The South African
Military History Society

Die Suid-Afrikaanse Krygshistoriese Vereniging

Military History Journal
Vol 13 No 2 - December 2004

OBITUARY: George Barrell 1924-2004

It is with sadness that we record the passing of our Editorial Adviser, George Barrell. George was the driving force and prime mover of the new-look Journal, and it was his determination to produce a publication worthy of the Museum and the Society that enabled this journal to move into the 21 st century in terms of technology and design.

George Barrell

George was a superb editor. His reading of articles sent to the journal, and his skilful reworking of text with due regard to factual accuracy has hugely improved the readability of this journal. His historical knowledge was encyclopaedic - wide ranging and always accurate on dates. His memory was phenomenal, and his special love for military history deep and abiding.

Born in Manchester, England, in 1924, George was a man of words. Books and writing were what made up his life. He was educated at one of England's most famous schools, Manchester Grammar School, although his schooling was somewhat interrupted by the events of the Second World War and, as a schoolboy, he helped with fire watching and rescue work after air raids. On leaving school, he joined the Royal Air Force, hoping to fly, but an injured eye made this impossible. Instead, he took a transfer to the Royal Navy, where he spent a couple of years on convoy duty in cold northern latitudes.

On his discharge from the Navy, George studied at Manchester University, where he gained a degree in Economics. He went into journalism, first in Bolton, and then in Fleet Street in London, where he worked on the Daily Express. In 1953, George went to India, where he first worked on, and then became editor of, Capital, at that time India's most important financial newspaper. In the 1960s and 70s, George worked as a freelance journalist, writing for various publications in Britain and the USA, as well as broadcasting for the BBC. He came to South Africa in 1975, where he worked on a variety of financial publications until his retirement.

George joined the South African Military History Society, for whom he worked tirelessly as a member, committee member and chairman, but above all, as their scribe. For many years, George wrote the superb newsletters that were the hallmark and pride of the Society. In recognition of his long service, he was awarded an Honorary Life Membership of the South African Military History Society, to mark his 80th birthday, in August 2004. George's many services, both to the SA National Museum of Military History and to the Journal, as well as to the Military History Society will be much missed. His wit and wisdom are irreplaceable.

Colin and Marjorie Dean
Military History Society Johannesburg Branch

Return to Journal Index OR Society's Home page

South African Military History Society /