George David Thurman Coleman


Personal Details

Born: 9 July 1898

Family: The only child of Frank Thurman and Mary E Coleman. He married Frances Hawley in Liverpool in 1920 and together they had two girls, Janet B and Rhea F.

Residence: Although George was born in Aston, Birmingham, Warwickshire, three years later the family were residing in Bilston Road, Wolverhampton. By 1911 they had moved to Market Drayton, Shropshire. According to school records George and his parents were living  at the Brewery House in Whitchurch, Shropshire by the start of the 1912 autumn term. His address in 1919 was 55 Wrexham Road, Whitchurch but two years later he was presumably in Derby where his two daughters were born. In August 1925 the family sailed to Quebec, Canada where George became a farmer.

Employment: George left school in February 1914 and was articled to a local auctioneer, F Lloyd. RAF details give his occupation as farming, working for a local farmer from 1912 to 1914. However, at this point he had changed his date of birth to 9th July 1894 i.e added four years to his age (see military other information).

Died: In 1989 in Manitoba, Canada, aged 91.

Military Details

Regiment: Royal Air Force (previously Royal Flying Corps, King’s Shropshire Light Infantry and Shropshire Yeomanry)

Rank: Flight Lieutenant (previously Private)

Service Number: As an officer in the RAF and RFC he did not have a service number. When serving in the KSLI his number was 230295 and in the Shropshire Yeomanry 1969.

Date of Enlistment: August 1914

Date of Discharge: After 28 January 1919

Reason for Discharge: Demobilisation

Other Information: From Sharon Blais, great grand-daughter who lives in Canada:

“George David Thurman Coleman was a pilot for sure. Flight Lieutenant Coleman, He had a little accident while taking Flight training at Abourkir, Egypt (near Alexandria). The aircraft was a Avro. I have a picture out of newspaper in honour of Veterans day in Steinbach, Manitoba where he lived till he passed away. Which is based on an interview they did with George. And the paper says that he transferred to the Royal Flying Corps in 1916.

In 1914 George David Coleman Thurman showed up at the recruiting office to join the cavalry regiment aged 16. He was told to talk a walk around the block. Maybe you’ll be a littler older when you come back. Half hour later he joined the Shropshire Yeomanry”.

Official government policy was that you had to be 18 to sign up and 19 to fight overseas. In the early twentieth century most people didn’t have birth certificates, so it was easy to lie about your age.

Medals and Awards

George was awarded the Campaign Medals (British War Medal, and Victory Medal).

Campaign Medals

Great War History Hub Whitchurch Shropshire Medals Front Image

The British War Medal (also known as 'Squeak') was a silver or bronze medal awarded to officers and men of the British and Imperial Forces who either entered a theatre of war or entered service overseas between 5th August 1914 and 11th November 1918 inclusive. This was later extended to services in Russia, Siberia and some other areas in 1919 and 1920. Approximately 6.5 million British War Medals were issued. Approximately 6.4 million of these were the silver versions of this medal. Around 110,000 of a bronze version were issued mainly to Chinese, Maltese and Indian Labour Corps. The front (obv or obverse) of the medal depicts the head of George V. The recipient's service number, rank, name and unit was impressed on the rim.

The Allied Victory Medal (also known as 'Wilfred') was issued by each of the allies. It was decided that each of the allies should each issue their own bronze victory medal with a similar design, similar equivalent wording and identical ribbon. The British medal was designed by W. McMillan. The front depicts a winged classical figure representing victory. Approximately 5.7 million victory medals were issued. Interestingly, eligibility for this medal was more restrictive and not everyone who received the British War Medal ('Squeak') also received the Victory Medal ('Wilfred'). However, in general, all recipients of 'Wilfred' also received 'Squeak' and all recipients of The 1914 Star or The 1914/1915 Star (also known as 'Pip') also received both 'Squeak' and 'Wilfred'. The recipient's service number, rank, name and unit was impressed on the rim.

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