The Man Behind the Medals
In this blog series, SOFO Museum's Research volunteers look at the stories behind some of the medal sets in the museum's collection, from those that can be seen on a visit in our dedicated Medals display to some of those that are still tucked away in the archive.
While medals will tell you a little bit about a soldier's service, it's only with further research that their full story can be revealed! SOFO's Research volunteers respond to enquiries we receive through our Research Service, helping people find out more about their relatives who served in the county regiments, and raising funds to support the museum in the process. Using a combination of the museum's records and those available elsewhere, they piece together stories like this one.
Sergeant 5378415 George Turk
George Turk was born on the 20th October 1906 in Bristol, the son of Frank & Alice Turk, being baptised at St Simon’s on the 4th December, with Frank’s trade being given as a mason’s labourer. The 1911 Census had the large family still living in Bristol, with George having 3 brothers and 3 sisters.
George lost two elder brothers in WW1. Francis was Killed in Action with the Kings Royal Rifle Corps in France in 1914, and Edward with the Royal Berks on the Western Front in 1918. Nevertheless, George Turk joined the Army in 1925, being attested into the Ox & Bucks LI on the 6th August that year. He served initially in the 1st Bn – the old 43rd – before being transferred to the 2nd Bn (the 52nd) for service in India.
When Pte Turk joined A Company of the 2nd Bn they were serving in Rawalpindi, but that was followed by service on the NW Frontier and then in Burma during the Galon Rebellion. Later the battalion moved back to India at Bareilly. His service entitled him to the award of the India GS Medal, with a clasp for Burma 1930-32.
George seemed to take to peacetime Army life, being promoted to Corporal in 1933 and enjoying great success at boxing. Cpl Turk won the
Regimental Trophy Belt at Welterweight for five successive years, successfully represented the Regiment up to Army Level and eventually had to move up a weight to find suitable opponents!
He married Eileen Walters in Rangoon in 1934 before completing his time and returning to Britain. However, WW2 saw him returning to the Colours with the 2nd OBLI as a Sgt, although he transferred to the Suffolk Regiment in April 1942. The Suffolks went ashore on D-Day and fought through France & Germany until the end of the war, while another battalion saw service in North Africa and Italy.
After the war, Sgt Turk married once more, to Emily Chedzey in 1947 in Bristol and remained in the Army serving with the Royal Army Ordnance Corps between 1949/1951. He died in Chippenham, Wilts in 1978.
Indian GSM & Clasp, 1939-45 Star, Africa Star, Defence Medal, LSGCM, MSM