George was born in Southsea on 17/11/1917 and baptised at St Peter’s Southsea on 06/01/1918, the son of David William and Ida Casselden nee Carr. His father was an engine fitter and his parents were living at 25 Abingdon Road at the time. According to a book produced by the Croydon Council in 1949 he was educated at John Ruskin school in Croydon and lived at 14 Inwood Avenue in Old Coulsdon. This was also his parents’ address in 1939.
By 1937 George had moved to Lewes as a sorting clerk and telegraphist at the Post Office. He was a keen sportsman both at school and in Lewes. His father had been born in Brighton, his mother in Lindfield, and they had married in Newhaven, so the family still had strong connections in Sussex. This may be why he moved to Lewes for work.
George acted as bearer at his grandmother’s funeral in Haywards Heath in 1937, and the local paper noted that he came from Lewes. There are also regular mentions in the local paper of him playing cricket.
He played tennis, cricket, table tennis and darts for the Lewes and District Postal Sports Club, and they purchased a darts cup in his memory after the war.
George married Olive Grace Buckwell in Lewes in 1940 and there is circumstantial evidence to suggest that they honeymooned in Aberdeen. They set up home at 47 New Road, and had two daughters.
George joined the RNVR as a telegraphist at the beginning of the war and was numbered P/WRX 666. The ‘P’ showing that his base port was Portsmouth, the ‘W’ that he was a wireless man, the ‘R’ Reserves and the ‘X’ that he had joined after the pay review in the 1930s. He had risen to the rank of Petty Officer by 1944.
He was part of Operation Neptune, the amphibious part of Operation Overlord to land troops in large numbers in Normandy. It is beyond the scope of these notes to go into full detail of the roles of the various vessels involved. George was part of the HQ ships category, monitoring the progress of the invasion, providing support within their designated area, and keeping in constant contact with both the troops and up the line of command.
George was involved in the landings on Sword Beach on HMLC H 185. (His Majesty’s Landing Craft Headquarters no.185) This vessel could transport up to 200 men and land them at short notice. It was a larger vessel than a standard landing craft, with a naval crew of 35 men equipped with wireless telegraphists and signallers. They liaised with HMS Largs, who remained off the beachhead for several days after the landings.
They were still operating on 25/06/1944 when they struck a mine off the mouth of the River Orne and sank. The crew of 35 were lost. Only 3 bodies were recovered for burial in France.
George is remembered in several places. Principally on the Royal Naval Memorial in Portsmouth, his home base; also Lewes Post Office Memorial, St John sub Castro Memorial and Lewes War Memorial.