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Robert Murray Kavanaugh, George Cross

  The George Cross was instituted in September 1940 to recognise civilian heroism. King George VI created the award for the men and women of the Commonwealth whose courage could not be marked by any other honour. The silver cross, bearing an image of St George slaying the dragon and the words "FOR GALLANTRY", was designed by Percy Metcalfe and is struck at the Royal Mint.

Robert Murray Kavanaugh, George Cross

Unit /Occupation : Civilian, Dental Student (later Royal Australian Air Force, No. 261881)
Date / Place of Birth : 18th December 1906, Wingham, New South Wales, Australia
Family : Husband of Mrs Mary Kavanaugh. Father of Pat, Lynette, Shane and Michael
Date / Place of GC Action : 12th January 1929, Bondi Beach, Sydney, NSW, Australia
Gazetted : The London Gazette: 16th October 1930
Account of Deed: On the evening of 12th January 1929, a boy of 14, Colin Stewart, was bathing at Bondi Beach, New South Wales, some 50 yards from the shore when he was attacked by a shark and was seriously injured on his right side and hip. Mr. Kavanaugh of Darlinghurst, New South Wales, who was bathing a few yards from the boy, without hesitation swam to his aid and had almost reached him when the shark made a second attack on the boy. Undeterred by the danger to himself, Mr. Kavanaugh caught hold of the injured lad and struggled with him towards the shore. He had gone a considerable distance when he was met by two other men and together they carried the boy to the beach where he was given medical attention before being taken to hospital, where he died the next morning.
Additional Information: Served with the Royal Australian Air Force in WWII as a Dental Officer. Kavanaugh was discharged from the RAAF on 9th June 1945 with the rank of Squadron Leader. His final posting was at the RAAF Station, Bradfield Park. See his entry in Oakes, Gerard, 'Robert Murray Kavanaugh (1906-1976), Dentist', in John Ritchie (ed), Australian Dictionary of Biography, vol. 14, Melbourne University Press, Melbourne, 1996, pp. 600-601
Date / Place of Death: 12th September 1976 in Glebe, Sydney, New South Wales


Reproduced by kind permission of The George Cross Database If you are related to Robert or know something about him, then please contact the GC database.

With special thanks to Marion Hebblethwaite.