I know he loved me dearly’
young years, which George had spent around the streets of the Mother Town, that war broke out in Europe and a 22 -year-old George along with three of his brothers we called to war in 1914.
Joining the Royal engineers, it wasn’t long before George found himself in the thick of the war, which according to his Granddaughter, Phillipa Marson, left its scars on Georges mind. She said: “He never talked much about the war but he did recall seeing on a hill hundreds of Scottish lads, who’d been killed and said that as the wind cut through it blew their kilts about.
“Another time he briefly talked to me about watching the lads go out over the top of the trenches, knowing they would not be coming back.”
George served in the Royal Engineers up until the end of the war and although he survived, his three brothers were not so fortunate.
The time spent serving his country during those four years, between 1914-18, earned George his first of five medals the Star, British War medal and Victory medal.
Following the war George met Anne Lewis and several years later in 1921 the two young lovers got married.
Despite his age, 47, meaning he could not serve overseas when the Second World War broke out in 1939. George did not let that stop him answering the call of duty, he enlisted in the Home Guard defending the local population of the Potteries for the duration of the conflict.
It was while on duty one night that George was called in to action.
A German bomber came down close to where he was stationed, killing several of the crew. George, quick to action, apprehended the two surviving crew, who had bailed out, arresting them and handing them over to be taken into custody by the Army. Searching the scene George came across a silver cigarette holder, belonging to one of the German crew - which he kept as a souvenir.
It was an act which led George to earn a further two medals for defence of the UK in 1945.
Having served and survived two World Wars, George hung up his helmet and turned his hand to serving the public by opening a shop selling meats and other produce, which as Phillipa recalls, thanks to her mother was also a benefit to those less fortunate than the paying customers. She said: “When my grandad use to cut up the ham and other food, there would often be of cuts which would go by the side and not necessarily sold, so my mother would scoop them up and when organisations such as the Sisters of the Poor, came around she would give them what food was going spare.”
George worked at the Hanley market stall until he was in his 80s when he retired, unfortunately not long after calling time on his often colourful working life George was involved in a bad car accident while out driving the white van which he used for deliveries and picking up produce for the business.
Granddaughter Philippa said:“he had kept hold of the van, after he retired, he’d driven it for years and then not long after stopping working he had a really bad accident which left him unable to fully look after himself.”
With a lifetime of being active and always on the go, George now found himself restricted in his movements, struggling to deal with the day to day.
Phillipa who was in her 20s at the time, had been away from the area for sometime, returned home to find her grandfather a far different person, physically, than she remembered.
She said: “He wasn’t able to cook for himself or do a lot of the day to day things so I started to look after him, taking him meals and helping with those basic things.”
George who despite his time in the Royal Engineers, Home Guard and growing up around the potbanks of Burslem never, according to Philippa, smoked or drank.
Phillipa said of her grandfather: “He was a straight, no-nonsense man who said what he thought and this didn’t always go down well.
“Many saw my grandad as difficult to talk to and get on with but although he didn’t talk much and we would always eat in silence, and he never did things like hug, I knew he loved me.”
Following George’s accident he sold the house he’d lived in for decades and had a bungalow built, it was in here that Phillipa has one of her fondest memories of her Grandad.
She said: “There was one time which I will always remember fondly. He smoked a pipe and would often do so in the bedroom. One day he said to me “there’s fleas on my mattress.”
“He kept on about it for a while and wanted to throw it out, so I went to take a look.
“Going into his bedroom I saw all these little black specks over the mattress, as I looked closer they weren’t moving so I dusted it with my hand - it was tobacco from his pipe.”
George who died in 1978, aged 86 will always be remembered by his granddaughter, Phillipa, as the no-nonsense man who served his country and the community, who won the London to Brighton walk and who despite not showing it, loved her dearly.
A silver cigerette holder George got from a German Bomber shot down during the Second World War. George Chetwynd dressed for service during the First World War.