(L to R) 1939-45 Star; Africa Star; Italy Star; Defence Medal; War Medal 1939-45; Malta George Cross 50th Anniversary Medal; Efficiency Medal
Gerard Rayner, known as Gerry, was the son of Thomas and Annie Rayner. According to Gerry, his heavily pregnant mother was shocked into labour by the German zeppelin raid on Bolton on the 25th September 1916 and he was born the following day. He grew up on Goston Street in Ardwick.
During the Second World War Gerry served with the Army Catering Corps attached to the 8th (Ardwick) Battalion of the Manchester Regiment. The battalion embarked for France with the British Expeditionary Force, and almost immediately transferred to Malta. "During the Malta siege we barely had anything to eat, no water," recalled Gerry. "It was hard but I enjoyed being a chef." The 8th Battalion then moved to the Middle East in 1943 and then to Italy where it fought until the end of the war with 10th Indian Division.
After the war Gerry returned to Manchester and got a job at Manchester Water Works. He then moved to Portsmouth to be with his sister and settled there for the rest of his life.
During his later life Gerry helped to raise money for the armed forces charity SSAFA. He was a regular face at the Meridian Shopping Centre in Havant where he did most of his fundraising. In 2016 the shopping centre held a tea party to celebrate Gerry’s 100th birthday. Gerry died in 2017. His medals were donated to the collection in 2018.