George Stephen Andrews
George Stephen Andrews
Page last modified: September 09, 2018

[BMD] [Biography] [The Buffs] [First Marriage] [W.W.II] [Second Marriage]
At Dartford Grammar] [Final years] [Photo Gallery]



19 January 1907 in South Street, KEN
24 March 1907 in Boughton Under Blean

Married 1:

28 September 1935 in Dover, KEN
Violet May LEAKS

Married 2:

08 November 1947 in Dartford, KEN
Maud Lizzie LEESON


09 July 1984 in Ivybridge, DEV

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George Andrews as a boy c. 1910George Stephen Andrews was born on the 19th of January, 1907 in South Street near Boughton in Kent. One of his keenest childhood memories was of the long walk to school. George was often hungry on the way and resorted to eating what he could from the fields and hedgerows, including raw potato. George was a poor scholar and often played truant from school. He preferred to work with his father and the other men on the local farm instead. That way he not only earned a little money to help with the family finances but also got fed by the farmer’s wife at lunchtime!


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Private George AndrewsGeorge’s mother died in 1915 when he was just eight years old. In 1919 his father remarried and George didn’t always see eye-to-eye with his stepmother, or with his older sister Caroline. In 1924 he ran away from home and enlisted in the ‘The Buffs’ for 7 years of colour service and 5 years in the reserve. George, army number 6282490, lied about his age giving his year of birth as 1906. On enlistment he is described as five foot nine-and-half inches tall, weight 124 pounds, chest 34 inches, fresh complexion, grey eyes and light brown hair. His final adult height was six foot two inches.

When George arrived at the barracks in Canterbury there was more than one George around. To solve the problem he elected to be referred to by his middle name of Stephen and was known by this name for the rest of his life. The army soon began to make up for his poor schooling and trained him as a signaller.  He also passed his 3rd class certificate of education in 1924 and the 2nd class certificate in 1927. However, his  reading and writing remained poor throughout his life.

George was posted to Gibraltar in September 1926, where he remained for over five months. In 1927 he was posted to India, moving to Burma in 1930, the Andaman Islands in 1931 and back to Burma later the same year. George was heavily involved in sports while in the army, including boxing and taking part in the tug-of-war team. While in Rangoon he suffered toothache and the ministrations of the local dentist resulted in an infected jaw. This no doubt contributed to the early loss of most of his teeth. His arms also became infected at one point, perhaps as a result of the many tattoos he acquired. King George and Queen Mary were resplendent across his chest and each of his arms bore two or three other tattoos. The one I remember best is of a solar topee with a tiny pair of feet emerging below, being all that remained of the wearer who has melted into a puddle of perspiration.  I recall there was an amusing caption but I can’t remember it now.

George liked to tell of the time he left his tent late at night to answer a call of nature and being too tired to visit the latrines, he nipped behind his tent. There he came eyeball to eyeball with a tiger. Man and beast stared at each other for a while, George was aware that if he called out or moved the tiger might pounce. Eventually, the tiger turned around and walked slowly back into the jungle. He really needed the latrines after that!

George returned to the UK in January of 1932 at the end of his period of colour service and was transferred to the army reserve. He was awarded the India General Service medal 1908-1935 with the clasp ‘Burma 1930-32’. His testimonial describes him as:

 “A good, clean, keen honest, sober, reliable, hard-working man. Intelligent, cheerful and capable. Good Sportsman and keen in all games. Good signaller. Prior to enlistment, he was a gardener. A good type of man, who should do well in civil life.”

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On September 28th 1935 he married Violet May Leaks at the Dover Register Office. The marriage was witnessed by Evelyne E. Wheatley, Rose Ferris and Florence Frishen. At the time of the wedding George was living at 77 Union Road in Dover and working as an Attendant in the local Poor Law Institution. Violet was a mental nurse and lived at 18 Market Square, Dover. Their only child was either stillborn or died soon after birth and the marriage ended in divorce.

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After several years in the army reserve, George was mobilised  in September 1939. He saw active duty with the British Expeditionary Force in France and was among the wounded evacuated from Dunkirk in June 1940. The army doctors insisted George be taken off active service, because of fears that the shrapnel lodged in his throat and other places might move and kill him. The doctors recommended his attendance at football matches in the hope that the shouting would enable his voice to return. It worked almost too well! I remember being on the receiving end of dad’s parade ground bark on many occasions as a child.

