Happy St George's Day! In the spirit of the celebration, we've had a dig around in the records, and have discovered a 'George Dragon' among them. So in honour of the day, may we introduce...
In the Merchant Navy, 'the real George Dragon'
Meet George Dragon. He was born in Southampton on the 19th March 1885, and joined the Merchant Navy in his early thirties. The earliest record of him serving, according to his card below, is the 31st July 1919:
The Legend of St George
There are several versions of the St George's Day legend, but according to medieval bestseller The Golden Legend, the story is roughly as follows.
A land called Silene in Libya is beset by an evil dragon. The venomous beast carries a plague which ravages the land, and in order to placate it, the townspeople under the command of the king Selinus, feed the dragon two sheep every day.
When the sheep fail to satisfy the dragon, the people start to feed it their children, who are chosen by lottery for the sacrifice. One day, the lot falls upon the king's daughter, Sabra.
Beside himself with grief, the king offers the townspeople all his riches and half his land if his daughter might be spared. They refuse however, and his daughter is sent dressed as a bride, to be slaughtered. She is bound and left by the lake.
By incredible chance, St George happens to ride past the stricken princess, and stops to offer his aid. Sabra tries to send him away, but George refuses, and stays with her, preparing to face the dragon.
- Saint George and the Dragon by Paolo Uccello
As they talk, the dragon rises out of the lake. Fortified by the sign of the cross, St George charges at the beast, striking a brutal blow with his lance. He then lashes the beast using princess Sabra's girdle, and the dragon follows her meekly back to the town.
Upon their approach, St George calls out to the terrified population that if they consent to be baptised, he will kill the dragon immediately before their eyes. They accept, and St George slays the dragon without further ado.
The king builds a church on the site where St George slew the dragon, and from its alter burst a spring, whose waters cured all ills.