Contributed by: Julie Taylor, on 2008-11-06
|Year of Birth||1895|
|Year of Death||1917|
|Place of Wartime Residence||Swindon, Wiltshire|
George joined up in 1915 and after only 6 months in France his regiment sailed from Marseilles to Macedonia where they initially worked on building defences around Salonika. They arrived at the Doiran Front in July 1916, experiencing trench warfare similar to that on the Western front. George was 23 years old when he was killed during the first Battle of Doiran, where the British Army fought the Bulgarians. The British suffered heavy losses that night and in the War Diary entry for that date George was listed as 'Missing'.
George was killed on 24th April 1917 in Salonika and is commemorated on the DOIRAN war memorial
Major Owen Rutter served with the Wiltshires and wrote a poem in the style of Longfellow's 'The Song of Hiawatha' called 'The Song of Tiadatha'. It charts his army experience and includes the Battle of Doiran. This is a very moving extract from that poem describing the aftermath of 24th April 1917:
Had you been there when the dawn broke
Had you looked out from the trenches
You'd have seen that Serbian hillside
Seen the aftermath of battle
Seen the scattered picks and shovels
Seen the scraps of stray equipment
Here and there a lonely rifle
Or a Lewis gun all twisted
Seen the little heaps of khaki
Lying huddled on the hillside
Huddled by the Bulgar trenches
Very still and very silent
Nothing stirring, nothing moving
Save a very gallant doctor
And his band of stretcher bearers
Working fearless in the open
Giving water to the dying
Bringing in those broken soldiers.
You'd have seen the sunlight streaming
And perhaps you would have wondered
How the sun could still be shining
Howthe birds could still be singing
While so many British soldiers
Lay so still upon the hillside.
George's parents never got over his death. His father died 5 months later in September of 1917 and his mother a few months after that in March 1918.
I never knew him but I'm very proud of him, and I never fail to be moved when I read Owen Rutter's epic poem.