Hundreds of you knew him as a South Shields teacher - take a look at what he did as a soldier in the Second World War

The Second World War memories of a South Shields soldier have been revealed for the first time – and he’s the same man who later taught hundreds of South Tyneside schoolchildren.

Wednesday, 11th November 2020, 7:00 am
Updated Thursday, 12th November 2020, 9:27 am

George West will be known to former pupils of Baring Street, Whiteleas, and Mortimer Road primary schools.

He devoted his whole career to teaching young people to read and write, and encouraging them to enjoy art, music and the natural world.

But unbeknown to them all, he had a remarkable Second World War story to tell as well and now it has been put into print.

George West whose wartime memories have been published in two books.

It tells how he was one of only 14 soldiers who returned unscathed from a company of 240 Royal Engineers who were originally based in Jarrow.

George died in 2001 aged 81 but he penned his memories in the 1990s and his daughter Effie Cadwallader has transcribed it into two books which are now on sale.

She said that it was not until fifty years after his wartime experiences that George ‘started recording what had weighed so heavily upon his mind all those years.

‘From simply jotting down a note or two one wet Sunday afternoon there came a flood of memories, all beautifully hand written in old school exercise books.’

George West will be known to former pupils of Baring Street, Whiteleas, and Mortimer Road primary schools, but he had a remarkable Second World War story to tell

The books are titled “By Patience, Perseverance, and a Bottle of Sweet Oil” and “The Snail, At Length, Reached Jerusalem,” and tell the tale of George’s war.

Effie said: “It is not about military strategies, nor does he dwell upon fighting and the horrors of war, though these are mentioned, making the books suitable for younger readers as well as adults.

"The two volumes describe the characters, adventures, and episodes he experienced from the moment he joined up, through the Phoney War and Dunkirk in

volume one.”

A close-up on George in his uniform.

The second volume deals with El Alamein, the Sicily Landings, D Day, in support of “A Bridge Too Far,” Belsen, and final demob in volume two.

Amongst many other tales, in volume one George describes in detail how, as an innocent teenager working as a clerk at Harton Coal Company, he was pitifully unprepared to go to war.

The second book talks of George’s life being saved on D Day.

Effie Cadwallader with the books on George West.

Effie said her father was on board an American landing craft ready to “storm” the beaches. “He reckoned he survived because of an altercation between his LCT captain, who had been hitting the bottle, and a British Royal Navy destroyer.”

Effie added: “Though George himself will never see the finished product, he would be pleased that his account of the experiences of an ordinary soldier is now recorded for all time. A copy is held in the Imperial War Museum.”

When he left teaching, George and his wife Kathleen moved to Shropshire where they enjoyed a long, happy and peaceful retirement.

“By Patience, Perseverance, And A Bottle Of Sweet Wine” is available from Amazon or YouCaxton Publications at £8.99.

“The Snail, At Length, Reached Jerusalem” is also available from Amazon and YouCaxton Publications at £10.99.

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George West in Alexandria in 1942.

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The two new books.
George with his daughter Effie.
George in later life.
George pictured in Cairo in 1943.