CWG: Second Lieutenant George Palmer

Second Lieutenant George Palmer

George Henry Palmer is one of those names that has been a challenge to research and who risked being lost to time.

George and Henry are common names for the late Victorian era, so a simple search on Ancestry brought up too many options to confirm anything specific.

Given the ornate nature of his headstone, it seemed reasonable that his passing and funeral would have been recorded in contemporary media, and indeed it was; the only identifiable name was his own. (His parents “WR and A Palmer” and featured, as is his grandfather “Rev. J Palmer”, but, again, this is not enough to go on for research.)

The additional name on the gravestone, however – George’s brother Albert – proved to be the key, though, identifying the following.


George Henry Palmer was born in May 1896, one of five children to William Richard Palmer and his wife Amy. William was a chemist’s assistant, a job that seemed to move him around the country. William was born in Wells, Somerset, as was his wife and eldest son; George was born in Regents Park, London, while Albert, who was a year younger, was born back in Wells. By the time of the 1901 census (when George was 4 and Albert 3), the family were living in Leicester, and they remained so for the next ten years.

Details of George’s military service comes primarily from the newspaper report of his funeral:

Deceased… was discharged from the Army through wounds received at Ypres in February, 1916, and had resumed his studies at Oxford and entered on a course of forestry, which he was following with great success.

He was well known in Wells, having spent a considerable time in the city and vicinity. He took a great interest in the Wells Volunteers, and was able to drill them in true Army style, having received his training in the Artist Rifles, and later gained his commission in the Rifle Brigade, where he was spoken highly of by his brother officers and men.

Mr Palmer was most thorough and painstaking in all his duties and studies. He was a Wyggestine [sic] scholar at the age of ten years in open competition, and later senior scholar at Wadham College Oxford.

Wells Journal: Friday 1st November 1918.

Second Lieutenant Palmer contracted pneumonia while up at Oxford, succumbing to the illness on 28th October 1918, just a fortnight before the end of the war. He was 22 years of age.

George Henry Palmer lies at rest in the cemetery of his home city of Wells.


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