b. 07/04/1880 Yokohama, Japan. d. 26/08/1938 Barton on Sea, Hampshire.
George Campbell Wheeler (1880-1938) was born on 7th April 1880 at Yokohama, Japan, a second son of Dr Edwin Wheeler. The Wheelers were originally from Belfast, Ireland and Edwin had been educated at Queen’s College, Belfast, and after serving in the Royal Navy as fleet surgeon took up private practice in Japan. George was educated at Bedford School from 1893-1897, and represented the school at cricket and rugby. After deciding on a military career, he moved to Woolwich and then to Sandhurst.
He entered the Army with a commission on 20th January 1900 as a 2nd Lieutenant and joined the Indian Army on 18th April 1901. He was a linguist and was fluent in French, German, Japanese and Hindustani. His first regiment was the East Yorkshire Regiment, then serving in India, which was composed mainly of men from Ireland. Wheeler joined the 2/9th Gurkhas in early 1902 and was promoted to Lieutenant in April, then Captain in 1909 and substantive Major on 1st September 1915.
In 1916, Wheeler sailed with his Regiment to Mesopotamia, as part of 2nd Battalion, 9th Gurkha Rifles, as part of the 37th Infantry Brigade, 14th (Indian) Division. On 23rd February 1917 at Shumran on the River Tigris, Mesopotamia, Major Wheeler, together with one Gurkha officer and eight men crossed the river and rushed the enemy's trench in the face of very heavy fire. Having obtained a footing on the far bank, he was almost immediately counter-attacked by the enemy with a party of bombers. Major Wheeler at once led a charge, receiving in the process a severe bayonet wound in the head. In spite of this, however, he managed to disperse the enemy and consolidate his position.
After the war, he was presented with his VC by King George V at Buckingham Palace on 26th July 1919. He was later made acting Lieutenant Colonel from December 1921 of the 1st Battalion, 9th Gurkha Rifles when they proceeded on active service in operations against th Moplahs in Malabar in south India. He held the rank until January 1922 and finished his military career as commandant of military police at Port Blair in the Andaman Islands, where he served for 18 months.
Wheeler later retired to Barton-on-Sea, Hampshire, where he lived at Maryville, at the eastern end of Beech Avenue. He had a keen interest in various local affairs, including the annual Remembrance Day service, and was a member of the Conservative Club. Wheeler died on 26th August 1938 at Grove Nursing Home of pneumonia after an operation and was buried at St Mary Magdalene Church, New Milton, Hampshire. After his death, one of his three sons, Captain D.E.B. Wheeler RAF, presented his father’s VC to the National Army Museum. His others medals include the British War Medal 1914-20, Victory Medal 1914-19 with Mentioned in Despatches oakleaf, India General Service Medal 1903-1935 with two clasps, and George VI Coronation Medal 1937. His medals are not currently on display at the National Army Museum.
LOCATION OF MEDAL: NATIONAL ARMY MUSEUM, CHELSEA, LONDON.
BURIAL PLACE: ST MARY MAGDALENE CHURCH, NEW MILTON, HAMPSHIRE
George Campbell Wheeler's medals on the National Army Museum, Chelsea website.
National Memorial Arboretum
Plaque in the Gurkha Museum, Winchester
War Illustrated, 30th June 1917
Freemasons Memorial, London (Brian Drummond)