Corporal J W ‘Roy’ George and Private Stanley George

Justus Watts (though known as Roy) and Stanley George

Bertram (b July 1881), Stanley (b June 1889) and Roy (b March 1891) George were three of the four sons of Thomas George a Grocer with premises, Markwell & Co in Market Place in Blandford. The fourth son Thomas, known as Dray was profoundly deaf and spent the war helping run the family business. Their older sister Wyn was an Ambulance driver on the Western Front and their youngest sister, Iris was a Nurse.

All three boys first attended Blandford Secondary School and later moved on to Milton Abbas Grammar School. Stanley and Roy then went on to board at Taunton School in January 1903 at the ages of 14 and 12 respectively.

The three brothers initially served in The Queen’s Own Dorset Yeomanry. (QODY) The Yeomanry were the part-time, volunteer reserve Cavalry for the British Army. Mostly dating from the Napoleonic era when the threat of invasion was at its height. The Yeomanry in the main supplied their own horses and their ranks were thus usually made up of farmers and comfortably off rural tradesmen. The Yeomanry officers were often aristocratic land-owners.

Their father had been a Dorset Yeoman in the 1870’s and so there were established family connections with C Squadron (Sqn) QODY when Roy joined in 1909. At a time when Blandford was much smaller than it is today it is interesting to note that it was possible to maintain recruitment for both a Sqn of Yeomanry in the town and H Company of the 4TH Battalion (Territorials) Dorset Regiment.

Beyond school. Bertram went to Hartley University College in Southampton, Stanley became a clerk with the Wilts and Dorset Bank in Salisbury and Roy became a farming pupil in Tarrant Rawston (in essence a Farmer’s apprentice) and then went to study Agriculture at Reading University.

When war came in 1914 it was an obvious choice for Stanley and Bertram to join Roy in QODY as all the brothers rode well and they both volunteered in September. Bertram had been a Territorial volunteer previously when he was in Southampton but now the three brothers were serving together with the youngest, as a corporal, being in military terms the most senior.

After training in Norfolk, QODY were sent to Egypt were they continued to train in advance of the Gallipoli landings where they arrived on 18th August 1915, three days later QODY advancing on foot as dismounted infantry, made an attack on Scimitar Hill which was the largest single day attack made by the allies at Gallipoli. Three Divisions took part attacking Turkish positions which were inaccurately located and covered by enfilading machine gun fire and the British Army lost some 5300 casualties out of the 14300 who crossed the start line. QODY lost 126 killed or wounded and Roy was one of the 41 killed. Although he was initially recorded as missing, his body was never recovered. He was 24 years old. With no known grave he is commemorated on the Helles Memorial.

After the withdrawal from the Gallipoli peninsula at the end of the year QODY returned to Egypt where it became obvious that using horses in very hot conditions was not ideal. Although a small experiment with using camels was successful before the war the formation of the Imperial Camel Corps (ICC) was intended to overcome the problems associated with horses. As far as the British Army was concerned after the experiences of the Boer War, the role of modern cavalry was to move on horseback then fight as dismounted infantry. Thus using camels would allow this role to be extended into desert conditions.

Stanley joined the ICC soon after returning to Egypt and over the next three years he was involved in action against the Turkish Army overland through Palestine. He had become a stretcher bearer and during an operation to destroy a pontoon bridge over which supplies were arriving to the Turks from Northern Palestine on the 1st May 1918, Stanley was hit by a machine gun burst.