Tributes to Hull man who cheated death in Korean War
HE CHEATED death when a hand grenade landed next to his feet in the "Forgotten War".
Today, the handful of Hull's last remaining veterans of the 1950s Korean War were giving a final salute to their former brother-in-arm, George Commander, who has died, aged 82, from prostate cancer.
Mr Commander, the youngest of eight children, joined the Army aged 17 and served in the war zone from November 1951 to August 1952.
His wife Muriel, who believes there are only six or so surviving Korean veterans in Hull, said: "George was very proud to have served.
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"He always spoke of how cold it was in the harsh winter. Conditions were awful."
Mr Commander, a lance bombardier, served with 14th Field Regiment, Royal Artillery, as a radio operator.
Mrs Commander, of North Road, west Hull, said: "One day there was a break in communications and George was sent to investigate the reason for it.
"George, who was carrying a great big radio pack, and the others ran into a group of Chinese.
"A hand grenade landed next to his feet. George told me he thought, in that second, 'That's me – I'm off the face of this earth.'
"Luckily, it didn't explode."
Mr Commander grew up off Hessle Road in west Hull.
"He was evacuated, briefly, to Scarborough during the war, but he was soon back in Hull," said Mrs Commander. "George used to help his siblings get up and into the shelter when the sirens wailed in the middle of the night."
Mr Commander left the Army in 1953 and returned to Hull, where he married his wife in 1956.
He gained employment delivering coal on barges, before switching to delivery vans.
Mr Commander worked for the Co-Operative and then White Arrow, a delivery company no longer in existence.
Years after the conflict, Mr Commander joined the Hull branch of the British Korean Veterans' Association.
In 1997, he returned to Korea, where he visited old battlegrounds, and in 2010 he was presented with a certificate of appreciation from the Korean Government.
Mr and Mrs Commander have two sons, Ian and Grahame, three grandchildren, Helen, Louise and David, and a two-year-old great-grandson, Kieran.
Mrs Commander paid tribute to a kind-hearted family man. She said: "George loved his family. He was a real people person. He was very friendly and would do anything for anyone."
Mr Commander's funeral was due to be held at 12.30pm today in the large chapel at Chanterlands Crematorium in west Hull.