George was born on 4 November 1897 at 11 St Paul's Street, Stalybridge. the son of John William (a core maker) and Frances. In 1901, when the national census was taken, the family had moved to Stockport and was living at 56 Aidenfield Street, where 31 year old James worked as a caretaker at an engineering works. In that year, another son, John - known as Jack - was born and, a few years later another brother was born. The family were then living at 4 Hurst Street, Reddish (and later at 61 Adswood Lane West).
The family worshipped at the Church of Our Lord & Apostles in Shaw Heath. As a boy George was a member of the Edgeley Boys Guild. After finishing his education, he went to work as a turner at the works of McClure & Whitfield Ltd. The company is thought to have manufactured dynamos or electric motors.
When George enlisted, he joined the Cheshire Regiment. His original service number, 36881, suggests this was in the early part of 1916 - a few months after his 18th birthday. His medal entitlement records, at the National Archives, indicate he never served abroad with the Cheshires. A transfer to the Army Service Corps, before going on active service, might have resulted from a medical determination that he was not fit enough for duty in the trenches.
The ASC, however, performed vital functions in moving stores and undertaking other support services. As suggested by his Company's name, the unit was responsible for bringing water supplies to the front line troops. On the day that he was mortally wounded, the Company was near the village of Helfaut (some 20 kilometres west of the French town of Hazebrouck). They had brought supplies forward for a troop of cavalrymen and their horses, when enemy aircraft bombed the area. His mate, Corporal T H Lee, wrote to tell his parents what had happened. "When we were a short distance behind the lines, some German planes came over. George and I were disinfecting the water for the boys. A bomb dropped near us. George was badly hit and became unconscious very soon. I was hit slightly in the leg. The field stretcher-bearers of the Guards came up and dressed our wounds and George and I were taken down to the dressing station. I was with George when he died, about an hour after he was hit. Just before he passed away, he said "Oh! Mother!" That is all I heard him say after he was hit. He was a very good chum and I miss him very much."
He was buried near to where he died and, after the war, his body was exhumed and reburied at Souchez, where his grave is now tended by the Commonwealth War Graves Commission.
Updated: February 2008. My thanks to one of George's descendents for information received. JH)