George was one of seven brothers who served during the Great War. Arthur and George would not come home. Arthur served with the Welsh Regiment. The eldest, William, served with the Royal Field Artillery. Fred, Charles and James fought with the Cheshire Regiment. The youngest, Edward, served aboard HMS Duncan - one of the Royal Navy's battleships.
Their parents, George and Elizabeth, also had two daughters. The couple had married at St Mary's Church, Heaton Reddish in the late 1870s and, for many years, lived at Ann Street, in Reddish, first at No. 6, then No. 23.
In September 1914, when he enlisted into the army, George was working as a doubler at Reynolds’ cotton mill on Newbridge Lane. He was married to Mary and they had two children
By late October 1916, the Battle of the Somme was entering its final stages. Advances had been made since July and the Cheshires were to become involved in an attempt to wrest the high ground away from the Germans. Capture of the ridge, which ran from Martinpuich to Thiepval, would allow the British strategic control of this sector.
On 20 October, the Battalion assembled near Hessian Trench, prior to an attack on Regina Trench, held by the enemy. “A” Company was attached to 8th Battalion, Border Regiment and would attack with them. “B” and “D” Companies would then move up to occupy the front line and act as a reserve. “C” Company would remain in the support trenches.
The next day, the British artillery barrage started at 12.06pm, rolling forward across No Man’s Land before falling on the German front line trench. George and his mates in “A” Company followed very closely behind. To their left they may have seen neighbours from Stockport in the 13th Battalion who also attacked. Click here for details of their advance. The attack was a complete success and the Cheshires captured a machine gun, bombed a German dugout and then pushed forward about 400 yards beyond the trench, clearing several dugouts of the enemy and taking prisoners. At this point “C” company were brought forward to help with the consolidation of the newly captured positions.
During the 21st, 8 men had been killed, 52 wounded and another 14 were missing, but George was not amongst them. The Cheshires held their newly captured positions until 7pm on the 22nd. Some time during this day, he was killed. This was most probably by shellfire. George has no known grave and he is commemorated on the Memorial to the Missing of the Somme. Another local man who died that day was Hugh Goley.
Reporting his death, the local newspaper gave details of his brothers’ service – William was serving with the Royal Field Artillery; Fred and Charles were in training with the Cheshire Regiment; James was already serving with the Cheshires in Salonika; Arthur was in training with the Welsh Regiment in Hampshire (and would be killed in 1918) and Edward was aboard a battleship, HMS Duncan.
By the time the War Graves Commission collated its casualty information in the early 1920s, Mary had remarried to a Mr Thelwall and was living at 17 Hayfield Steet in the Portwood area of town.