Chindit and painter and decorator;
Born September 10, 1919; Died August 14, 2013 .
George Fulton, who has died aged 93, was a young orderly tasked with nursing back to health the founder of one of the most fearless fighting forces of the Second World War.
Back home in Aberdeen he was an apprentice painter and decorator with the council, but in the maelstrom of war he found himself drafted into the Medical Corps after an unsuccessful attempt to join the Royal Signals.
In 1941 he was stationed in Egypt at the same time as controversial but charismatic army general Orde Wingate, who would later establish the Chindits, famed for their tenacity on missions to outwit the Japanese in the Burmese jungle.
Gen Wingate had just returned from leading Emperor Haile Selassie back into Addis Ababa after helping to drive the Italians out of Ethiopia. Despite the triumph, he was suffering from depression. He also had severe malaria and, mind and body wracked with illness, he tried to take his own life by plunging a knife into his neck.
Bleeding profusely following his suicide bid in a hotel room, Gen Wingate was taken to 15th Scottish General Hospital in Cairo for surgery. Mr Fulton, a medical orderly there, was detailed to provide special one-to-one nursing for him as he recovered and spent almost three weeks of night duty with Gen Wingate.
That first night his charge remained unconscious and heavily bandaged but, as Mr Fulton told author Tony Redding in his book on the Chindits, War in the Wilderness: "When he came to, he found everyone was from Aberdeen where his wife came from. We got on very well."
On one occasion, the normally quiet and gloomy Gen Wingate brightened on hearing that his carer had seen Movietone News footage of Selassie restored as emperor. "That was lots of fun," he told the young orderly and promptly opened his kit bag to reveal four gold interlocking rings, presented to him by Selassie, and a jewel-encrusted gold watch.
The following May, Gen Wingate was sent to Burma and began forming the guerrilla group Wingate's Raiders, better known as the Chindits, who caused chaos deep behind enemy lines. Mr Fulton later joined the legendary special force and though his former patient became his chief, they never met again. Neither did Mr Fulton let on, throughout his service in India and Burma, that he had nursed his superior.
Mr Fulton, whose father was a shore porter who served in the navy during the Great War, was born at home in Hadden Street in Aberdeen city centre. He began working at 14, spending some time in a foundry before starting a painting and decorating apprenticeship with Aberdeen Town Council.
He enlisted in the TA in April 1939 and was called up five months later, becoming engaged to his sweetheart, Jean, that very same day after spending his £5 call-up money on a ring.
After trying to join the Royal Signals he was later attached, as part of the Royal Army Medical Corps, to the 51st Highland Division. He was initially stationed at the Cruden Bay Hotel, north of Aberdeen, which had been requisitioned and become No 1 Scottish General Hospital. After training in Southampton, he set sail for Norway in 1940 but when Bergen fell, the ship turned back.
His detachment missed the 51st's battle at St Valery in early June 1940 which saw the surrender and capture of much of the division. Knowing he was then about to be sent to North Africa, he requested 24 hours' leave and headed for Aberdeen. Outside the factory where his fiancée worked he announced: "Hey, Jean, we're getting married tonight." They wed on June 18, 1940 and a week later he sailed for Egypt on the Aquitaine, as one of the troops, accompanied by a squad of Aberdeen doctors and nurses, as part of 15th Scottish General Hospital.
He spent some time in Tobruk before moving to Syria and later Burma and India. His meeting with Gen Wingate came in July 1941 and the following year saw the creation of the Chindits whose guerilla tactics against the Japanese undermined the enemy in the jungles during two major initiatives - Operation Longcloth in 1943 and Operation Thursday in 1944. Until 1942 the Japanese had mostly only known success, but Gen Wingate's special squads infiltrated their territory and helped to destroy the myth of Japanese invincibility.
Mr Fulton who, as part of the 14th Infantry Brigade, was dropped into Burma to man a casualty clearing station at a remote jungle airstrip named Aberdeen, contracted malaria during the gruelling jungle campaign and was sent to the Himalaya region in the north of India to recover. He was on leave in Calcutta in September 1944 when he heard he was to return to the UK. Demobbed in June 1946 he remained with the army reserves until 1952.
Post-war he returned to work for Aberdeen Town Council before he and his family emigrated, in 1954, to Canada where he worked as a painter for the Toronto Board of Education until retiring at 60.
A proud and gregarious Scot, well-known for his generosity, sense of humour and desire to promote his heritage, in the 1960s he set up the Scarborough Social Club and persuaded the celebrated Scots-born Canadian politician Tommy Douglas to give the Immortal Memory at a Burns' Supper. He also founded the local Caledonian Society of Scarborough, arranging shows by the White Heather Club featuring Andy Stewart and Jimmy Logan, and designed the Fulton tartan.
He built a house near Sunderland, Ontario, that he named Bon Accord Acres in honour of his hometown's motto Bon Accord, and returned to Scotland 45 times over the years where, as the furthest-flung member of the Aberdeen and District Burma Star Association, he took part in the annual Armed Forces Day parade.
His former chief, Gen Wingate, was killed in a plane crash in March 1944, soon after launching Operation Thursday and just before the birth of his son, one of whose godfathers was Selassie. In 2004 Mr Fulton was a guest of honour at a memorial service in Washington for Gen Wingate, who ended his career as a major general.
Mr Fulton, who rarely discussed his exploits as one of his Chindits, admitted he had mixed feelings about Burma. Like many of his generation he had made a determined effort to forget what he had witnessed yet he never forgot the warm comradeship among his fellow young soldiers.
Widowed in 2010 and predeceased by children George and Joan, he is survived by his son Jerry, seven grandchildren and a great-granddaughter.
We moderate all comments on HeraldScotland on either a pre-moderated or post-moderated basis. If you're a relatively new user then your comments will be reviewed before publication and if we know you well and trust you then your comments will be subject to moderation only if other users or the moderators believe you've broken the rules, which are available here.
Moderation is undertaken full-time 9am-6pm on weekdays, and on a part-time basis outwith those hours. Please be patient if your posts are not approved instantly.