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George Cross recipient John Gregson dies

NZ Newswire logoNZ Newswire 1/01/2017

John Gregson GC, in 2010 © Screenshot from Maori TV interview (https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=rXVg03VzkNg) John Gregson GC, in 2010 A New Zealand man awarded the highest award for civilian bravery has died.

Governor-General Dame Patsy Reddy has paid tribute to John Gregson, 91,who received the George Cross in 2014 for his actions during World War II.

He died surrounded by family at Tauranga Hospital on December 25.

"Mr Gregson will be remembered for an act of extraordinary courage when he saved the life of a wounded shipmate after their ship SS Deucalian was torpedoes in 1942," Dame Patsy said in a statement on Monday.

"He was one of the few people to receive the George Cross, the highest award for gallantry awarded to civilians."

It's believed there are less than living 20 recipients worldwide after Mr Gregson's death.

Mr Gregson was presented with his award on August 14, 2014 exactly 72 years after the rescue took place.

"It was a case of survival. When I came around, most of the people had gone. There was one of the gun crew pinned under a raft with a broken leg. There was one other chap with me who lifted the raft off him to get him over the side," Mr Gregson told Fairfax after the presentation.

"I swam with him. They said I saved his life, but I was saving my own at the time so I don't really take much credit for it."

Service for the Victoria Cross and George Cross Association Union, St Martin-in-the-Fields, London, Britain - 09 Sep 2008. John Gregson GC is middle row, fifth from left. © Rex Shutterstock/Rex Features/Rex Images Service for the Victoria Cross and George Cross Association Union, St Martin-in-the-Fields, London, Britain - 09 Sep 2008. John Gregson GC is middle row, fifth from left. Mr Gregson was presented with the Albert Medal in 1943. That honour was later replaced by the George Cross.

He is survived by two children, five grandchildren and seven great-grandchildren.

A funeral will be held on Wednesday.

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