My dad’s time with the Royal Irish Fusiliers

George Boone
George Boone

Having run away from home in Cahore, Draperstown, Co Londonderry, Dad (George Boone) enlisted in the Royal Irish Fusiliers at St Lucia Barracks in Omagh on 25/08/1936. This was three years before the start of WW2, during which he served with his Regiment in Palestine and for a short time in Malta.

Dad never talked about his 10 year military career nor his war time experiences, so I know very little other than what I squeezed out of him or from what I was told by my Uncle Norman (Greenfield) and indeed my Dad’s younger brother, William Boone (Former Royal Inniskillen Fusiliers Sergeant – post war).

That having been said and having done a little research over the years I note that in order to get the King’s shilling when knocking on those imposing Barrack gates, he wasn’t altogether truthful about his age, giving an incorrect DOB to suggest he was a year older than he in fact was, although in those days I don’t imagine the recruiting Sergeant was too particular.

Dad was in Malta with his Battalion (2 RIF) on two occasions and from a little inscription on this photo it is clear it was taken there.

It is true that after the Battle of Leros Dad and the few remaining comrades who survived this battle were taken prisoner and after a long cruel journey he ended up in Stalag IVB, where he spent a further, even more cruel 18 months before being liberated by the Russians.

Whilst separated and not knowing if the other was living or dead, Dad and Norman Greenfield, who was subsequently to become my Uncle, were reunited.

Unbelievably they survived this and returned to Gilford in 1946.

Dad would then be remembered as the driver of the Mill lorry and the Mill bus, which transported the workers to and from the outlying districts.

It is unbelievable that after demob and after all the horrors of war and what they had experienced, these men were expected to marry and settle back into domestic life. There was no talk then of Post Traumatic Stress and I’m sure even less support, but they did it because they were from a harder generation than that of today.

May we never forget these men and the sacrifices they made.