George Horace Rissen
2nd Lieutenant, London Regiment
George Horace Rissen was born in 1894 and lived with his parents at Penrose Street in Southwark before moving to Hollingbourne Road in Dulwich in 1901. Horace was incredibly fond of Dulwich due to its natural beauty, farm lanes and magnificent gardens. Unfortunately, this enthusiasm did not extend to his early school life at Dulwich Hamlet School. During his time at the School, Horace felt himself to be unintelligent and unsuited to studying, leaving him with a rather negative outlook on education as a whole. This view would soon change when the Rissen family moved to Ardberg Road leading Horace to take the entrance examination to Alleyn’s School. Much to his own surprise, he managed to the pass the exam and he joined the school in 1910. Horace took great pride in being a student at Alleyn’s and studied at the school until the age of 14 when his father, who had always favoured practical knowledge over academic achievement, decided to withdraw Horace from school in order for him to start work in the family factory, the John Rissen Manufacturing Stationers and Book Binders. Although Horace was disappointed to leave his studies behind, he flourished in his new environment at the factory and would later go on to enjoy a successful business career.
Horace continued to work at the factory until the outbreak of the First World War in August 1914 when he decided to enlist in the British Expeditionary Force. After being found fit for service, he joined the 21st Co of London (1st Surrey Rifles) Regiment as a Private. The 1st Surrey Rifles served overseas on the Western Front during the war and were involved in a number of major battles such as the Battle of the Somme, the Battle of Messines and the German Spring Offensive. These notoriously bloody battles truly displayed the hardship and horror of trench warfare and Horace would later write that such events ‘took their toll in so many ways’. Like most of the young men that signed up to the war, Horace endured the difficulty of service life overseas and continually showed his bravery and courage in the field. This dedication to duty was later rewarded when he found himself being recommended for a commission. Horace completed his officer training in 1917 and re-joined his regiment as a 2nd Lieutenant shortly afterwards. He returned to England on leave on a few occasions and it was during one of these trips that he married his first wife, Dorothy Higgins. They had their first child together, Jeffrey John Rissen, on 21st April 1918. Horace returned to the Western Front after the marriage and continued to serve with the London Regiment overseas until the end of the war.
After the end of the conflict in 1918, Horace returned home to his wife and son in England. He also returned to the family business and it was at this time that he became friends with William Collins. This friendship eventually led to Horace taking up new employment with the Collins Publishing Company, an ideal job for Horace who had always had a passion for writing. He would later go on to publish a poetry book in the 1960s, entitled ‘Odd-it-is or Oddities or Odd ditties’ as well as writing 46,000 words of his memoirs.
In the 1940s, Horace’s first wife, Dorothy, sadly passed away. He later married Doris Mary Uniacke on 30th November 1940. The couple lived together on Thomas Ditton Island and had a child together named Martin. Horace continued to work for Collins Publishing until his retirement on 14th September 1959. Two years later, he moved to Selsey, Sussex with his wife where he lived until his death in 1977.