untiringly to make the reunions the huge success they are. His untimely death in April 1977 robbed the Association of a much-loved and respected member.
Other Decorations/Medals: In addition to his British Military decorations and campaign medals Hollowday has a group of unofficial 'Veterans Association' medals of one sort or another, which include the Cross for European Confederation, Australian Bronze Medal, Cross of French Societe des Anciens Combatants, the Belgian Albert I Merit Cross with one gold and one silver palm. They are court mounted side by side and sewn down.
GC Location/Sale History: Corporal Hollowday's official and 'unofficial' medals are on display in the Royal Air Force Museum, Hendon
Date and Place of Death: 15th April 1977, Bedford, Bedfordshire
Burial/Cremation: Cremated at Bedford Crematorium
Obituary: (The Times, 22nd April 1977; p20)
Mr Vivian HOLLOWDAY, GC, who died at Bedford on April 15 (1977) at the age of 60, won the third George Cross to be awarded (London Gazette dated January 21, 1941) for two acts of gallantry in July and August, 1940, while serving in the RAF as an Aircraftsman First Class. On both occasions, having seen an aircraft crash and burst into flames, he attempted to rescue the airmen. On the second occasion, despite the danger from exploding ammunition, he managed to extract two of the three airmen, but all three were dead. After the war he became a grain merchant in Bedford. Universally known as "Bob" Hollowday, he was a very keen and active member of the Victoria Cross and George Cross Association Committee which he joined in 1958. He will be particularly missed by all overseas members who attend the biennial reunions in London in whom he took a very special interest - meeting them on arrival and seeing to their needs throughout their stay. He also took a particularly active part in all reunion arrangements.