George Edward Nurse (14 April 1873 – 25 November 1945) was born in Enniskillen, County Fermanagh, Ireland but grew up in Guernsey where his father was a hotel keeper. Aged 18, he signed up with the Royal Artillery at Woolwich, having previously served in the Guernsey Militia. Promoted to Corporal, he was recalled for army service in 1899 as the Second Boer War broke out.
Victoria Cross Awarded
George won his Victoria Cross aged 26 at the Battle of Colenso on 15 December 1899. As a member of the 66th Battery, Royal Field Artillery of the British Army, he and three others made a dash across 500 yards of heavy bullet fire and shelling to replace dead, injured and fleeing comrades displaced from their guns. While Captain Walter Norris Congreve, Captain Harry Norton Schofield and Lieutenant Freddy Roberts helped harness a team of horses to a limber and line up one gun, George single-handedly limbered up a second gun. All four were awarded the VC for their bravery, Roberts posthumously. George escaped with only a minor wound to his hand.
Promoted to Sergeant for his efforts, his medal was presented on 4 March 1900 by Lieutenant-General Sir G Butler at Ladysmith in South Africa.
George went on to complete 22 years’ active service, ending in January 1914. But when the First World War broke out in August that same year, he quickly re-enlisted and rose to the rank of Lieutenant. Successfully surviving the hostilities, he retired to Liverpool with his wife and family in 1919.
In recognition of the battle in which he won his VC, George gave his son the middle name Colenso. In later years, he worked in the Liverpool Customs House on the cleaning staff. He died in Liverpool in 1945 and is buried in Allerton Cemetery. For many years, there was only a simple grave with no headstone to mark it, but a commemorative memorial headstone was erected in 1989.
His Victoria Cross, along with other medals won during his distinguished military career, is on display at the Royal Artillery Museum in Woolwich, London.
Louise McTigue is a freelance writer and researcher, writing on behalf of Sarsfield Memorials.