George Edward Williamson was born in Portsmouth, Hampshire, on the 20th June 1893 and was the son of Edwin Bartliff Williamson, a Royal Navy seaman, and his wife Alice. In the 1901 census George is to be found living with his family at 43 Jersey Road, Portsmouth together with his parents and five older siblings.
George was sent to the Greenwich Hospital School, and it was from there that, on the 14th January 1909 he enlisted in the Royal Navy as a Boy 2nd class. He was re-rated Boy 1st class on the 10th April 1910 and promoted to ordinary seaman on the 20th June 1911. On the 17th March 1913 he was re-rated able seaman and then promoted to leading seaman on the 23rd July 1916. On the 1st February 1918 he was promoted to P.O. (G), having qualified on the 6th June 1916 and then on the 3rd July 1918 he was promoted to the warrant rank of acting gunner. This promotion was subsequently backdated to the 13th June 1918. Throughout the Great War up until this point he served aboard Minotaur, so he must have seen action aboard her at Jutland.
His promotion to gunner was confirmed on the 5th July 1919 and on the 13th June 1928 he was promoted to commissioned gunner and finally to Lieutenant on the 30th June 1933.
On the 2nd February 1934 he was appointed in command of H M Tug St. Fagan and, on the 6th October 1934 he was informed that, following a collision with the jetty and following on from an earlier grounding, unless he took more care in future it may be necessary to consider whether he ought to be relieved of his command. On the 10th June 1935 he was appointed in charge of HMS Victory (ship) until the 23rd August 1937 when he was appointed in charge of H M Trawler Excellent. On the 6th September 1937 he was appointed to Victory for the commissioning and subsequent command of motor minesweeper MMS 1. This was to prove fateful for him.
The Motor Minesweeper No. 1 was built by Messrs. Thorneycroft and was being delivered to the Admiralty at Portsmouth. It was built at Hampton Court and motored to Greenwich on November 28th where it was joined by Williamson, before setting off for Portsmouth. The following day it reached Dover where Williamson sent a message to his wife asking her to meet him at Portsmouth the following day. The passage through the English Channel was made in the face of a south-westerly gale with a three to four feet swell. It was a rough trip for a small boat which was being driven fast, but there were few reports of seasickness.
When MMS1 docked in Portsmouth Lt. Williamson was found in his cabin apparently asphyxiated and a subsequent post mortem confirmed that he had died of carbon monoxide poisoning. At the inquest no witness could offer an explanation for the death, either in the nature of boat construction or in the underlying state of Williamson's health. The jury returned a verdict of death by misadventure.
Lt. George Williamson was accorded a naval funeral and the gun carriage, which was drawn by men of HMS Victory was preceded by the Band of the Royal Marines. Volleys were fired over the grave in Milton Cemetery by a firing party and the Last Post was sounded.
Williamson was buried on 3rd December 1937 in Plot T, Row 11, Grave 31. His wife Marjorie Lucy Stevens Williamson was buried in the same grave on 26th January 1939, but the plot was never purchased and was subsequently re-used. There is no grave marker to commemorate the passing of Lt. Williamson.
Article based on information provided by Kenneth Weston