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george-frederick-handel-graceyBELFAST MAN TWICE FACED FIRING SQUAD

Save Children Fund ex-chief dies.

CAPT. GEORGE FREDERICK HANDEL GRACEY, a Belfast man, who after an adventurous life is Asia, devoted himself to the work of helping children all over the world as general secretary of the Save the Children Fund, has died at Radlett, Herts. He was 79.

Capt. Gracey in 1904 went as a missionary to Urfa, Turkey. He became a member of the American relief expedition to the Caucasus to assist the 200,000 Armenians who fled from Turkey to Russia in 1915, and the following year, single handed, organised the evacuation of 25,000 Armenians from Van in Turkey to Igdir in Russia.

In 1917 he became Intelligence Staff Officer to the British Military mission at Tiflis and raised large numbers of Armenians, Russians and Georgians to hold positions evacuated by Russian troops who had turned Bolshevik.

Captured later by the Bolsheviks, he was twice taken out to face a firing squad but saved through last minute changes of plan. He was imprisoned at Valadikavkaz and Moscow for nine months before he was exchanged and returned to England. Once the Turks offered £10,000 for his capture.

Capt. Gracey became the first British representative to the Armenian Republic of Erivan in 1919, and when the Republic was overthrown, he returned home and took up charitable work for the Armenians and Assyrians.

This led to his association with the Save the Children Fund, on whose behalf he later travelled widely as overseas delegate. He retired from the general secretary ship of the fund in 1948.

As well as the D.S.O., he held the Russian Order of St. Anne, 2nd class, with crossed swords, and the Order of St. Gregory Illuminator, 1st class.

He married in 1909 Miss Amelia Coulter, of Belfast and is survived by his widow, two sons and two daughters.