It was under a cloudy sky that a small crowd gathered today in Oxton to witness the unveiling of a Blue Plaque in honour of WWI soldier, Captain George Edward Schultz.
Unfortunately, right on cue, as the speeches were about to begin, the heavens opened. But, the spirits of those gathered were not dampened and a temporary marquee gave the speakers a little shelter from the downpour.
Amongst the crowd, including the current owners of the house, Dominic and Sarah Richmond and their family, were many local people, including Cllr Alan Brame, Bob Knowles of The Oxton Society History group, Jeff Willis of the Oxton Society, Major Paul Hands and Captain Rob Barr MBE from 234 (Wirral) Squadron RLC, Chetwynd Barracks, and the grandson of Captain Schultz, Mr. John Shultz.
Captain George Edward Shultz lived at 3 Silverdale Road in Oxton at the outbreak of the Great War.
Maj. Paul Hands, before unveiling the plaque, said, “I do believe we’ve all got different reasons for remembering those that paid the ultimate sacrifice. But, regardless of what those reasons are, the main thing is that they won’t be forgotten. At the going down of the sun and in the morning, we will remember them.” Maj. Hands then unveiled the plaque on the gatepost of the house.
Mr. John Schultz told birkenhead.news, “I am the grandson of George Schultz, who is commemorated on the Blue Plaque here today, although of course, all the other Birkenhead Bantams who died in the First World War are also commemorated because it’s not just about my grandfather.”
“As a family, we’re very proud of him, although I never knew him and even my father never knew him. But, he wasn’t a special hero any more than all the others and I think he’d be the first to want to say that. Nevertheless, he is a hero to us.
“He was very keen at volunteering, in the equivalent of what today is the Territorials, in Birkenhead before the First World War. He returned from Canada, where he had emigrated, on the outbreak of the First World War to serve in the Birkenhead Bantams. This battalion was set up specially to cater for men who were less than 5’3” tall and therefore precluded from enlisting in the regular army.
“We’re very proud of him. I’ve built up a picture of him – a three-dimensional picture of a real person – who had a lot of fun as a young man and he obviously remained cheerful in the trenches, because that much is said in the battalion diary.
“He was seen as very reliable, dutiful, and cheery. He was, I think, a model soldier, rather than some outstanding hero, and we’re dead proud of him!”
Captain George Edward Schultz 1887 – 1917
George Edward Schultz was born in Oxton in 1887. A keen Birkenhead volunteer before emigrating to Canada, he hurried back on the outbreak of the First World War to re-enlist and was among the very first officers to join the newly-formed Birkenhead Bantams, with whom his story is closely bound up.
He proudly served with them, until he was killed in France after a year-and-a-half in the trenches on the Western Front.
In many ways, George was a typical army officer of the time; no medal for gallantry, no mention in despatches – but even so, held in high regard for being dutiful, brave, reliable and cheerful in adversity. He was very proud of the short men in his company.
Married for only two years, he left a widow and a son aged only one. Like so many fellow soldiers, he was never able to experience life as a husband and father in peacetime. But he is not forgotten.
The Oxton Society has produced an excellent booklet about Captain Schultz and is available by contacting the society.