Last summer, FifeX got in touch with an interesting project. The Museum of London were creating a special exhibition about Richard V. Moore, a navy volunteer from London who earned a George Cross for his bomb disposal work in London during the blitz.
Heroism and generosity
Richard’s family kindly donated his medals and other documents to the Museum and they put the rare George Cross on public display in September 2016. They wanted to tell Richard’s story in a special new exhibition, and decided to create an interactive puzzle of his George Cross medal as part of it.
When FifeX spoke to me about this model, time was tight. The exhibition opening was within a fortnight. Nick Moore (Richard’s son) and Nick’s 92 year old aunt (Richard’s sister who was present when he received his George Cross) were going to be present. Everything had to be right to thank them for their generous and important donation.
How to make a wooden George Cross medal
Ken Boyd and I discussed what materials might work best and in the end, we settled on laser plywood. It can be laser cut and engraved to create the detail required. While it wouldn’t look like metal, wood is easy to handle, is pleasing to the eye and is well suited to making a puzzle to suit all ages. And we had to make it quickly!
Ken decided to make the model in six layers of laserply, mixing up the thicknesses to create the 3D shape required for the final model. The top two layers were to be cut and engraved from 3mm ply, and the cross from four layers of 6mm ply of which the top layer only was engraved.
Engraved George Cross detail
Even although I have worked with FifeX for five years and they know what artwork I need, this puzzle was so complex that we went through several iterations to get it right.
Artwork for each layer had to be separate as the layers had to be stacked on top of each other. The top two 3mm engraved layers had to be engraved and then cut into the puzzle shapes, as did the top layer of 6mm ply.
The bottom three layers of 6mm laserply were easy. I just had to cut the shapes out. All the cuts had to correspond to those of the layers above and below to ensure a perfect fit.
Putting it all together
Ken took all the pieces back to the FifeX workshop and glued and finished the puzzle. We made the deadline and the puzzle was at the opening of the exhibition.
It was a privilege to help celebrate the incredible bravery of an ordinary Londoner. He saved many lives, houses and businesses from the dreaded parachute bombs and lived to tell the tale. Sadly, his two co-workers weren’t so lucky, but they also received the same honour posthumously. The other exhibit is an illustrated comic book based on a diary of Richard Moore. It tells the story of the work they did and how his friends died diffusing one of the bombs.
Richard Moore’s medals are on permanent display in the War Gallery.
You can read more information here about Richard and his colleagues Ryan and Ellingworth.