Geoffrey Hamilton BAGSHAWE
Rank: 2nd Lieutenant
Number:
Unit: 1st (Royal) DRAGOONS
Date of Death: 13 May 1915
Age: 25
Cemetery: Menin Gate Memorial, Ieper, Belgium

Geoffrey was the son of Ernest and Alice Bagshawe of Ford Hall, Chapel-en-le-Frith and Poise House, Hazel Grove. His father had been born Ernest Carver, the grandson of the founder of Hollins Mill Company and the son of Thomas Carver, a well known Manchester philanthropist. Alice was the daughter of W G Greaves-Bagshawe and, when he died in 1914, she inherited Ford Hall. At that point, Ernest, Alice and the children changed their surname, by deed poll, to Bagshawe.

Geoffrey was educated at Christ College, Oxford and then obtained a commission in the 1st Dragoons, serving for three years in South Africa. When the Regiment returned to Britain, in 1913, he left the army and went to farm in Rhodesia. When War was declared in August 1914, he immediately returned and rejoined his unit, going to France the next month. On 11 November, Geoffrey was wounded in the leg by shrapnel and was invalided home to recover.

He rejoined his regiment, in the Ypres salient, only a few weeks before he was killed. Fighting around Ypres (now Ieper) had been intense since 22 April, when the Germans launched a massive assault, involving the use of poison gas for the first time in history. Casualties had been so heavy that the cavalry had been pressed into action to serve in the trenches as infantry.

On 13 May, Geoffrey’s unit was in the support trenches, just behind the front line, north of Bellewaarde Lake, near Hooge (a couple of kilometres from the town centre). At 4am, an intense German bombardment rained down on their positions, causing many casualties. Three hours later, they received orders to immediately move forward down the trench system to support the 3rd Dragoons, who were reported to have been forced to withdraw from the front line by an enemy infantry attack. When they arrived, they learnt the information was wrong and they started to make their way back to their original positions. Once again, they were caught by another barrage of shells and further casualties were suffered. Over 20 men had been killed during the day and about 150 more wounded.

The news of Geoffrey’s death came to Hazel Grove police station by telegram on 16 May. His family was in London at the time, so the news was received by their gardener.

There is a letter in Geoffrey’s service file from the War Office saying that he had been buried “in the open near the road south of Square i.11.b, Map Sheet 28”. An examination of a trench map of the time (www.pathsofglory.co.uk) suggests this is about 4 kilometres east of the town of Ypres and must be near the road which ran down the western side of “Railway Wood”. The location of his grave became lost in the years of fighting that followed and he is now commemorated on the Memorial to the Missing at Ieper.

It’s not known if Geoffrey left a will but his estate included £260.2.8 (deposited with Messrs Cox & Co) and £427.1.11 (with the Standard Bank of South Africa), the total being worth over £35k at current values. Geoffrey was the cousin of Harold Barlow, Basil Carver and Oswald Carver, also commemorated on local war memorials. His younger brother, Francis, served as a Lieutenant attached to the Tank Corps and survived the war, as did his two brothers in law who served with the Royal Navy.

Further information about Geoffrey, including a photograph, can be found in the books “Hazel Grove to Armageddon” by John Eaton and “Remembered” by P Clarke, A Cook and J Bintliff.

   
           
   
     
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