When the 1901 Census was taken, John and Mary Gresty were living at 140 Shaw Heath, Cale Green, with their five children - John (then 14), Mary (12), George (10), William (7) and Frank (3). They later moved to 51 Hardcastle Street, Edgeley. Nothing is known of George's early life but, by the time of the Great War, he was working as an assistant manager for the Maypole Dairy in Longsight. He worshipped at St Thomas' Church and was secretary of the "Mens Meeting".
In the autumn of 1914, George travelled into Manchester and enlisted into the Army, joining the seventh of the "Pals Battalions" that had been formed by the Manchester Regiment. He was assigned to No. 7 Platoon, "B" Company but is understood to have later transferred to "D" Company. Some details of the recruitment and training of the Pals is here.
After training, the 22nd Battalion went overseas on active service in November 1915. They were sent to the area of the Somme and, even in early 1916, would have been starting to prepare for the forthcoming "Big Push" that would take place in the summer.
George's officer wrote to Mr & Mrs Gresty to tell them what had happened to him. "Yesterday morning in the trenches we were shelled pretty heavily and he, with two lance corporals of his own platoon, were killed instantaneously by the explosion of a heavy shell. It may be some little consolation to you to know that he knew nothing of pain and that in my opinion his death was the result of self-sacrifice. The orders were that all men were to take cover as far as possible and your son saw that this was done without giving a thought to his personal safety. I was talking to him a couple of minutes before it happened while doing my tour of duty along the trench and he was then extremely bright and cheerful under rather trying circumstances. He was buried yesterday evening in our little Cemetery, behind the lines and I attended the service which was conducted by the Church of England chaplain. Full military honours were accorded as far as it was possible when so near to the enemy." Lance Corporal John Helliwell, from Todmorden, is also buried at Bronfay Farm Cemetery. In fact, Lance Corporal Alfred Heathcote, from the Salford area, had not been killed outright, although he did not survive for long. He was in the process of being evacuated to a field hospital when he died and is buried at Citadel Cemetery, at nearby Fricourt.