Geoffrey Palmer always took great pride in the fact that he had risen through the ranks. He had served during the Great War in the London Regiment rising to the rank of captain. He then transferred to the RAOC and was one of the group of officers to attend the first Ordnance Officers course (the Class of '22) to be run at Woolwich after the war. His service during the interwar years included a three year posting to Palestine.
On the declaration of the Second World War, he returned from Palestine to become Chief Ordnance Officer at 1BOD in Nantes supplying the British Expeditionary Force with warlike stores. In June 1940 men from the Nantes depot were evacuated together with RAF ground crew and many others on the SS Lancastria which was sunk by enemy fire with the loss of three thousand lives. It is not clear whether Palmer was a survivor, but there is evidence of him suffering trauma.
In 1941 he was given the task of creating a whole new depot at Bicester near Oxford. This combined armaments and vehicles and boasted the largest tank repair shop then in existence. He commanded Bicester until the end of the war, when he was moved to Chilwell to head up all Motor Transport activities with the rank of Major General.