He became one of the displaced.
Even before the May final crossing of the Lusitania, George had been trying to leave Orr-Lewis and join up. He had been accosted about why he, a young and fit man, was not in uniform. Orr-Lewis, like many of his class felt that he would be lost without George. He had never dressed himself in his life. He had never had to think about how his day would run. He pressed George to stay for one more trip. George agreed.
George was at the top of the mountain as far as service went. He had high status as a valet to an important and wealthy man. He also lived very well.
George had started work here.
This is Osberton Hall, the home of the Folijambe's. It is one of the great houses of Nottinghamshire My Great Great Granny's Grandson on the other side married the heiress. It is likely that Aunt Marguerite got to know young George here and it is likely that she recommended him to Frederick Orr-Lewis.
Here is the Orr-Lewis house. This is called Whitewebbs.
George lived very well here and he also would travel to Cannes where the Orr-Lewis's had another house and where Frederick is buried. Villa Valetta was one of the great houses near Cannes and had one of the finest gardens in France.
So George would give up a lot to join up. He would once more just be a private soldier at the bottom of the pile. If Orr-Lewis had served, it would have been different. Then George could have signed up as his servant.
The turning point was that George's brother, Arthur was determined to sign up himself. Arthur had followed George into service and had also worked at first at Osberton. He was a gardener. His last job was in the gardens at Park Hall, Mansfield Woodhouse. He had previously been employed at Osberton and at Rufford Abbey.
Arthur was accepted but George was not. George had broken his instep in the sinking and had a heart murmur. Arthur died a year later of pneumonia.
George is now lost. Orr-Lewis himself died in 1921. His son Duncan sold Whitewebbs after the early death of his wife and moved to Cannes. There was no loyalty between Duncan and his father's man. Lady Orr-Lewis had no say over her son's choices. Aunt Marguerite, who had always been very attached to George was herself homeless until 1921. Ravenscrag limped along after she moved back.
The day of the valet was over. By the wars's end, many of the great houses were retrenching or closing.
George, now with no "skills" joined the millions of demobbed men looking for work.
But being the man he was he found a way.
This is his house where he raised a family. (Thanks to Eric Sauder for the image)
He lived until he was 78. His role in the Lusitania made him a hero to his family and to his community. His daughter Nina wrote two books about him. George the Early Days about his start in Nottinghamshire. And George - Memoirs of a Gentleman's Gentleman about his time with Orr-Lewis.
These books are maybe not history as they are influenced by Nina's desire to put George in an even better light - but they offer us all a window into the time of Downton Abbey. They also demonstrate a daughter's love and pride in her father.
Thanks again to Eric Sauder, here is George's grave.
And here also are my family's blessing and thanks to George who too will always be a hero for us.