At the start of the war the 2nd Battalion of the Cheshire Regiment was mobilised and sent to France where it joined the I Corps and was attached to the 1st Division with the British Expeditionary Force, followed later by the 4th and 7th Battalions. After a period on the Maginot Line, they all took part in the gruelling withdrawal from the River. Dyle to the coast and were brought off from the Dunkirk beaches by the Royal Navy. However, George Bush had been withdrawn whilst serving on the Maginot line, to Bordon in Hants, to complete his machine gun instructor cadre, a few weeks prior to Dunkirk.
February 1941 saw the 2nd Battalion, The Cheshires, leave I Corps and 1st Division and join the 50th (Northumbrian) Infantry Division. It remained attached to this Division for the rest of the War. (The Northumbrians wore the double 'T' insignia, representing the Tyne and the Tees rivers, in North East England, where most of the 50th troops were drawn from. However, the Cheshire's were largely drawn from Cheshire and the Wirral Peninslal, in the North West of England. The Cheshire's also had a few men from Liverpool, the 'Scousers', one of whom was George).
After Dunkirk the 2nd Battalion was part of the Garrison of the Gazala Line in North Africa 1942, which was successfully defended till the German armour attacked it from the rear. It was at Gazala that George was placed in the 'glass house', a military jail, due to having hit an officer. However, George said that he felt he didn't have an option, due to the behaviour of the officer. George, (a regimental boxer), and a couple of comrades had taken cover in a hole. George said this was due to shrapnel flying everywhere, as a result of German shelling. An Officer, jumped into the hole, and ordered the three soldiers to move forward. George said they all said "no", due to the shell fire. (George said he thought the officer was "a bit bomb happy!"). The officer then pulled his pistol on the three soldiers, and began shouting at them to leave the trench and move forward, calling them "cowards". George said it was at this point that he dealt the officer a full blow to the chin. Following this action, the officer reported George; and George was placed in the glass house. Fortunately, the rapid withdrawl from Tobruk, led to the charge papers being lost in the panic, and George's being released, and returning to his unit, (However, George thought that a wily Sargeant-Major had probably lost the charge papers, accidentally on purpose!!!!!).
George's machine gun crew, on R&R in Cairo 1942. Following this photo, the crew were attached to 2nd battalion The Rifle Brigade and 239 Battery RA, at Kidney Ridge, El Alamein. George was mentioned in dispatches, and Lieutenant Turner won the VC in the same action.
The withdrawl from Tobruk, led to most of the troops fighting their way back to the Alamein Line, and protecting Egypt. It was at the battle of Kidney Ridge, El Alamein, that George received a shrapnel wound, to his right buttock!!!!!!!!!! ouch!!!!!!
After Alamein, where the 6th Battalion, The Cheshires, was also engaged, the 2nd Battalion took part in the attacks of the successive positions held by the Germans in their withdrawal along the coast. As the war progressed from North Africa towards the European mainland the 2nd Battalion and 7th Battalion took part in the assault landings in Sicily in 1943. The British forces played the key role on the Eastern flank and had hard fighting in difficult and minestrewn country. Indeed, D-Day Normandy, was not George's first D-Day, as he had landed on D-Day in Sicily, where he said the battle conditions were "much worse than Normandy!"
After Sicily, the 2nd Battalion, still in the 50th Division, came home and took part in the assault landing on D Day Normandy, on the 6th June, 1944. They also took part in the stubborn fighting in the Bocage to establish and extend the British bridgehead, followed by the pursuit of the Germans to the River Waal.
As part of Operation Overlord the 50th Infantry Division landed on Gold Beach. Gold Beach was the extreme right landing area of the British and Commonwealth landings on D-Day 6th June 1944. The 50th (Northumbrian) Division came ashore here between Le Hamel and Ver-sur-Mer. Attached to them would be elements of 79th (Armoured) Division. The beach was divided into two further landing areas for D Day; 231st Brigade would come in on Jig Sector at Le Hamel/Asnelles, and 69th Brigade at King Sector in front of Ver sur Mer.
George Bush, sailed from Weymouth, finding in Normandy, that the pre-invasion bombardment had been effective, as George puts it, “the Navy did the job, that day!”. The 2nd Battalion of the Cheshire Regiment as part of the 69th Infantry Brigade landed in 5 waves during the 6th June. At 06:50 (H+20) the first Vickers Machine Gun Platoons of ‘B’ Company came ashore from landing crafts 1153/G66 LSI (L) and 1153/G65 LSI (L). George landed in the first wave. They where followed at 07:15 (H+45) by further Machine Gun Platoons and the first of the 13 Hy Mortar Platoon aboard landing craft 1153/G65 LSI (L). Further Landings of the 2nd Battalion took place at 07:30, 08:00, 08:30 and 11:00, which saw the remainder of the Machine Gun and Mortar Platoons along with Handcarts, Motor Cycles, Trailers, Jeeps and Bedford 3 ton GS Lorries, which would support the battalions movement of the beach and the creation of a British Bridgehead.
The Battle for Normandy took place from the 6th June 1944 until the 21st August 1944 , with the Battalion involved in the breakout from the Normandy Beaches as part of Operation Perch (9th June t0 14th June 1944) and Operation Epsom (25th June to 30th June 1944). George was with the 2nd Cheshires, as part of XXX Corps (Garden-Ground forces),, during Operation Market Garden, travelling along ‘Hell’s Highway’, reaching Nijmegen. Following the end of WWII, George continued his service with the Cheshires, serving in the far east and Malaya.
George recalled that upon landing on Gold Beach, he had seen a crate of British self-heating soups, lying on the beach, (and being a seasoned veteran at the age of 23, and having experienced 5 years of war, prior to D-Day; George knew that a priority was to secure the food source!!!!). George jumped from the Bren Gun carrier, he was a passenger on, as it departed the landing craft; and dashed across the beach to re-patriate the soup! As George retrieved the soup, he heard Royal Navy voices, through megaphones, calling "clear the beach, it's mined!" George struggled back to the Bren Gun carrier with the soup, where he was severely reprimanded by his colleagues, as the soup had been sitting in an area of the beach that had not been cleared of mines!!!!!!! However, on the 65th Anniversary, all the Veterans present for the story-telling, were unanimous in their agreement, that the self-heating soups "were jolly good!" and all agreed, that they had probably been worth the risk!