George David Rodriques GC (EGM exchanger)

b. 01/03/1892 Podanur, India d. 21/08/1962 Bangalore, India.

DATE AND PLACE OF GC ACTION: 24/09/1921 Malapuran, India.

George David Rodrigues (1892-1962) was born in Podanur, India on 1st March 1892, the son of Hilary Joseph Rodrigues and his Irish wife Amelia Beatrice O’Connor. He was an only child and spent his early life in Podanur. After schooling, he went to Madras Medical School as a military student from where he qualified as a doctor and then joined the Indian Medical Department. He was posted to different parts of India as well as a spell in Mesopotamia, before arriving in the Malabar area just prior to the disturbances.

George Cross

On 24th September 1921, in Malapuran, India, riots had broken out and mobs of between 5,000 and 10,000 were attacking the Hindu population, especially the higher caste Nambudris and Nayars, and were looting grain from them. Some of Hindus were also being murdered by the mob. The British intervened in order to try and maintain the peace, and four British soldiers were killed and several wounded. In addition, several members of the Police Force were killed, as well as a local planter. All that is known about the role of George Rodrigues is that he had saved the lives of several of his senior officers who were at threat from the mob.

On the 1st June 1923, George as well as Private Frederick Chant, Sergeant William George Hand and Private Thomas Miller (all Dorsetshire Regiment), were awarded the Empire Gallantry Medal for their actions in Malabar. George married Winifred Phyllis Bartleman later that year, and they had two children, Carlton and Nigel. While George was working in the British Station Hospital at Calicut, he realised that he could make a better living as a civilian doctor, and in February 1925, he resigned to start his own practice.

George’s practice would treat the poor for no fee, and often would take goods such as coconuts and bananas as payments for services. He was one of only a few doctors in the area and was given the name “Ooserkuthri” which meant “doctor who gives injections”. He specialised in Dermatology, and patients came from miles around to be treated by him. Both of George’s sons Carlton and Nigel followed him into the medical profession and both qualified from his old school in Madras. Carlton eventually worked alongside George at his practice. He took over the practice after George’s retirement. Whilst in Calicut, George also acquired 150 acres of Government land and the estate grew orange trees, coffee, pepper, cocoa and cardamoms.

In September 1940, George’s EGM was exchanged for the new George Cross. After his retirement from the practice due to ill health, he moved to Bangalore, where he lived the rest of his life. George died on 21st August 1962 in Bangalore, and was buried in Hosur Road Cemetery. His medals including his GC, India General Service Medal 1908-1935 with clasp “Malabar 1921-1922” and the 1953 Queen Elizabeth II Coronation Medal are held by the Rodrigues family.