REMEMBRANCE DISPATCH No. 51 COMMEMORATES SQUADRON SERGEANT-MAJOR GEORGE TAYLOR AITKEN (HOSTEL 1895-1898) WHO WAS KILLED IN ACTION ON 10TH OCTOBER 1918.
George Taylor Aitken and his brother, Alexander, entered the Hostel in 1895 arriving from the family home in Kingstown, Dublin. George’s younger brother, Gordon, followed the two older boys into the Hostel in 1897 and for a short time all three were together at Christ College.
George had an uneventful school life. He left Christ College in 1898 and joined the Royal High School, Edinburgh after which he returned to Ireland to study Veterinary Science in 1899. He later emigrated to Canada, and soon after his arrival, he enlisted into the Royal North West Mounted Police. His career in the RNWM was a colourful one. He left after eight years’ service and remained in Canada.
He enlisted into the Alberta Dragoons in September 1914, and was sent to England for training. The Dragoons landed in France on 11th February 1915, the first Canadian Cavalry to arrive. George was awarded the Russian Medal of St George, 4th Class, for his actions at the Battle of Ypres and later awarded the Military Medal for bravery in the field. Throughout 1917 and 1918, George was involved in a variety of working parties and burial parties, shooting wounded horses on the battlefield and collecting remounts from various depots to replace the ever to replace the ever-increasing numbers of horses killed.
On 10th October 1918, while leading a troop to seize and hold high ground for Infantry, Squadron Sergeant Major George Aitken was killed by enemy machine gun fire at the Battle of Iwuy. It was a particularly bloody day with 5 men and 66 horses killed, and 17 men and 5 horses wounded.
Squadron Sergeant Major George Taylor Aitken was subsequently buried at Drummond Cemetery, Raillencourt. In 2015 his name was added to the Roll of Honour read at each year’s Remembrance Service.
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