George Fudge, a pioneer in microfilm

George Fudge

George Fudge was the first Branch President of the Gateshead congregation after it was re-established in the years after World War 2. George was baptised 3 December 1927 at the age eight in South Shields. Both of George's parents were Latter-day Saints and he was brought up attending youth activities. George demonstrated a remarkable spiritual maturity, at the age of 16, George sold his first Book of Mormon to a Baptist minister. Although he never served a full-time mission, George regularly contributed and supported the missionaries in his branch.

George Fudge

As a teenager, George left school and went to work in Wrights biscuit factory in South Shields. The manageress was a member of the South Shields branch and helped him get a job. In early 1939, George joined the territorial army with several of his close friends. Assigned to the Royal Field Artillery, George found himself working with artillery from the First World War. In January 1940, George was in France and serving as the driver of a radio car. Following the surrender of the Belgian army, George recalled driving officers to Dunkirk. After arriving, he was told, 'You're on your own. Just head for the beach. And then whatever happens, happens.'

In an interview, George related the experience of being on the beach: 'It was about six o'clock in the evening. They were shelling the pier that we had to run along. So, once you got to the pier you came under the jurisdiction of the navy. There were naval officers there, and they shouted our number and we scrambled up onto the pier. We would run from one officer to the next along that pier, and he would hold and wait until the shell fell and then we would run to the next one and so on.' George eventually made it back to England and would go on to serve in several other theatres of war. After serving for the entire duration of the war, George was eventually demobilised and able to return home.

Women Group

On 17 November 1947, Gateshead was re-opened and George was called as Branch President. The branch members supported the young war veteran. Throughout the war George remained valiant, turning down alcohol, tea, and other practices that went in opposition to his faith. His sister recalled, 'George paid his tithing first. He always paid his tithing, even when he was in the army. After that, he'd give some money to my mother. He would have pocket money for himself. He would go out with his friends and go to dances and things. But he would always give money to my mother, too, to help.'

Two years later, George set off from Southampton for America. Shortly after arriving in Utah, George was married to Elsie Derbyshire in the Salt Lake Temple by Elder Spencer W. Kimball and then settled into life in Utah as a genealogist, eventually becoming the managing director of the Genealogical Department of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints. In 1947, George had been hired as the first microfilm operator in the UK. In January 1986, George died of natural causes in Solihull during a Church mission in England, leaving behind his wife and children.

George was a fundamental instrument in the Church's microfilm efforts, which has enabled church and family history to become what it is today.

Group photo