Lance Bombardier Brian Spillett GC

29 Jan 1965

  • George Cross medal

Brian Spillett, a Detail Fitter who lived in Waltham Cross, Hertfordshire, was a Lance Bombardier with the 289 Parachute Regiment RHA (TA) as part of P Battery, based in Chingford, Essex.

He was awarded a posthumous George Cross for his actions when attempting to rescue a neighbour from a domestic house fire.

In in the early hours of the morning in mid-January 1965, Mr Spillett became aware of a house fire in a neighbouring property. His London Gazette citation published on 26 June 1965 recorded the following:

'A fire broke out at a house, the home of a man and his wife and their child and the grandfather. The fire had reached an advanced stage when the family were aroused and it was only with great difficulty that the wife and child and the grandfather escaped.

The father was still in the house when Mr. Spillett, attracted by shouting, came from his house a few doors away. He arrived only partly dressed. When he reached the door of the house both downstairs and upstairs were a mass of flames. Mr. Spillett enquired whether everyone was out of the house and on learning the father was still in it on the first floor, he ran straight into the flames. Attempts to hold him back were brushed aside.

Mr. Spillett reached the first floor but was unable to rescue the father. By now the inside of the house was a blazing inferno and he only managed to escape himself by jumping through a first floor window. He was found some time later in the garden of an adjoining house, very extensively burnt and with other serious injuries. He died in hospital a week later.

Mr. Spillett sacrificed his life in an effort to save that of a neighbour.'

Brian Spillett died of his injuries on 29 January 1965. His funeral was conducted at Waltham Abbey a few days later, with 289 Parachute Regiment RHA members acting as the bearer party.

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