Now with the 5th Buffs, he was promoted to Lance Corporal in August 1940 and to full Corporal soon after. In May 1941 he was promoted to Lance Sergeant based at the Infantry Training Corps in Canterbury, where he was involved in training new recruits. Unfortunately the deterioration in his health prevented George from carrying out his duties and  soon he voluntarily reverted to Corporal. George’s health had been in decline since Dunkirk and he had been admitted to hospital several times. Eventually he was reclassified to medical category C2.

In 1942 he was posted to the Southern Hospital in Dartford, where he acted as Storekeeper. In 1944 he was promoted to Sergeant.. His medical problems continued and he was admitted to hospital on several occasions. In spite of this, his release to civilian life was voluntarily deferred for two years in 1946, so he didn’t leave the army until January 1948. He was awarded the 1939-1945 Star, the Defence Medal and the War Medal 1939-45. He also received the Army Long service and Good Conduct medal. His testimonial says:

“An intelligent and loyal N.C.O. who has given excellent service. He has carried out the duties of a Storekeeper to an E.M.S. Group of Hospitals with efficiency and accuracy. A good disciplinarian. Thoroughly trustworthy and reliable and gets things done. Thoroughly recommended.”

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While he was working at the hospital he met Maud Lizzie Leeson and they married at Dartford Register Office on 8th November 1947. The witnesses were L. Leaford, Una D.P. Kember and J.W. Kember. At the time of the marriage George was living at 59 Bullace Lane, Dartford and Maud, who was a mental nursing sister, at Stone House, Dartford. They moved into 39 Fleet Road, Dartford and later moved to ‘Collingwood’, 20 Denver Road, Dartford.. Their first child John was born over three months prematurely and lived for less than one day. However, they later went on to have another son and a daughter.


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After the war George was employed at the school caretaker at Dartford Girls Grammar School, where George and Maud lived in a flat above the changing rooms. George defied the army doctors by spending many  years actively shovelling coal into the school’s boilers, polishing floors, etc. Now and then he received written thanks for his work at the school, especially after special events such as school plays.

George liked to tell of his encounters with people before they were famous. In particular, he recalled Sheila Hancock giving a fine performance in St. Joan when she was at the school. He also claimed to have caught two schoolboys from the boy’s grammar school trying to sneak a peek through the girl’s changing room windows. He claimed they were Michael Jagger and Keith Richards!

George and Maud, who he referred to as Gerry, liked to relax at the ‘Oddfellows’ pub, where George was awarded a medal for being the outstanding darts player in 1950. He was also a member of the Royal Antidiluvian Order of Buffaloes and was an active member of his local branch of the National Union of Public Employees (NUPE), briefly becoming Chairman. Although he no longer played any sports, he maintained a keen interest. His favourite TV programmes, ‘Grandstand’ on Saturday and cricket during the season on Sundays, were sacrosanct!

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George Andrews in 1981After another short period of ill-health George retired to Plymouth, Devon in January 1972. He spent much of his first few months of retirement in hospital. Before he finally left the school he was presented with an onyx carriage clock and an engraved copper rose bowl. He suffered a stroke in September 1976, three days after giving me away at my wedding. This was the first of a series of strokes that robbed him first of much of his long-term memory and then finally his short-term memory. He spent the last years of his life at Moorhaven Hospital near Ivybridge. Over the years he became a great favourite with the staff. Initially he was able to take part in occupational therapy, where he helped to make money boxes and stools, but eventually became too frail for such activities. George died in hospital on the 9th July 1984 from a combination of bronchopneumonia and senile dementia. He was cremated at Efford Crematorium in Plymouth a few days later and his ashes scattered in the crematorium garden by his widow.

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Photo Gallery

Caroline, George & Edith Andrews

Pte George Andrews

The Buffs

The Buffs - The Officers

At The Barracks

The Jolly Boys

Manoeuvres 1925

Washing Day

In Tropical Gear

In Rangoon?

Sports Platoon

Tug of War Team

In Dress Uniform

Sergeant Andrews

Sgt. George Andrews

The Wedding

George and Maud Andrews

George Andrews c.1957

George Andrews c. 1964

George Andrews 1981

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