b. 07/07/1880 Paddington, London. d. 07/01/1971 Cobham, Surrey
George Thomas Dorrell (1880-1971) was born at 23 G Street (later Galton Street), Queen’s Park Estate, Paddington, London on 7th July 1880. His father was Thomas Richard Dorrell, a cab driver. His mother was Emma nee Butcher. They were married in the Kensington district sometime in 1878. George had two brothers and five sisters. The family moved around London during George’s childhood, living in Willesden, Paddington and Carlton Vale. George was educated at Campbell Street School, Maida Vale, London.
He enlisted underage on 2nd December 1895, giving his date of birth as 2nd July 1876. He served in South Africa from 1899 to 1902 and then in India until March 1906, when he returned to England. He had been promoted to Sergeant, and was promoted further to Battery Quartermaster Sergeant in December 1908 and the Battery Sergeant Major in 1911. He married Lucy nee Frost, an elementary school teacher from Manchester on 17th October 1914. They had three children – Lucy Joyce (b1917) and twins Pamela and George Thomas Edwin (b1920).
George arrived in France with L Battery on 16th August 1914. On 1st September 1914, at Néry, France, during a fierce attack by the enemy, all the officers of 'L' Battery were either killed or wounded, including the officer (Edward Kinder Bradbury) in command, who, although having had one leg taken off by a shell, continued to direct the firing until he died. Battery Sergeant-Major Dorrell then took over command with the support of a sergeant (David Nelson) and continued to fire one of the guns until all the ammunition was expended.
He was gazetted for the VC alongside Bradbury and Nelson on 16th November 1914. His VC was presented to him by King George V at Buckingham Palace on 13th January 1915. He was promoted to Temporary Lieutenant, Temporary Captain and then Lieutenant by June 1915. He continued to move up the ranks throughout 1916, becoming Commander of A/122 Battery RFA in September 1916. He was then promoted to Acting Major and appointed Commander of B/190 Battery RFA in March 1917. He held his command until July 1919. He was appointed Adjutant 90th (1st London) Field Brigade RFA TF on 2nd March 1920. He retired from the Regular Army on 23rd September 1921 with the rank of Major and seniority from 14th March 1919. The same day he was granted a commission in the TF as a Captain and continued as Adjutant of 90th (1st London) Field Brigade at Handel Street, London, until 16th September 1926.
On 3rd June 1925 he was awarded the MBE for his services with the 90th (1st London) Field Brigade RFA. The MBE was presented to him by King George V at Buckingham Palace on 4th July 1925. Having attained the age limit of liability to recall he ceased to belong to the Reserve of Officers on 2nd July 1926. He relinquished his TA commission on attaining the age limit on 17th October 1928 and transferred into the Regular Army Reserve of Officers with seniority.
In the Second World War he served in the Home Guard from May 1940 and was promoted to Major and appointed Company Commander in 27th County of London (Roehampton) Battalion on 1st February 1941. James Leach VC served in the same unit as him. He attended the Nery Day celebrations at Hildesheim, West Germany in 1956, during which he handed over Edward Bradbury’s VC to L (Nery) Battery RHA on behalf of Bradbury’s nephew.
George died at his home at 30 Bray Road, Cobham, Surrey on 7th January 1971. He was cremated at Randall’s Park Crematorium, Leatherhead, Surrey and his ashes were scattered there. In addition to the VC and MBE, he was awarded the Queen’s South Africa Medal with six clasps, King’s South Africa Medal with two clasps, 1914 Star with Mons clasp, British War Medal 1914-20, Victory Medal 1914-19 with Mentioned in Despatches oak leaf, Defence Medal 1939-45, Army Long Service & Good Conduct Medal, George VI Coronation Medal of 1937 and Elizabeth II Coronation Medal of 1953. His VC is owned by L (Nery) Battery RHA and is currently on loan to the Imperial War Museum alongside the other two Nery VCs.
LOCATION OF MEDAL: LORD ASHCROFT GALLERY, IMPERIAL WAR MUSEUM.
BURIAL PLACE: RANDALL'S PARK CREMATORIUM, LEATHERHEAD, SURREY. ASHES SCATTERED PLOT P-9, K7
George Dorrell's Centenary Plaque in the borough of Kensington and Chelsea.
George Dorrell's VC (pictured centre) alongside his two fellow "Nery VC's" - Edward Bradbury VC and David Nelson VC, on display at Lord Ashcroft Gallery, Imperial War Museum (Aug 2014).
Wandsworth Town Hall
RA Chapel, Woolwich
War Illustrated, 5th May 1917
Freemason's Memorial, London