Officers, N.C.O.s and Men of the 1st Battalion, Buried in Ypres Town Cemetery Extension
This cemetery contains 598 Commonwealth burials. There are 568 from the UK, 15 Canadians, 13 Australians, 1 South African and 1 from India. 103 of the burials are “Known Unto God“.
The town cemetery is close to the Menin Gate and the extension is on its east side. It was begun in October 1914 and was used until April 1915; it was also used on two further occasions in 1918.
The Extension was much increased after the Armistice, when graves were brought in from the surrounding battlefields.
The Cemetery contains 1 named soldier of the original 1st Battalion, Cheshire Regiment.
Grave: II. A. 13. Died of Wounds: 6 November 1914 Age: 32
Personal: George was born in Long Itchington, Warwickshire, in December 1882, the 2nd child of Thomas (Farm Labourer) and Sarah M. Hunt. He had an older brother, Reuben and a younger brother, John, and younger sister, Amy. In 1901 the family were living at 22 Manor Rd., Lillington, Warwickshire. (1901 Census 13/2933)
At the time of his enlistment he was employed as a Gardner, working for the ‘Leamington Nursery Company‘, and was 5’ 7¼” tall (1.71 m.), weighed 119 lbs. (8 st. 7lbs. or 104 kgs.) had a ‘fresh’ complexion, hazel eyes and light brown hair. His religion was Church of England.
George married Edith Beatrice Hughes on 3rd August 1908 at St. James’ Church, Chipping Campden, Gloucester. In 1911 (Census RG 14/18730) they are living at 1 Oxford Road, Leamington Spa, with their two oldest children, Grace Kathleen Alice (b. 6th June 1909) and Edith Amy (b. 1st September 1910). George was working as a ‘Grocer’s Vanman‘. A third child, George Edward, was born on 21st March 1913.
With effect from 31st May 1915 Edith was awarded an Army pension of 20/6d (£1.025) per week for all of them.
After his death George’s Will named his wife, Edith, as his Sole Legatee. In May 1915 she received his total effects amounting to £2 6s 3d [£2.31 – equivalent to about £190 today – 2020]. Later, in August 1919, he also received a War Gratuity of £5 [about £225 today].
Edith re-married James Summers (‘Discharged Soldier’), on 10th March 1917. Accordingly, she received a ‘Remarriage Gratuity‘ of £52 6s 9d (£53.34 – equivalent to about £3000 today). She was living at 10 Manor Road, Lillington, Leamington, at the time of the compilation of the CWGC records.
Military Service: George originally enlisted in the 5th Battalion Royal Warwickshire Regiment (Private 8469), at Warwick on 10th July 1901, aged 18 years 0 months.
He transferred to the 2nd Battalion Cheshire Regiment on 5th March 1903 after 351 days service, aged 20 years 3 months. (Clearly the dates do not match up with his age differences here!)
His service record shows during his service with the Royal Warwickshire Regiment he served in South Africa during the Boer War and was awarded the South Africa Medal (Queen’s) plus the Cape Colony Clasp.
Eligibility for this meant he must have been present for “the Spring Campaign” – September to December 1901.
George’s time with the Cheshires was not without incident. He was brought up on a charge 7 times, for drunkenness, wilful damage, gambling and unauthorised absences. The most serious was on 26th July 1904 when he was sentenced to 11 days imprisonment for allowing prisoners he was guarding to escape.
He appears to have been transferred to the Army Reserve on 16th March 1905, with his consent, but before his period of service was completed. Having joined in 1901 his 12 year period of service ought to have been completed before the outbreak of War, but it seems his Attestation Papers with the Cheshires restarted his 3 + 9 twelve year period of Service.
His Medal Index Card shows that at the outbreak of War and entered France on 16th August 1914, although his name does not appear on the Official List of those sailing for France at that time. He would, however, been one of those to escape from the Battalion’s action at Audregnies on 24th August 1914.
George died of wounds at Ypres on 6th November 1914. It is not, of course, possible to say when his wounds were received and could have been long lasting, but that are more than likely as a result of the Battalion’s engagement during the First Battle of Ypres . In particular, the 2nd phase, The Battle of Gheluvelt – 29th – 31st October 1914.
At Neuve Chappelle on the 28th the Battalion War Diary records: “Casualties: 2/Lieut. Woodhead wounded, 1 Sgt, 1 Private killed, 4 wounded, 5 missing. Enemy opened fire, which was returned about 9 p.m.“, and the following day: “Battalion in trenches, sniping and artillery fire. Battalion on outposts. Casualties: 4 wounded, 5 missing.“.
Whilst only speculation, it is quite possible that George was one of those wounded at that time, and succumbed to his injuries a few days later.
The 1st Battalion was next in action on 7th November – “Battalion in trenches. Very heavy shell fire in the morning, enemy’s infantry attacked at 2.30 p.m. ‘C’ Company went to reinforce regiment on our left. Enemy repulsed, 25 captured. Captain Pollock-Hodsoll & 2/Lieut. G R L Anderson killed. N.CO.s & men 4 killed, 22 wounded, 8 missing.”
It is unlikely this is when George was wounded as the original War Graves Burial records has the 7th crossed out, and 6th overwritten.