George Burns joined the 7th Queen’s Own Hussars in May 1933 at Aldershot and served with them in Hounslow and Egypt, where they went in 1935 and were mechanised two years later. George was time expired in 1938.

Recalled in August 1939, he went to Palestine in 1940, served in Sudan and eventually got back to the 7th, who was serving in the Desert Campaign in the 7th Armoured Brigade.

In February 1942 they sailed to Burma, where George went missing for some months. He was found by Gen Chiang Kai Shek’s Communist army, who treated him badly. He escaped, was wounded, and somehow rejoined the Regiment for the retreat out of Burma.

From Burma, the Regiment withdrew to India in May and then went on to Iraq in September 1942. George returned to the 7th in the Canal Zone in Egypt in 1942.

After treatment for the wounds received during his period with the Chinese Communists, and a period of convalescence, George had a spell with 52 Commando they landed in Italy in April 1944 where we find him, now a tank commander, involved in almost every battle. Knocked out more than once, the last time he was badly wounded, but the ‘Cockney sparrow’ survived, staying in Bari hospital for some time. Col Congreve found him there and soon had him back in the Regiment, where he commanded a tank into Venice – the last battle.

Once in Austria, George became a D and M plus driving instructor. In this role, he remained for a number of years teaching many soldiers to drive, until he returned to the Far East with the 7th in 1954. Hong Kong, of course, was very different from Burma, not least because he had his wife, Molly, and his family with him.

Finally, George came to the last lap of a distinguished Army career when the Regiment came home to Tidworth, and he was discharged in 1958.

His knowledge of vehicles and engines stood him in good stead, for he became chief mechanic to Tony Brookes, the racing driver, but his war injuries sadly put an end to a job he loved, and he moved to Somerset and then eventually to a British Legion retirement flat near Portsmouth. Coincidentally, these flats were named after Gen Pat H-D, George’s troop leader and squadron leader in the 7th Hussars.

It was here that the cheerful ‘Cockney sparrow’ died – a distinguished and courageous soldier of the 7th Queen’s Own Hussars, always ready to help others, and loved by all. Those who served with him are proud to have known him.

Related topics

  1. A short history of The 7th Hussars
  2. Timeline: Middle East (Egypt and Libya)
  3. Timeline: Burma 1942
  4. Timeline: Italy 1943-5