George Harry HITCHCOCK
Rank: Driver
Number: L/18264
Unit: B Battery, 170th Brigade ROYAL FIELD ARTILLERY
Date of Death: 15 May 1918
Age: 32
Cemetery: St Amand British Cemetery, Pas de Calais, France

George was born in the Openshaw area of Manchester but had lived for many years in Edgeley. He was a skilled printer operating a linotype machine for the Stockport Advertiser and Cheshire Daily Echo group of newspapers. In his spare time, he was keen member of Edgeley Bowling Club.

170th Brigade, part of the Army’s 34th Division, was formed in the spring of 1915. Most of its members came from the north west and George was almost certainly an original member. Whilst still in training, he married his fiancée, Annie Davies, at St George’s Church. During the War, she lived at 458 Buxton Road, Stepping Hill and this may have been a home they briefly shared before he went overseas in early 1916. George had undergone additional training to become one of the signallers in the Brigade, responsible for maintaining the vital telephone wires that connected HQ to the gun positions and to the higher levels of command.

On 14 May 1918, the Brigade came out of action and started a week’s rest in the reserve area. This was still quite close to the front and men were billeted in dug-outs. The next day, the men were catching up on much needed sleep when an enemy shell hit George’s dug-out killing or wounding everyone in it. George was killed outright.

His officer wrote to Annie “I feel I must send you a few lines to say how deeply we all in this battery feel for you in your great loss in the death of your husband. He had been with us so long and had always carried out his duties so consistently under all circumstances, no matter how trying, that it is no wonder he was so valued by those under whose command he came and that he had so endeared himself to all his comrades. As a signaller, he was many a time on duty with me and his work at times was neither easy nor pleasant but I can vouch for the soldier-like way in which he invariably carried it out. We realise how much greater must be the grief to you, his wife, but hope it may to some extent afford you consolation to know how much his services were appreciated and also that when death came there was no suffering for him to bear.”

After the War, Annie emigrated to America. Immigration records show she landed at Ellis Island, New York on 25 September 1920 disembarking from the SS Mauretania which had left Britain from Southampton. She went to live with her brother, who had previously emigrated and was living at Cory Street, Fall River, Massachusetts.

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