b. 11/10/1890 London. d. 02/07/1916 Hamel, France.
Geoffrey St George Shillington Cather (1890-1916) was born at 55 Christchurch Road, Streatham Hill, London on 11th October 1890. His father was Robert Gabriel Cather, who was a partner in a tea merchants. His mother was Margaret Matilda nee Shillington, who hailed from Portadown in County Armagh. Geoffrey had one brother, Dermot Patrick Cather, who served in the Royal Navy during the Great War.
Geoffrey was educated at Hazelwood Prep School in Limpsfield from September 1900 and Rugby School from 1903. He suffered from scarlet fever in 1906 and was temporarily removed from school to recuperate. In June 1908 he left Rugby following the death of his father. He was then employed by Tetley’s in London, travelling to America and Canada in 1911 and returned to the London branch in May 1914.
He enlisted with the 28th London Regiment (Artist’s Rifles) in January 1909 and served as a Private until February 1911, when he resigned to go to America on business. He enlisted in 19th Royal Fusiliers (2nd Public Schools Battalion) on 3rd September 1914 and was commissioned into the Royal Irish Fusiliers on 22nd May 1915, serving alongside his uncle and cousin, Major David Shillington and Lieutenant Thomas Shillington. Geoffrey arrived in France on 5th October 1915, and was promoted to Lieutenant and appointed Adjutant on 7th December 1915.
On 1st July 1916, near Hamel, France, from 7 p.m. till midnight he searched ‘No Man’s Land’, and brought in three wounded men. Next morning at 8 a.m. he continued his search, brought in another wounded man, and gave water to others, arranging for their rescue later. Finally, at 10.30 a.m., he took out water to another man, and was proceeding further on when he was himself killed. All this was carried out in full view of the enemy, and under direct machine gun fire and intermittent artillery fire.
His body was identified and his ID discs were removed by fellow officers, but his remains could not be identified later and he is commemorated on the Thiepval Memorial. As he never married, the VC was presented to his mother by King George V at Buckingham Palace on 31st March 1917. In addition to the VC, he was awarded the 1914-15 Star, British War Medal 1914-20, and Victory Medal 1914-19. The medals were presented to the Regiment in 1979 by his brother, Dermot. They are held by the Royal Irish Fusiliers Museum, Armagh, Northern Ireland.
LOCATION OF MEDAL: ROYAL IRISH FUSILIERS MUSEUM, ARMAGH, N IRELAND.
BURIAL PLACE: NO KNOWN GRAVE – ON THIEPVAL MEMORIAL, FRANCE. PIER AND FACE 15A
Nigel Merlin – Image of the Cather VC Stone at Portadown, Northern Ireland.
Thomas Stewart – Image of the VC Memorial at St Anne’s, Belfast, Northern Ireland.