Four ‘VCs’ – the extraordinary story of the Tsar’s Eton warrior

 

 

mNFcWkh7EppZW4iFjrIGZBQGeorge Schack-Sommer left Eton in 1907 and got himself a holiday job in a mine in Siberia. This meant he worked with hardy Siberian ponies an experience that earned him an interview with Captain Scott for the South Pole expedition, a job that eventually went to Captain Oates.

 

Back in Russia he worked in gold mines and fell in love with Russian culture, so when war came he immediately joined a Cossack regiment. The 12th Artirsky Hussars were unusual in having dun coloured horses – pale gold – with each squadron having horses of different hues. Over the next few months George was awarded no less than four of the highest award for gallantry in the Tsar’s army, Crosses of St George, for actions against the Austrian, the last being Class 1 which automatically involved a commission and the right to remain seated in the presence of the Tsar. Even the Soviets made sure to retain the black and orange strip of the Cross for their highest order of gallantry.

 

George died of wounds in June 1915, and is buried in a mass grave at Ternopil in Ukraine.

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