New research by UK window cleaning company reveals that teachers and window cleaners were the most likely professions to receive a decoration for bravery during the First World War. As such, they are classed as the “bravest” off all professions of servicemen and women in the British Armed Forces.

Apart from the fact that they have to scale heights that are nothing short of daunting, window cleaners are not often remembered for their extreme fearlessness. However, new research by UK window cleaning company Complete Cleaning Services has revealed that window cleaners were actually the most likely to receive a decoration for bravery during WWI.

Window cleaner

The study analysed the records listed for hundreds of different servicemen, who all received a decoration for valour during the First World War. The aim was to find the ten professions that received the most decorations. The results were interesting to say the very least. The ten bravest professions were revealed to be:

  1. Teachers

  2. Window cleaners

  3. Cotton mill workers

  4. Doctors

  5. Fishermen

  6. Servants

  7. Barbers

  8. Merchants

  9. Policemen

  10. Bankers

The study was released as part of the “Who do you think you are?” television show and was conducted by working together with Ancestry.com. This website has been designed to help people research their own ancestry. Through their existence, however, they have been able to collect various other pieces of fascinating data that allowed for this specific piece of research as well.

The study looked into the professional background of hundreds of different British Armed Forces personnel. It looked specifically at those who had received the Meritorious Service Medal, the Distinguished Conduct Medal and the Military and Victoria Crosses. These are all awarded when someone stands out for their conduct during a conflict. This data was then cross referenced with the information made available through the 1911 census. This then allowed researchers to find out just how common various jobs were. The most decorated jobs of all were miners and people who worked in the agricultural industry.

One of the teachers who was found to have been awarded the Victoria Cross was Frederick Youens. The Victoria Cross is the highest possible decoration for valour on the battlefield. Youens received his decoration posthumously, after he perished on the battlefield when trying to help a team of machine gunners who were under attack by the Germans. This happened near Hill 50, one of the most prominent and best known landmarks on the Western Front. He perished in July 1917.

One of the window cleaners to receive the Distinguished Conduct Medal was J.H. Stanley Coates, a resident of Hulme, Manchester. Other medal winners included waterproofer Jack White, professional footballer William Angus, a straw hat maker and waterproofer Edward Warner.

We had expected to see people like policemen, doctors and teachers on the roll”, says a spokesperson for Complete Cleaning Services. “Naturally, these people had certain leadership qualities and skills that would have served them well on the battlefield as well. However, we were quite surprise to uncover that it was actually everyday people, with ordinary professions, who really are the heroes. We felt that this is something that needed to be recognised: everyone can be a hero when push comes to shove.”

The research didn’t just establish which professions received the most decorations”, adds the spokesperson. “We also discovered that a number of people from highly unusual walks of life were decorated. William Angus was a professional footballer and he was able to receive the Victoria Cross, which is the highest possible decoration. This piece of research really opened our eyes.”

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