CWG: Ordinary Seaman George Butler

Ordinary Seaman George Butler

George Butler was born in Willesden, Middlesex, on 16th January 1899 and was the oldest of three children. His father, George Sr, was a bricklayer, while his mother, Sarah, worked as a laundress to help bring in some extra money.

Sadly, because of his age, there is little concrete information on George Jr’s early life. What can be confirmed is that, on 21st March 1917, having not long turned 18 years of age, and with the Great War well under way, he was keen to play his part for King and Country. He joined the Royal Navy for the duration of the conflict and was given the rank of Ordinary Seaman.

George’s service records show that he was 5ft 10ins (1.78m) tall, had brown hair, grey eyes and a fair complexion. It was also noted that he had a scar on his left leg. The document also confirms that he was employed as a bus washer.

Ordinary Seaman Butler was based at HMS Pembroke, the Royal Naval Dockyard in Chatham, Kent. It was a busy place that summer, and temporary accommodation was needed quickly. Chatham Drill Hall was brought into service, and George found himself billeted there.

On the 3rd September 1917, the German Air Force carried out its first night air raid: Chatham was heavily bombed and the Drill Hall received a direct hit; Ordinary Seaman Butler was among those killed instantly. He was just 18 years of age.

George Butler was laid to rest, alongside the other victims of the Chatham Air Raid, in the Woodlands Cemetery, Gillingham.


George’s headstone gives the incorrect initial, but the location is correct.


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