Captain (Temporary Major) George Christopher Samuel, 9th Battery, 82nd Brigade, Royal Field Artillery, died in France on 16th August 1918 as a result of wounds received in action on 10th August. Born in 1881 in Penge, Surrey, he was the eldest son and the second of the five children of parents George (a Baptist minister) and Mary (née Onions) who had married in 1878. Their eldest daughter, Elizabeth Webb Samuel (1879-1967) was born in Penge.
By the time George Christopher Samuel was two years old, the family had moved to Birmingham, where his father was minister of Christ Church, Aston. His younger siblings – Alexander Onions (1883-1942), Margaret Hannah (born 1885) and Mary Gladys (born 1887) – were all born in Aston.
Their father, Rev. George Samuel, died in 1893, at which time the family was living at 205 Church Hill Road, Handsworth. By 1901, the family was still living in Handsworth, although George Christopher Samuel was a lodger in Kensington. He had returned to the family home in Handsworth by 1911, where he was recorded as an engineer. Kelly’s Directory, 1915 suggests that he was a consulting engineer, practising at Edmund Street, Birmingham.
In 1912 he married Alma Gordon Richards in London, and the couple set up home in Wiltshire, where their son, Adrian Christopher Ian Samuel (1915-2010), known as Ian, was baptised in 1916. Ian joined the Diplomatic Service in 1938 and went on to serve as a Pilot Officer in the Royal Air Force Volunteer Reserve during the Second World War. He married in Dublin in 1942, at which time he gave his home address as being in Sutton Coldfield.
The Birmingham Daily Post of 26th September 1914 announced that Lieutenant George Christopher Samuel from the Territorial Force (T.F.) was to be a Captain with the 3rd Midland Brigade, Royal Field Artillery. In July 1915, he was commissioned Temporary Major and, in May 1916, he was seconded for duty with a T.F. Artillery Training School. His medal index card indicates that he first entered a Theatre of War on 22nd October 1917 and that he died of wounds. He is buried at Etretrat Churchyard Extension.
His only brother, Alexander Onions Samuel, became a bank clerk and worked for Lloyds Bank 1898-1902. After a few months working for a temperance organisation in Birmingham, he then worked for local newspapers in the city. He lived in America 1913-1915, returning to England to serve in the First World War. He was invalided out in 1917. He married twice, and upon his second marriage, to Julia Lyle of New Jersey, he changed his name by deed poll to adopt the additional name of Lyle, becoming known as Alexander Lyle-Samuel. He served as MP for Eye, East Suffolk 1918-1923. Returning to America, he died in New York in 1942.
Major G. C. Samuel is commemorated locally on Barston war memorial, but we don’t know what his connection was with the village. He is commemorated on his parents’ grave at Key Hill Cemetery, Birmingham
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