Memorial .Coulommiers Communal CemeteryA. 1.

Awards & Titles:


Early Life :

Extensive Research has bee conducted by David Earley on this soldier. See:

Military :

Unit :  1/Dorset Regiment 

Action : The Battle of the Aisne 1914 and subsidiary actions 

Action :

LIEUTENANT ATHELSTAN KEY DURANCE GEORGE, 1st BATTN. DORSETSHIRE REGIMENT, was born at Beverstone House, Brixton, Surrey, on the 25th of March, 1887, and was the son of Arthur Durance and Charlotte Ada George, of Alderholt, Bournemouth (West), grandson of Jonathan Muckleston Key, great-nephew of Sir Jolin Key, Bart., and direct descendant, through the female line, of Sir William Bloet, who came over with William the Conqueror in 1066. Lieutenant George commenced his education at Hailey, Bournemouth, going afterwards to Tonbridge School, thence to Caius College, Cambridge. He began his military career in the King's (Liverpool Regiment), joining subsequently the 2nd Battalion Dorsetshire Regiment at Madras. While in India he served on the Staff as A.D.C. to Lord Sydenham, Governor of Bombay, and Sir Maurice Hammick, K.C.M.G., Governor of Madras. He returned to England in March 1913, and joined the 1st Battalion of his regiment at Belfast, from which station he proceeded with it to the front. He was shot through the head at Bezu-le-Query on the 11th September, 1914, while in the trenches, urging his men not to expose their heads. He was carried to the Hospice at Coulommiers, where he died on the 14th September, never having regained consciousness, and was buried, with military honours, in the cemetery of that town. Under date 10th March, 1915, Brigadier-General Bols, D.S.O., then commanding the battalion, wrote the following letter to Lt George’s father that offers an insight into the early days of the war: I am glad that you have written to me, as I have often wished to tell his friends and relatives how deeply every officer and man of the Dorsets grieved with you at the loss of your dear son. During the period which followed our fights on the Marne there was little time to write, or even to think. Then came the rush northwards, and the great fight of the battalion at Givenchy, where we lost three-quarters of our men, and all but four of our original corps of officers, and then I had to spend ten weeks in England recovering from wounds. I first met your son about last May when he returned to Belfast after going through a course of flying, and I think that a month later he returned to England to begin a course of signalling, from which he returned just before mobilisation, so that I did not get to know him well till the beginning of the war. During those first six weeks he was—I think there is only one word to describe him—magnificent. Always cheerful ; always caring for others ; watching over his men, no matter how weary : never sparing himself. To my mind he was the ideal of a British officer, gallant and brave, of course, but in addition tireless in helping others who did not posess his powers of mind and body. That fight near Bezu, on the Marne, cost us dear, for with your dear son fell Captain Roe and Captain Priestley. The next morning all were seen, and hopes were given that all would survive, but in each case our hopes were dashed. I fear this is a poor sketch to give you of one who earned our love and esteem to so great a degree. I know his memory will live long in the Dorsets. The aero certificate is confirmed as Aero Certificate No 761 Lieut. Athelstan Key Durance George (1st Dorsetshire Regt.) flying a Bristol Biplane, Bristol School, Salisbury Plain on April 3rd, I914. Captain and Adjutant Ransome, writing in January 1915, wrote : May I, even at this late date, offer my sympathy to you in the loss you have sustained ? I knew your son well, and am only too conscious of what a loss he is to the battalion. He was an exceptionally good officer—one of those whose influence did much towards bringing the Dorsets to the standard which this war has, I think, proved them to have reached. Lieutenant George was a member of the Junior Naval and Military Club, and was unmarried. There is a memorial to him in Romsey Abbey, Hampshire which reads; “Lieut. Athelstan Key Durrance George, late of the 1st Battalion Dorset Regiment who fell mortally wounded at the battle of the Marne in France on September 14th 1914 during the Great War aged 27 years and was buried at Coulommiers. He was the second son of Arthur Durrance and Charlotte Ada George of this parish and grandson of Josiah and Rachel Olive George of this parish. Greater love hath no man than this that a man lay down his life for his friends”

12 - 15 September 1914. Following the defeat and retreat from the Marne, the German army stood and defended the next defensible river, the Aisne. This offered significant defensive potential on the high bluffs overlooking the river but the BEF succeeded in pushing back the Germans. The first examples of trench warfare emerged on the Aisne as trenches became necessary to offer protection from concentrated artillery barrages.

Masonic :

TypeLodge Name and No.Province/District :
Mother : Lodge of Faith, Hope and Charity No. 1285 E.C.Madras

12th July 1912
12th August 1912
12th September 1912

Source :

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Additional Source:

Last Updated: 2018-01-19 15:38:12