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The UK Government’s website page Medals: campaigns, descriptions and eligibility explains that the George Cross is the premier award given for non-operational gallantry or gallantry not in the presence of an enemy. It is awarded for acts of the greatest heroism or of the most conspicuous courage in circumstances of extreme danger.
The George Cross is equal in stature in the UK honours system to the Victoria Cross, the highest military gallantry award. This has always been the case since the introduction of the award in 1940.
It may be awarded to all ranks of the services and civilians and can be awarded posthumously.
On this page we list in chronological order the Muslims we are aware of who have been awarded the George Cross.
Jemadar Pir Khan was travelling along the Tochi Road, towards Bannu, with his regiment. During his journey, he and his squadron were ambushed. Pir Khan placed himself in a dangerous firing position, and repelled multiple attempts by the enemy to outflank and overwhelm them. While under fire, Pir Khan also assisted his comrades who were injured and dying.
Pir Khan only had 3 of his 50 original bullets remaining when his efforts forced the enemy to retreat. For his actions he was awarded the Empire Gallantry Medal, which was converted into the George Cross.
During the campaign, a live grenade went astray, and was cast amongst Lance Naik Ud-din’s troops. Without hesitation, Ud-din threw himself onto the grenade to save the lives of his comrades. He was killed instantly.
Captain Mateen Ahmed Ansari was taken prisoner following the Battle of Hong Kong 1941. He refused to denounce his allegiance to the British as he wanted to remain loyal. For this he was subjected to starvation and torture in the notorious Stanley May Jail.
Despite his treatment, Ansari continued to defy his captors and organised several escape attempts. He was sentenced to death and beheaded by the Japanese on 20th October 1943.
Captain Durrani managed to evade capture for three months with his troops, following the British retreat in Malaya after the Japanese attacked. Durrani was eventually captured, and subjected to various barbaric methods of torture.
Despite this, Durrani never divulged privileged information to the Indian National Army, and he continued to plot against the Japan-affiliated troops even while in captivity. His health was permanently affected by this treatment.
Abdul Rahman successfully rescued three men from a burning vehicle in Kletek, Java, making his decoration awarded due to gallantry not in the face of the enemy.
Rahman had previously seen combat against Rommel’s troops at Imphal, and was awarded the Military Cross in Burma 1944.
Assistant Section Office Noor Inayat Khan was the first female radio operator to be infiltrated into enemy-occupied France. Following the mass arrests of Paris Resistance Forces, Khan was eventually arrested and interrogated in Paris, 1943, at Gestapo headquarters.
Following multiple escape attempts and repeated failures to cooperate with Nazi authorities, Khan was eventually executed.
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