George Merrick was born in Wolverhampton on 4 July 1885, the son of William and Frances Eve Merrick. He was baptised at St Andrew’s Church, Wolverhampton, on 20 August 1891. In that year, the family were living at 61 Evan Street, Wolverhampton, together with George’s brothers Harry, Charles, Horace and Arthur. He worked as a grocer’s assistant, but by 1901 George had become an apprentice (“Boy under training”) on board the “District Lion” ship in Cornwall.
He joined the Royal Navy on 22 January 1901, and served on numerous ships before becoming a Leading Seaman on the HMS Opal (service number 213055). The HMS Opal was an Admiralty M-class destroyer, built in Sunderland in 1915. Based at Scapa Flow, Opal took part in the Battle of Jutland, as well as in other major fleet sorties.
On the night of 12 January 1918, Opal was on night patrol with her sister ship Narborough. Due to the bad weather conditions and resultant poor visibilty, both ships crashed headlong into rocks, where they they were found battered, broken and empty two days later. A sole survivor, William Sissons, was found on a nearby island.
George Merrick is commemorated on the Portsmouth Naval Memorial.