09 November 2008

George Cross: H. P. Seagrim


Temporary Major, 19th Hyderabad Regiment, Indian Army; attached Force 136, Special Operations Executive

Born: 24 March 1909, Ashmansworth, Hampshire
Died: 22 September 1944, Rangoon, Burma

Citation: The KING has been graciously pleased to approve the posthumous award of the GEORGE CROSS, in recognition of most conspicuous gallantry in carrying out hazardous work in a very brave manner, to:–
Major (temporary) Hugh Paul Seagrim, D.S.O., M.B.E. (IA.985) 19th Hyderabad Regiment (now the Kumaon Regiment), Indian Army.

(London Gazette Issue 37720 dated 12 Sep 1946, published 10 Sep 1946.)

Note: Major Seagrim was the leader of a party which included two other British and one Karen officer, operating in the Karen Hills (Burma) during World War II. In late 1943 the presence of this party became known to the Japanese, who started a wide-spread campaign of arrests and torture to discover their location.
In Feb 1944 the other two British officers were ambushed and killed, but Maj Seagrim and the Karen officer escaped. The Japanese then arrested 270 Karen tribesmen, including elders and headsmen, and tortured and killed many of them, but they continued to assist and shelter Maj Seagrim. In order to save them further suffering, Seagrim surrendered himself to the Japanese on 15 Mar 1944. He was taken to Rangoon and, with eight others, was sentenced to death. He pleaded that only he should be executed, as the others had only obeyed his orders, but such was the devotion he had inspired that they all expressed their willingness to die with him and they were executed 22 Sep 1944 in Rangoon.

Maj Seagrim and his older brother, Lt Col Derek A Seagrim VC, are the only pair of siblings to have been awarded both the Victoria Cross and the George Cross. Both were posthumous awards.

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