George William Symes (1896-1980)

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Vital StatisticsEdit


George Symes was the oldest son of George Symes (?-?) and Eliza Paulley (?-?).


  1. Katherine Bellairs Lucas (?-1961) married at St John's Anglican Church, Colaba, Bombay, on 11 December 1939
  2. Living Cudmore (1908-living) married at St Peter's Church of England, Box Hill, Melbourne, on 30 March 1967




Early Life and EducationEdit

Symes went to school at Bridport Secondary School.

Military ServiceEdit

He enlisted in the British Army after leaving school. He was commissioned in the Durham Light Infantry on 14 June 1915. While serving in the Machine Gun Corps in World War I, he won the Military Cross (1916) for capturing twenty Germans single-handed in a communications trench. In 1918 he was awarded a Bar to his M.C.

After the war, Symes performed staff duties in Britain and India, and rose to major (1938).

The outbreak of World War II led to his rapid promotion: by November 1940 he was in England as an acting brigadier. On 11 February 1942 he was promoted acting major general (substantive July 1944) and given command of the 70th Division, which was sent from the Middle East to India. In 1943 the division was broken up in order to provide manpower for Major General Orde Wingate's Special Force, known as the Chindits, which operated behind Japanese lines in Burma. Symes was appointed Wingate's second-in-command. When Wingate was killed in an air crash in March 1944, Symes was not promoted.

He remained in Burma until December 1945 and was twice mentioned in dispatches. In 1946 he was appointed Companion of the Order of the Bath (CB) and colonel of the York and Lancaster Regiment. Following two commands in England and a career that was distinguished rather than brilliant, he retired from the army in April 1949


After he retired from the army in April 1949, Symes settled in Adelaide, South Australia. He served as private secretary from 1956 to 1964 to successive Governors of South Australia.


Golden Wattle


  1. Entry in the Australian Dictionary of Biography
  2. Major General George William Symes, CB, MC - biography at Militaria Museum (


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