The Madras College Archive


Former Pupil Biographies

Commander George Gilmour Armit O.B.E. (1887 - 1966)

George Gilmour Armit was born around 1887 in the beautiful surroundings of St Andrews on the east coast of Scotland. He became an avid sportsman at Madras College.

After a University education at St Andrews and Dundee, George became a ships engineer and landed a plum job on the Cunard passenger ship RMS Laconia. When the Laconia was on the Liverpool to New York/Boston run in 1913/14 he must have been itching for a game of rugby  whilst on shore leave and played for Sefton. He joined the club early in 1913 after being proposed by F.J.Haney.

With the outbreak of WW1 the Laconia was requisitioned by the Royal Navy as a patrol and protection vessel, George being granted a temporary Commission. HMS Laconia was immediately sent out to the Indian Ocean to stop enemy activity in German East Africa (now Tanzania). He was aboard this ship until June 1916 when it was returned to Cunard, a fortuitous move for him as she was torpedoed by a U-Boat returning from America in February 1917. He was discharged and transferred to the armed merchant cruiser HMS Himalaya and continued patrol and troop carrying to South Africa until December 1917 when he returned to England.

During the inter-war years George continued his engineering duties with the Cunard ship RMS Aurania on the Liverpool to New York, Quebec, Montreal route. Once again his ship was requisitioned at the outbreak of WW2 and converted to an Armed Merchant Cruiser HMS Artiflex

Being based in New York in 1941 he transferred to the Royal Canadian Naval Reserve with the rank of Engineer Lt Commander. For his distinguished service he was promoted to Engineer Commander in January 1945 and later on in the year appointed to the Most Excellent Order of the British Empire.

After the war he served on HMCS Magnificent, HMCS Niobe (the secret Canadian Naval Shore Base in Scotland) and was finally demobbed in 1947 at HMCS Scotian in Halifax, Nova Scotia.

Commander Armit retired back to his St Andrews home but did not rest on his laurels, he became a Town Councillor and Captain of the New St Andrews Golf Club. George passed away in St Andrews in 1966 and was buried in the Eastern Cemetery.

The 'Old Boys Chronicle' in the Madras College Magazine for Christmas 1912 reported:

"G. Gilmour Armit, of Rugger fame, has passed his examination for Chief Engineer."