CWG: Ordinary Seaman George Shuttle

Ordinary Seaman George Shuttle

George James Henry Shuttle was born in Brentford, Middlesex, on 12th July 1899. His mother was Helen (or Ellen or Nellie) Shuttle, but he does not seem to have had a close connection to her and, according to the records, there was no father on the scene. Initially fostered out to Noah and Carmina Scott as a nurse child, by the time of the 1911 census, the couple had adopted him.

When he left school, George worked as a milk boy, but he seemed to know that a life of adventure awaited him. In June 1915, he joined the Royal Navy; being only 15 at the time, he was given the rank of Boy 2nd Class.

His initial posting was on board the cruiser HMS Powerful, and his training there paid off, as he quickly rose to Boy 1st Class. After a couple of months’ at HMS Victory – the Royal Naval Dockyard in Portsmouth – George was assigned to his second ship, HMS Malaya. Within weeks, the brand new battleship had cut her teeth in the Battle of Jutland, during which 65 of her crew were killed.

George spent more than eighteen months on Malaya; his time on board saw him turn eighteen, and gain the rank of Ordinary Seaman. His service records at the time show that he was 5ft 3.5ins (1.61m) tall, had brown hair, grey eyes and a fresh complexion.

By August 1917 Ordinary Seaman Shuttle had returned to shore, and was assigned to HMS Pembroke, the Royal Naval Dockyard in Chatham, Kent. The base was particularly busy when he arrived. Temporary accommodation at Chatham Drill Hall had been set up, and George found himself billeted there for the summer.

On the 3rd September 1917, the German Air Force carried out one of the first night-time air raids on England: an unprepared Chatham was heavily bombed and the Drill Hall received a direct hit. Ordinary Seaman Shuttle was badly injured and died of his wounds in hospital the following day.

George James Henry Shuttle was laid to rest, along with the other victims of the Chatham Air Raid, in the Woodlands Cemetery, Gillingham.

George’s mother, Helen, had continued with her life. A year after George was born, she had another son, Cyril, but he also seems to have been fostered out to enable her to work.

In 1903, she married musician Harry Burgiss-Brown, and the couple set up home in Richmond, Surrey. They went on to have two children, and Helen seemed focused on her new life, rather than the one she had before marrying.

Helen died in 1949, just short of her 70th birthday.

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