George Henry Greatorex (1895-1963) was born in Nottingham England, emigrated to Canada as a child, baptized in 1913, served in the Great War, married in 1918, moved to Salt Lake City in 1920; was naturalized in Pennsylvania in 1927; raised a family of daughters born in Ontario, Nevada, and Utah; was widowed and remarried, and died in Salt Lake in 1963.
On November 25, 1917, while he was on active duty with his unit, the 87th Canadians, he wrote to Walter P. Monson, president of the Eastern States Mission:
“Dear Brother: – It gives me great pleasure to answer your letter which I received a short time ago. It was very interesting and helped me quite a lot. Since receiving it, I have had some strange experiences, which have given me occasion to be thankful to my Heavenly Father for His care over me. I will try and relate the last experience and the worst I have had since coming to France.
“We went up to the trenches one night, and by some means or other I lost the company and found myself stranded in an area that the enemy were constantly shelling. There was no moon, so it was very dark, and the best thing I could do was to dig a little trench and stay where I was until day-light. All the night shells were bursting around me, and shrapnel flying over where I was; but I was not touched by any of it.
“When daylight broke, I got up and thanked God that He had taken care of me and asked His protection for the day. I found the British headquarters, and reported, rejoining my company with the next runner that went that way. There the boys were digging themselves in, and I quickly did the same, sharing a little dugout with another fellow. That night a bombardment began, and we got shelled thick and fast, but our dugout was untouched.
“Early next morning the bombardment was reopened, and one of the first shells landed right in front of our little “house,”and the next instant we were completely buried by the dirt and mud. I thought for a while that this was my last hour on earth, but I was not one bit afraid. I know that death is but the passing from one sphere to another, and no Latter-day Saint should be afraid of death. Nevertheless I felt sorry for all my friends as my thoughts turned to them.
“Suddenly I realized that I was gradually being suffocated. ‘Can you breath?’ I said to the other fellow. I could not see him, although he was crowded up against me. ‘Yes,’ he answered, ‘but I guess we’re done for.’‘Can you move at all?’ I asked. ‘No; I can’t move a bit,’ he replied.
“By this time I was fairly gasping for breath, but just then discovered I could raise my arm. By a desperate effort I forced my hand upward and a gush of air rushed in. I asked the Lord to be with me and after a rest set to work with one hand to clear the dirt from off my head. I was soon gratified to see daylight once more. I then did the same for my comrade.’Thank God for that,’ he said. Although he does not profess to be a Christian ,there is no doubt he spoke from the depths of his soul.
“Then we commenced to call for help, but the guns were making such a noise it was hours before we were heard. At length some of the boys came and dug us out. I was sent to the hospital and am now feeling fit once more.
“I feel that I was spared so that I may do some work in the future. What it is, I do not know, but hope and pray that I will not let the opportunity slip when it comes. My testimony of the Gospel keeps growing and I can testify of its truthfulness. I know that it is accompanied by the same authority and the same gifts and blessings as in former days.
“I feel the necessity of the prayers of the Saints, as it is a hard struggle here to live up to the principles of the Gospel. It is easy to do it at home, but out in the world it is so different. I ask the Saints to pray for me and for all the boys who are fighting here in France or elsewhere.
“Brother Jamison was in good health and spirits when I heard from him last, and he said he had met Brother Brown. My address is: “Private George Greatorex, 775299, D Company, 87th Canadians, B.E.F., France.
“Praying the Lord to bless you and the Elders generally in your efforts to spread the Gospel, I am,
“Your brother in the cause of truth,