George William Chafer V.C. – Small in Stature; Big in Heart

Private George W Chafer V.C.

George William Chafer, an orphan of a little over five feet in height was not your typical Victoria Cross recipient; indeed, he is the smallest man to ever receive the award. What he lacked in stature though, he more than made up for in courage and determination.

Born in Bradford in 1894, George lost his Father when he was an infant, and was orphaned before his 16th Birthday. He was brought up by his Aunt and Uncle before moving in with the Reed Family in Rotherham and taking up a job as a weigh clerk at the Silverwood Colliery.

In 1915 George joined the 1st Battalion East Yorkshire Regiment; he was mocked by his friends at the time, who said he was far too small to join the army. Undeterred he completed his training as was sent to France around Christmas time.

On the night of the 4th of June 1916, during a very heavy enemy bombardment, a messenger carrying an important message to a company commander was knocked unconscious and half buried when an artillery shell exploded nearby. George, on seeing the messenger decided that the message must be of great importance and on his own initiative he grasped it from the unconscious man.

Battle of the Somme 1916

Although severely wounded in three places himself, and half choked and blinded by gas, he ran along the ruined parapet under heavy enemy fire and just succeeded in delivering it to the company commander before collapsing as a result of his own injuries.

For his efforts he was awarded the Victoria Cross and the Russian Order of St George, which was personally handed to him by the Tsar of Russia. He also unfortunately lost his left leg as a result of the injuries he received.

After the war he went on to work as a milk man but struggled to make ends meet as the coal stoppage meant that people could not afford to pay him, and as a result he could not afford to pay his suppliers. He eventually gave up the milk round and used the small amount of capital he retained to set up as a poultry farmer.

George passed away at his home in Rotherham at the age of 71.

October 12th – On this Day in…

RAF Strike by Day and Night

October 12th 1941

Blenheim Bombers

After daylight sweeps over the channel in which RAF fighters shot down seven enemy fighter aircraft for the loss of two aircraft, the RAF carried out another fierce bombing raid on the French side of the channel the same night.

Large fires were set on the docks at Boulogne, after a daylight sweep as the night bombers concentrated on targets further inland. Another formation of Blenheims, escorted by fighters attacked an enemy convoy of the coast of Holland.

Nazis Admit ‘Were on the Defensive’

October 12th 1942

Germans on the Defensive

A sensational statement on German radio by a military spokesman admitted that Hitler was turning from the offensive to the defensive. That is the position on the eve of the fourth winter of the war declared the spokesman in a broadcast to millions of German listeners. The German listeners were also to that “The end of the war cannot be foreseen.”

“The speeches we heard from the Fuhrer and Marshall Goering express a transition in the military situation” the spokesman said.

Fifth Push 15 miles

Clark says ‘Hit ‘em hard’

October 12th 1943

American Soldiers of the Fifth Advance

The right wing of General Clark’s Fifth Army has advanced fifteen miles in twenty-four hours and has begun to turn the Volturno Line. The British and American troops are advancing through pelting rain, often knee deep in mud. They have penetrated deep into mountainous terrain, although German resistance is now said to be stiffening.

According to Berlin the allies have opened up a fierce artillery barrage, and the battle for the Volturno crossing is fast approaching.