Here I am at the grave of George Nurse who was awarded the rare Victoria Cross for a moment of outstanding bravery.
He was born in County Fermanagh Ireland, grew up in Guernsey in the Channel Islands (where his parents ran a hotel), joined the army in London aged 18, found in many countries and now lies here in a cemetery in Allerton, Liverpool.
Aged 26 he was a corporal in the Royal Field Artillery and fighting in the Second Boer War. He was fighting at Colenso in Africa on 15th December 1899. Most of his regiment had been wounded or killed at a sudden close-range fire from the enemy. Five hundred yards away was a donga (a gulley formed by running water) which contained some horses that were still alive. George volunteered to join Captain Congreve, Captain Schofield and Lieutenant Roberts George to dash across 500 yards of land and space strewn with flying bullets and exploding shells to help dying and injured comrades. Once back in the donga they harnessed a team of horses to a limber (a two-wheeled cart carrying one big gun) to fight off the enemy. George was wounded in a hand but when he saw Lieutenant Roberts take a bullet and fall to the ground he went out in a blaze of bullets to help him. Thankfully Captain Congreve lived (even though he was shot through the leg and toe of his boot and saw his horse shot) and gave witness to George’s bravery which resulted in a Victoria Cross. All four men were award a VC (Roberts posthumously.)
Always a consummate soldier George went on to complete 22 years of active service ending in January 1914. What timing though - seven months later First World War broke out and he quickly re-enlisted and rose to the rank of Lieutenant. He retired to Liverpool five years later with his wife.
He must have never forgotten that day in Colenso and gave his son the middle name “Colenso”. After years of fighting he spent later life working in the Liverpool Customs House on the cleaning staff. He died aged 72 and occupied a simple grave with no headstone. Forty-four years passed before the commemorative memorial headstone was erected. Here I am beside it.
It was a pleasure to seek out this man. Wouldn’t it be excellent to press a button on a computer and see these acts of bravery as it happened? His three comrades were also awarded Victoria Crosses so I will go and visit them too (though Congreve was buried at sea near Malta.)