Telephone +44 (0)1305 264066

Sergeant George Barfoot DCM , The Dorsetshire Regiment

George Barfoot was born in 1881, the sixth of seven children born to Joseph Barfoot, an inspector of roads, and his Belgian wife Philomena.  The family lived at 125a Lupus Street, Pimlico. 

Before his fifteenth birthday he enlisted in the Dorset Regiment and was posted to the 2nd Battalion, then serving in Ireland.  In October 1896 four companies of the 2nd Battalion were sent to Gibraltar.  Four months later the rest of the Battalion followed, collected the companies at Gibraltar and sailed for Malta, where the Battalion spent two years. 

In February 1899 the 2nd Dorsets returned to England, where George met and married Nanci Smedley, a barmaid at the Britannia Hotel, Fortuneswell.  They lived at 15 King Street, Portland, and in 1904 they had a son, Edward.  In 1907 Nanci and Edward went with George to India.  By this time George was a sergeant and, after eighteen years’ service, he was awarded the Long Service and Good Conduct Medal.  In Poona the Dorsets formed part of the 6th Indian Division commanded by Maj-Gen Charles Townshend. 

In mid-October 1914 the Division includng the 2nd Battalion The Dorsetshire Regiment sailed for Mesopotamia.  Their first action was the capture of a fort the mouth of the River Tigris on 6th November.  They then advanced up the Tigris facing a much larger Turkish force.  In the first two weeks a quarter of the Dorsets became casualties.  At the Battle of Shaiba in April 1915 they again suffered heavy casualties and won seven DCMs.  In May 170 of their strength were in hospital with fever or sunstroke.  In September after another costly victory the 2nd Dorsets occupied Kut el Amara.  Advancing north, the Division fought an inconclusive battle and had to withdraw, considerably weakened.  Falling back on Kut, they were besieged by the Turkish Army.

In Kut for five months the British defenders suffered starvation and appalling hardships.  In late April 1916, after unsuccessful attempts to relieve his force, Townshend surrendered.  Marched to Anatolia, the surviving British troops were beaten, murdered and starved by their captors.  Of 350 Dorsets who surrendered , only 140 survived the march.  Only half of these survived the war.

George Barfoot was among the 70 survivors.  He had been mentioned in Despatches during the siege and, after the war, was awarded both the DCM and the French Medaille Militaire.  In February 1919 he was one of 51 Dorset Regiment survivors to attend a dinner in Dorchester Town Hall.  He left the Army in June 1922 after 26½ years’ and was awarded a pension of 57 pence a day. 

Nanci Barfoot died in the summer of 1946 and George followed early in 1947, aged 65.