STONE, GEORGE, MiD, 1BN

From IG History, FitzGerald:


“Captain Gordon-Watson and a couple of men drove the charabanc away just after eight o'clock; the remainder set off in single file to march down the road to Rognan; there were twenty-three of them, led by Drum-Major Stone followed by Sergeant Ward and Guardsman Sullivan. The Regimental Sergeant-Major brought up the rear. They had not gone very far when a machine-gun suddenly opened fire on them form a farm-house 200 yards off the road. "We never knew how it got there."  Drum Major Stone ran to the woods on the left of the road. The German machine-gun continued firing, but the pipers with Brens could not locate it. "Make a dash for it," shouted R.S.M. Stack and ran across a field to a gully behind the house. He was followed by one Guardsman; the remainder stayed in the ditch. The Sergeant-Major and the Guardsman crawled down to the village of Nesby, two miles from Rognan. Here they expected to find No. 3 Independent Company, but heard instead the familiar challenge of Irish Guards. A platoon of No. 3 Company and one from No. 4 Company under Captain P. Whitefoord, M.C. and Lieutenant D. Cole, had taken their place and held the position til midnight.


...


"At midnight," says the War Diary, "the Battalion, less those unaccounted for, left Rognan by 'puffer' for Finneid." "Those unaccounted for," included the whole of No. 2 Company, half of Battalion H.Q. and a few men of No. 3 Company. The Battalion landed at Finneid early the next morning, the 27th May [1940], and marched to Fauske.


...


By the evening the only men still missing were the twenty men of Battalion H.Q. under Sergeant Ward. Drum-Major Stone left them in the ditch, when he saw that they could not cross the road to join him in the woods. When he eventually reached Rognan the boasts had gone and the Germans were marching in threes down the street. He walked into Fauske alone, and promptly wrote a report for the Chief Cipher Officer, Harstad - "Sir, I have the honour to report that Battalion H.Q. was cut off and came under heavy machine-gun fire. I escaped with my cipher into the woods, but there finding that the chances of escape were small I destroyed the cipher by fire."”



From Irish Guards Journal 1961:


“Garrison Sergeant-Major GEORGE STONE, M.B.E.


George left his home in Waterford as a mere boy of 15 years in August, 1927. He reported to the 1st Battalion Irish Guards at Wellington Barracks and soon wondered what he had let himself into. After service in Egypt and Palestine his musical ability and his love of pageantry soon helped him on his way to the rank of Drum Major (although he describes it as "the long hard struggle"). The War commenced and George soon found himself in strange circumstances in Norway with the 1st Battalion Irish Guards, where he was Mentioned in Despatches for his good work with the Intelligence Section. He later saw service during the War with his Battalion in North Africa and on the Anzio Beach-head in Italy.


After the War he has seen service in Palestine (second visit), Tripoli and Germany, and it was during his service in Germany in 1952 that his tour of duty was curtailed by his call for duty and promotion to Garrison Sergeant-Major at London District. His previous service as Drum Major, and his exceptional memory for all details connected with Ceremonial Parades, has helped him to enjoy immensely his present exacting position.


Thirty-three years service, eleven medals earned during peace and War. Visits to many parts of the world - who can say that this life with the Irish Guards hasn't been splendid, exciting and worthwhile?”


From Irish Guards Journal, 1962:


“GARRISON SERGEANT-MAJOR G. STONE, M.B.E.

(Reproduced from Household Brigade Magazine)

IRISH GUARDS


There cannot be many Adjutants of London Battalions, who in the last ten years have not sought the advice and assistance of Garrison Sergeant-Major Stone, in a variety of ceremonial matters. He was posted to Headquarters, London District, at the time of the late King's funeral, and from that date onwards he has taken a major part in the planning and execution of all the main ceremonial parades which have been held in London. A succession of A.A.G.s London District and Brigade Majors, Household Brigade have vied with each other for his services, and on the few occasion when he has not been required by either, it is fairly certain that he has been helping the War Office or organisations further afield, in a variety of functions in which the word "parade" appears.


