Bruce, George James

Captain / Royal Irish Rifles

1880 - 1918

George James Bruce was born 3 July 1800, the eldest son of Samuel Bruce Esq., J.P., and Julia, daughter of Sir George Colthurst of Norton Hall, Campden, Gloucestershire.

He came to Winchester College from Fonthill School in May 1894 and was in G House, Sergeant's. He was Commoner Prefect and a member of Sixth Book, and played in Lords XI in 1898 and 1899.

George left Winchester in the summer of 1899 having been elected to a Scholarship at New College, Oxford. He took his degree in Natural Science in 1903. He afterwards became Managing Director of the Comber Distilleries Company, Ltd., of which his father was chairman.

In August 1914, George volunteered for service and obtained a commission in the 13th Royal Irish Rifles (Ulster Division). He proceeded to France with his battalion in October 1915, and in the following January was promoted to be General Staff Officer on the staff of the Ulster Division. He was mentioned in Despatches in July of that year, received the M.C. in June 1917, a Bar in November 1917 after the Battle of Cambrai, and was awarded the D.S.O. for gallantry during the retreat of March 1918. He is mentioned in  Cyril Falls' History of the 36th (Ulster) Division (Linenhall Press, Belfast 1922) who describes in detail the chaotic events of the Retreat but that 'the Brigade Major, Captain G J Bruce, rode forward, rallied the men, and galloped into the village at their head. The Germans were driven out. It was a wonderful example of the inspiration of personal gallantry and leadership upon weary and disheartened men'. 

Bruce was killed in action at Molenhoek on 2 October 1918 while making his way forward through the barrage.

He married Miss Hilda Blakiston-Houston in September 1907 and left four children. His sons Michael and William were both pupils at Winchester - Michael from 1923-1928 and William from 1929-1934. William was killed in an aeroplane accident at Starcross in Devon in 1937.

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