b. 02/03/1883 Bilston, Staffordshire. d. 02/04/1944 Birmingham.
George Onions (1883-1944) was born in 2nd March 1883 at Wellington Street, Bilston, Staffordshire. His parents were Zachariah Webb and Amy Susan Onions (nee Skemp). Unfortunately, George’s mother died a year after he was born, and his father remarried Jane M. Farquhar in 1887 in Northumberland. By the 1901 census the family had moved to Abersychan in Monmouthshire where the now 18-year-old George was employed as an assistant to an analytical chemist. In 1904, George emigrated to Australia, where he met and married his wife Florence Macfarlane Donaldson in 1907 in Brisbane. They had a son, George Zachariah, born in 1909. The family later moved back to England, settling in Sale in Cheshire by 1915.
In 1915 he enlisted with the 3rd Hussars Reserve, and he served in the Easter Rising in Dublin in 1916. He later moved to the 3rd Kings Own Hussars Cavalry Regiment, and then to the 1st Battalion of the Devonshire Regiment, serving in Belgium and France. In 1916, he went absent without leave and was involved in a disturbance in a restaurant in London, He was court martialled and cashiered on 22nd December.
On 22nd August 1918 south of Achiet-le-Petit, France, Lance-Corporal Onions, having been sent out with one man to get in touch with the battalion on the right flank, saw the enemy advancing in large numbers. Seizing his opportunity, he boldly placed himself and his comrade on the flank of the advancing enemy and opened fire. When the enemy were about 100 yards from him the line wavered and some hands were thrown up, whereupon the lance-corporal rushed forward and helped by his comrade, took about 200 of the enemy prisoners and marched them back to his company commander.
His brave actions on 22nd August 1918 in Achiet-le-Petit in Northern France earned him the Victoria Cross nomination. His citation was published in the London Gazette on 14th December 1918. On the same day, Onions was badly gassed and transported back to England for treatment and convalescence in Liverpool. After the War, he was promoted to the rank of Major. He received his VC from King George V at Buckingham Palace on 13th February 1919. He was then given £100 in contributions.
He then saw service in the Auxiliary Division of the Royal Irish Constabulary. In 1936 he moved to Birmingham, and on the outbreak of World War II, he was commissioned in the Royal Warwickshire Regiment as part of the National Defence Companies. In April 1941, he resigned his commission. George Onions died on 2nd April 1944 in Birmingham, with his last address as 4 Hagley Court, Hagley Road, Edgbaston. He was buried in Quinton Cemetery, Birmingham. His grave fell into disrepair and was refurbished in 2014 by local stonemason Mark Brady. His medals including his VC, 1914-15 Star, British War Medal 1914-20, Victory Medal 1914-19 and King George VI Coronation Medal 1937 are held by The Keep Military Museum, Dorchester, Dorset.
LOCATION OF MEDAL: THE KEEP MILITARY MUSEUM, DORCHESTER.
BURIAL PLACE: QUINTON CEMETERY, BIRMINGHAM.
SECTION 6, GRAVE 7364
Kevin Brazier – Cemetery Map.
Steve Davies – Image of the Onions VC Medal Group at The Keep Museum, Dorchester.
Mark Sanders – Image of the Onions VC Medal Card.