Since his first appearance at the dead of night, measuring the route for the King's funeral from Westminster to Paddington Station, there can hardly be a street or square in London which has not felt the weight of his pace-stick during the quiet hours of the night. He once nearly met his end during a similar venture in the Champs Elysees, having failed to appreciate the fact that there are no quiet hours in Paris, and that Parisian drivers consider Sergeant-Majors with pace-sticks to be fair game at four o'clock in the morning.


Perhaps one of his most spectacular achievements in the annual training of the Massed Bands for the Queen's Birthday Parade. Now that there is no Chelsea Barracks, this performance can be watched through the bars at Wellington in comparative safety. But, apart from the Brigade Major, who has a horse on which to escape, only Sergeant-Major Stone can venture near the mass of musicians when they begin their spin wheel. He alone appears to know what goes on in this complicated manoeuvre, and somehow everyone always re-appears facing the same direction. So far there have been no fatalities, but one never ceases to wonder how it is that some of the small musicians are not trampled under foot.


George Stone enlisted as a boy in the Irish Guards in 1927, and served as a Drummer from that date until March, 1939, when he transferred to the Royal Inniskilling Fusiliers as Drum-Major. However, when the war began six months later, a vacancy occurred in the 1st Battalion as Drum Major, so he transferred back to the Regiment, and served in that capacity during the campaign in Norway, where, when acting as Intelligence Sergeant, he was Mentioned in Despatches for his action in destroying secret documents when temporarily cut off by the enemy.


In 1941 he "went to duty" for the first time as a Company Sergeant-Major in the 1st Battalion, and in 1943 moved with the Battalion to North Africa. On arrival in North Africa, the Battalion took up its allocated positions in the Medjez El Bab sector, and it was at this time that the specialist platoons of the Battalion were grouped together in a single company, and he then became the first Company Sergeant-Major of the newly designation Support Company, and it was very largely due to his encouragement and common sense that it was quickly welded into a most efficient and happy company. He remained with Support Company during the time that he Battalion was in Tunisia, and moved with it to Italy during the winter.


The following year he continued to serve with Support Company, and went with it into Anzio. During this time the Company suffered almost one hundred per cent. casualties, and yet the standard he maintained in it was never lowered, and his men knew that wherever they were, his familiar figure would appear just when he was most needed for encouragement or direction. When the Battalion returned home from Italy during the spring of 1944, they were quartered temporarily in London, and it was at this time that the remnants of the Battalion provided King's Guard. There was no Drum Major in the Battalion at the time, and the only person who could act as Drum Major on this occasion was himself, and he was disguised as a Sergeant for the day, and led the King's Guards when it mounted.


After the war he served as Drill Sergeant at No. 1 Guards Training Battalion for two years, and returned to the 1st Battalion in time to go to Palestine at the beginning of 1947, where he remained until the final evacuation the following year.


After eighteen months in Chelsea Barracks, he went out to Germany with the Battalion and his appointment as Garrison Sergeant-Major, H.Q., London District, followed. It could not have been a happier or more appropriate one. His great experience for the position, and his cheerful and imperturbable manner, which so frequently helped to keep up morale in the face of the enemy, must similarly on many occasions have comforted his superior officers in the face of imminent ceremonial disasters, which somehow he always seems to manage to avert.


His service to the Household Brigade and London District was recognised in 1959 with the award of the M.B.E. He also holds the Royal Victorian Medal and the Meritorious Service Medal.”


A copy of his M.B.E. recommendation can be obtained by clicking here.


Click here to view part of his retirement speech, at 2 minutes, 30 seconds.


Click here to view 1Bn group photo, Chelsea Barracks, 1944




Quis Separabit


Sources: History of the IG in Second World War, FitzGerald; IG Journal, 1961; 1962; The Times

Photos: IG Journal, 1962; You tube