Bruce, George James

Bruce, George James

Distinguished Service Order

Military Cross and Bar

Mentioned in Despatches (3 times)

Captain, ‘B’ Company, 13th Battalion Royal Irish Rifles             

Brigade Major, 109th Infantry Brigade, 36th Ulster Division

Killed in action on Wednesday 2 October 1918 (aged 38)

Buried:

Dadizeele New British Cemetery, Belgium (Grave III. E. 14)

Commemorated:

Commonwealth War Graves Commission

Winchester College

Comber and District War Memorial

Comber Parish Church of Ireland Church (St Mary’s)

North of Ireland Cricket Club Memorial Plaque

Comber Masonic Lodge No. 46

Banner of Comber Ulster Defenders LOL No. 100

(along with Second Lieutenant Edmund De Wind VC

and Second Lieutenant Thomas McRoberts)

BIOGRAPHY

George James Bruce was born on 3 July 1880 in Blarney Castle, Co Cork and he was a son of Samuel Bruce JP and Louisa Mary Julia Bruce (nee Colthurst) of Springfort, Mallow, Co Cork and Norton Hall, Campden, Gloucestershire.

George James Bruce attended Fonthill School, Winchester College and New College, Oxford.  In 1903 he was awarded a degree in Natural Science.

George James Bruce became Managing Director of the Comber Distilleries Company.

George James Bruce and Hilda Blakiston-Houston (daughter of John Blakiston-Houston JP DL) were married on 25 September 1907 in Knockbreda Parish Church of Ireland Church Newtownbreda.  Hilda Blakiston-Houston (aged 24) from Orangefield, Co Down was a daughter of John Blakiston-Houston DL.

George and Hilda Bruce (nee Blakiston-Houston) had four children including:

Michael Robert (born 27 September 1909 in Carnesure, Comber)

Mary Annie (born 5 March 1911 in Orangefield, Belfast)

William George (born 18 June 1916 in Cuan, Comber)

In 1911 the Bruce family lived in the townland of Multyhogy, Pottinger, Belfast with Hilda’s widowed father John, her unmarried sister Annie Marion and their nine servants – a butler, two footmen, a page, a cook, a lady’s maid, a housemaid and two kitchen maids.

In August 1914 George James Bruce volunteered for service and was ‘B’ Company Commander in the 13th Battalion Royal Irish Rifles.  He went to France in October 1915.

In January 1916 he was promoted to be General Staff Officer and was attached to the 16th (Irish) Division.

In July 1916 he was Mentioned in Despatches.

In June 1917 he was awarded the Military Cross (and a bar in November 1917 after the Battle of Cambrai).

During the Battle of Langemarck in August 1917 he was awarded a 16th (Irish) Division Gallantry Certificate.

He returned to 109th Brigade of the 36th (Ulster) Division and in March 1918 was awarded the Distinguished Service Order.

On 2 October 1918 Captain George James Bruce was killed in action at Molenhoek.  Afterwards his widow Hilda moved to Corriewood, Castlewellan, Co Down and she died on 4 November 1935.

Captain George James Bruce was 38 when he died, and he was buried in Dadizeele New British Cemetery, Belgium.  There is an inscription on his CWGC headstone:

ULSTER DIVISION

Captain George James Bruce is commemorated in Winchester College; on Comber and District War Memorial; in Comber Parish Church of Ireland Church (St Mary’s); on the North of Ireland Cricket Club Memorial Plaque; in Comber Masonic Lodge No. 46 and on the Banner of Comber Ulster Defenders LOL No. 100 (along with Second Lieutenant Edmund De Wind VC and Second Lieutenant Thomas McRoberts).

The North of Ireland Cricket Club Memorial Plaque includes those members of the Club who played Rugby Football.  The North of Ireland Football Club (members played Rugby Football as opposed to Soccer) was founded by members of the North of Ireland Cricket Club and the North of Ireland Cricket Club Memorial Plaque commemorates members of both Clubs.  Members of the Football Club were also members of the Cricket Club but not all members of the Cricket Club were members of the Football Club.