Merton to honour First World War hero

Merton Council is to hold a special service at Wimbledon War Memorial, on Parkside, to commemorate the bravery of local resident, Second Lieutenant George Edward Cates and to mark the 100th anniversary of the action for which he was awarded the Victoria Cross.

Second Lieutenant George Edward Cates VC

Second Lieutenant George Edward Cates VC

The ceremony is to take place on 8 March from 2pm and will be led by the Mayor’s Chaplain Reverend Gerry Stanton. Mayor of Merton, Councillor Brenda Fraser and Deputy Lieutenant Clare Whelan OBE, will unveil a memorial stone in George Cates’ honour.

The memorial service will include contributions from Deputy Lieutenant Clare Whelan OBE; Leader of the Council, Councillor Stephen Alambritis; officers from The Rifles; Peter Hutton, Group Leader 13th Wimbledon Scout Group, and representatives from Rutlish School, where George was a pupil.

image-vcandbar-1Residents are welcome to attend the service where they will hear Cates’ life story, First World War poetry, hymns and prayers of remembrance.  Reverend Stanton will bless the commemorative stone and a wreath will also be laid at the memorial.

Mayor of Merton, Councillor Brenda Fraser said: “It is right and fitting for us to commemorate the bravery of one of our residents who fought and died 100 years ago. Millions of men and women like George Cates laid down their lives for their country during World War One.”

Merton’s Deputy Lieutenant, Clare Whelan OBE said: “This will be a very fitting memorial to a Merton man who gave his life for his country, as so many from that turbulent time in history did. This is a service for the local community to remember a local man who made the ultimate sacrifice.”

Merton council Cabinet Member for Community and Culture, Councillor Nick Draper said: “George Cates’ actions, and those of the many men and women like him, have shaped our present day. They are our history and we owe it to them to keep their legacy alive. Merton is proud to have had such a courageous resident whose bravery we will be commemorating in March.”

George Cates was born at 86 Hartfield Road, Wimbledon in May 1892 and died in France on 9 March 1917.


The grave of George Edward Cates V C, Hem Farm Military Cemetery, Hem-Monacu, Somme, France. Picture kindly supplied by David Blyth

For most conspicuous gallantry and self sacrifice. When engaged with some other men in deepening a captured trench, their officer struck with his spade a buried bomb, which immediately stared to burn; 2nd Lieut Cates, in order to save the lives of his comrades, placed his foot on the bomb which immediately exploded. He showed most conspicuous gallantry and devotion to duty in performing the act which cost his life but saved the lives of others. This heroic young officer died of his wounds the same night, 9th March 1917.

London Gazette, 11 May 1917

More information on George Edward Cates VC can be found on Merton Council’s Carved in Stone website.

This is part of the government’s campaign to honour Victoria Cross recipients from the First World War.