166510, Lieutenant, 11th Bomb Disposal Company. Royal Engineers.
Killed on the 7th August 1946 aged 30.
Lieutenant George Henry Gayler GM
George was born in Stevenage and educated at the Letchmore Road School. After leaving school he was employed at ESA in Stevenage for four years in the firms paint-dipping workshop. When he reached 18 years of age he decided to join the Army and entered his fathers old corps, the Royal Engineers. George served in Malta for four years and left the Army just before the outbreak of war. As a reserve he was re-called to the service when the war began and again served with the Royal Engineers.
He was employed on bomb disposal work and was eventually commissioned as a Lieutenant. It appears that he also helped to train saboteurs and covert operatives at the Commando training school at Tatlers Farm near Stevenage. George then married a girl named Ruth and they had two children, Anthony & Janet. He was awarded the George Medal for Bomb Disposal underwater in the wreckage of the Railway Bridge across the Albert Canal at Hasselt, Belgium between the 6th-8th November 1944. He acted as the company diver and the official citation reads as follows;
London Gazette 29.4.1945 Lieutenant George Henry Gaylor, Corps of Royal Engineers (166510)
'For conspicuous gallantry in carrying out hazardous work in a very brave manner.'
'On the 6th November, 1944, at Hasselt, reconstruction of the demolished railway bridge was stopped owing to the presence of an unexploded bomb under 30 ft. of water in the Albert Canal. Lieutenant Gaylor went down and located the bomb half buried in the mud underneath torn railway lines, steel girders and wreckage. To do so he had to squeeze himself between damaged girders at the risk of tearing his diving suit or fouling the air or lifeline and so being trapped. In spite of Nil visibility he identified the tail fuze by touch, found it was in a dangerous condition, and since technical equipment could not be used water, he unscrewed the fuze by hand. Due to mud and the damaged condition of the nose, Lieutenant Gaylor was unable to ascertain whether the bomb had a nose fuze, but, acting on the assumption that it had, he again went down and guided the bomb through the wreckage, inch by inch, as it was hauled out, knowing that any movement of the bomb might set if off. Lieutenant Gaylor's brave conduct enabled work to be resumed on the vital railway and canal communications.'
Corporal John Christie Fordyce.
After the war had ended George remained in the Army and was employed on the dangerous work of clearing British mines and bombs from the coastline. On the 7th August 1946 he was off duty when some mines were detected at Rattery Head, a beach north of Aberdeen. He volunteered to go out to the site with two young recruits, Corporal John Christie Fordyce, a 24 year-old Scotsman who had only been married for 13 days, and Sapper Albert Hurley, a 19 year-old Cornishman, who had only been with the company for three weeks. During the process of defusing the mines one of them exploded and killed all three members of the team.
His body was transferred to London and he lays buried in the Abney Park cemetery, Stoke Newington, London.