George Eardley VC

A new book telling the stories of 22 British war heroes features a Victoria Cross winner who was badly injured in a horrific Nantwich railway accident.

George Eardley VC was driving with his wife when their car was crushed by an express train which had crashed through barriers.

George’s wife Winifred died but he survived as a passing doctor had to amputate his leg to free him from the wreckage.

Just 20 years earlier, Congleton-born George had been awarded the highest military honour possible for his heroics in Second World War.

Now a new book produced by Dr Ken Tout recalls George’s heroics and how, in June 1964, he cheated death in the Nantwich incident.

“For fear of a car explosion, the car driver had to have his left leg amputated without anaesthetic by a passing doctor,” writes Ken.

“George Eardley, VC, MM, who 20 years earlier had experienced everything that battle could throw against him but survived with far less physical injury than in the Nantwich incident.”

A fascinating report into how the railway accident happened can be found in the Railways Archive here.

Leaving his print job in Congleton, Eardley went with the Kings Shropshire Light infantry to Normandy in June 1944 and within days won the Military Medal for charging an enemy machine gun at point blank range.

Later, as the Germans fanatically defended the only main road capable of carrying allied tanks from Holland to Germany, Eardley’s section was sent to clear machine gun pits hidden in woods and manned by elite German paratroopers.

He charged three machine guns in succession, armed only with a puny Sten gun and lobbing hand grenades, wiping out all three and allowing the advance to continue.

His story occupies one chapter of a new book “How Modest are the Bravest!” by Ken Tout, just published by Helion Press.

It tells of 22 war heroes from nine nations during the D Day to VE Day period.

The book finds that most war heroes, called to undertake savage acts in battle, were essentially mild, modest people.

Eardley, far from glorifying his experiences, told one friend after continual interrogation: “I don’t talk about it much but… if I had known there were three of the b***g*rs in there, I wouldn’t have gone”.

Ken, who is now 95, was a tank commander in the army during the Second World War: “I was a Normandy tank commander, located at times very near Eardley but never actually met him!”

ken tout book on george eardley

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