b. 09/12/1894 London. d. 02/02/1978 Epping, Australia.
George Cartwright (1894-1978) was born on 9th December 1894 at South Kensington, London, son of William Edward Cartwright, coach trimmer, and his wife Elizabeth, née Stracey. Migrating alone to Australia in 1912, George took a job as a labourer on a sheep station in the Elsmore district, near Inverell, New South Wales. On 16th December 1915 he enlisted in the Australian Imperial Force and became an original member of the 33rd Battalion, formed in February 1916 as part of the new 3rd Division. In May he embarked for England where the division trained before moving to France in November. Cartwright was wounded in action on 9th June 1917 at Messines, Belgium, but remained on duty. He was one of 271 officers and soldiers from the battalion who were victims of the Germans’ concentrated gas-attack at Villers-Bretonneux, France, on 17th April 1918. After being hospitalized, he rejoined his unit in June.
On 31st August 1918 the Australian Corps assaulted the enemy’s formidable position at Mont St Quentin, overlooking Péronne. The 33rd Battalion attacked south-west of Bouchavesnes at 5.40 a.m. Lacking adequate artillery support at the outset, the leading troops were stopped by machine-gun fire from a post at the corner of Road Wood. Without hesitation, Private Cartwright stood up and walked towards the gun, firing his rifle from the shoulder: he shot the gunner and two who tried to replace him. Cartwright then threw a bomb at the post and, covered by the explosion, rushed forward, capturing the gun and nine German soldiers. Cheering loudly, the Australians renewed their advance. Cartwright was awarded the Victoria Cross. On 30th September, during the attack on the Hindenburg line, he was wounded in the head and left arm, and evacuated to England. Having received his V.C. from King George V, he returned to Australia and was discharged from the A.I.F. on 16th May 1919.
Cartwright lived in Sydney and worked as a motor mechanic. On 25th June 1921 he married Elsie Broker at St Stephen’s Anglican Church, Chatswood; they were to have two children before being divorced. He served in the Militia’s 4th-3rd Battalion and was commissioned on 25th February 1932. Mobilized for full-time service on 5 March 1940, he was promoted captain (1942) and performed training and amenities duties in Australia. Cartwright was placed on the Retired List on 11th May 1946. He found employment as an assistant-cashier and married Evelyn Mary Short on 4th September 1948 in the Congregational Church, Pitt Street, Sydney.
In 1956 Cartwright visited London for the V.C. centenary celebrations; he returned there for biennial reunions of the Victoria Cross and George Cross Association. He was a quiet, unassuming man, 5 ft 7 ins (170 cm) tall, with black hair and a dark complexion. Survived by his wife, and by the son of his first marriage, he died on 2nd February 1978 at Gordon and was cremated. His widow presented his V.C. and other medals to the Imperial War Museum, London. He is commemorated in the New South Wales Garden of Remembrance, Rookwood.
LOCATION OF MEDAL: LORD ASHCROFT GALLERY, IMPERIAL WAR MUSEUM.
BURIAL PLACE: NSW GARDEN OF REMEMBRANCE, LIDCOMBE, AUSTRALIA.
Thomas Stewart – Image of Cartwright VC Medal Group at Imperial War Museum, London.
Richard Yielding – Images of the Memorial Plaque at Rookwood Crematorium, Sydney and the Cartwright VC Memorial Stone at Merrylands, Sydney.