George Henry Bruce

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George Henry Bruce c1916. Image courtesy Australian War Memorial.

BRUCE, George Henry

Service no: 2558 [1]

Place of birth: Bathurst, 16 July 1896

Address: Dripstone

Occupation: Clerk

Next of kin: Annie Bruce (mother), Dripstone

Date of enlistment: 14 June 1915

Place of enlistment: Liverpool

Age at enlistment: 21

Fate: Embarked HMAT A54 Runic, Sydney, 9 August 1915. Joined 13th Battalion, 8th Reinforcement, Egypt. Returned to Australia to convalesce after severe bout of enteric fever. Embarked A40 Ceramic, Sydney, to rejoin unit in France early 1917. Killed in action, France, 7 February 1917.

Date of death: 7 February 1917

George Henry Bruce, eldest son of William Bruce and his wife Annie Slattery was a worker on the railway at Dripstone when he enlisted on 14 June 1915. He embarked at Sydney via HMAT A54 Runic on 9 August 1915 for Egypt. While there he experienced a severe bout of enteric fever and returned to Australia to convalesce for three months.

George returned to the front line via HMAT A40 Ceramic and rejoined his unit now serving in France. Red Cross Wounded and Missing Files contain reports of his death from a fellow soldier who knew him well:

On or about the 6th February we were engaged in a stunt at Flers. We hopped over on February 4th,
and on the day after the stunt we were resting in a trench called the “Greasy” Trench, just outside Flers.
We shared the same dugout and he was at the dugout entrance, digging. While digging he hit a bomb with his spade and exploded it.
He was killed outright by the explosion. He was buried on the top of the trench, which was situated on the top of Flers Ridge just beyond the village.

There is no known grave for Private George Henry Bruce, he is remembered on the Orange Railway Ambulance Rifle Club Honour Roll; St Joseph’s Church Orange Honour Roll, on panel number 68 on the Roll of Honour at the Australian War Memorial in Canberra and on the Australian National Memorial at Villers-Bretonneux in France.

George was one of 23 men from Dripstone who volunteered to serve in WWI, and one of the five who were killed in action.

Also serving from the same family was George’s brother, John Michael Bruce, born 29 April 1897. He was a junior porter on the railway at Dripstone and enlisted at Bathurst on 17 November 1917. He married Margaret M Syphers in 1918 prior to embarking HMAT Port Darwin. John marched into France with the 1st Light Horse Regiment. He returned to Australia on 19 April 1919 and died in New South Wales in 1978.

  • Sharon Jameson and Margaret Nugent, January 2019
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