George was an Englishman, who came to Australia about 1913. His parents William and Elizabeth lived at Camberwell, London. George enlisted at Elsmore in December 1915 whilst he was working for Nicholas Brothers on their grazing property. He became a member of the 33rd Battalion, C Company which, after training at Armidale and Rutherford, sailed from Australia in May 1916 on HMAT A74 Marathon.
After nine weeks at sea the Battalion arrived in England where further training was carried out at Salisbury Plain until going to France in November 1916. George was wounded at the Battle of Messines in June 1917 and gassed in April 1918. In October 1918 he was admitted to hospital in Dorchester, England with a gunshot wound to his head and arm.
George was awarded the Victoria Cross ‘for most conspicuous bravery and devotion to duty on the morning of the 31st August 1918, during the attack on Road Wood, southwest of Bouchavesnes, near Peronne.’ (Commonwealth Gazette No 61, 23 May 1919).
After returning to Australia in 1919, a Welcome Home was organised for George at the Elsmore School of Arts Hall where he was given an inscribed gold cigarette case and a gold medal by residents. Local grazier Mr. Bucknell, who had promised a gift of 250 pounds ($500) to the first local VC winner, made his presentation at a reception at Inverell Town Hall.
George married in 1921 and lived in Sydney. He enlisted again during World War II. He died in Sydney in 1978 and is commemorated at the Garden of Remembrance, Rookwood, Sydney. Private Cartwright's name is inscribed on the Inverell Honor Roll.
Image courtesy AWM No J03063A