George Edward HOPKINS
Rank: Private
Number: 15268
Unit: 15th Battalion CHESHIRE REGIMENT
Date of Death: 24 November 1917
Age: 23
Cemetery: Cement House Cemetery, Langemarck, Belgium

The family history website, FreeBMD, confirms George's birth was registered at Stockport, between October and December 1894. It also confirms his middle name as Edward. He lived with his parents at 67 Bowden Street. Edgeley.

George worked at the Portwood Spinning Company until he volunteered for the army on 2 September 1914. He is reported to have gone overseas after training, in the following September. The 15th Cheshires did not go on active service until February 1916, so he must have originally been a member of another Battalion. He was reported to have been wounded in action of 24 October 1916, during the Battle of the Somme, and was returned to Britain to recover. He was fit enough to return to duty in March 1917 and this is when he will have been transferred to the 15th Battalion.

By the autumn of 1917, he was hoping to have a few days leave but, on 24 November, the Battalion started a tour of duty in the front line. In the morning, they left "P" Camp near the Belgian town of Poperinghe and moved by light railway towards the front line, about 20 kilometres to the east. They relieved the 17th Battalion, Lancashire Fusiliers, south west of Poelcappelle.

The times of reliefs were often known to opposing sides as the troop movements would be spotted by aircraft and it was a favourite time for artillery shelling, in the hope of catching soldiers away from the protection of the trenches and dug-outs. 24 November was no exception and the Cheshires were shelled as they went towards the front line at a position known as the Triangle, suffering 19 casualties. George was one of the five men killed.

He will have been buried very close to where he was killed. After the Armistice in 1918, many of these small front-line burial areas were closed, as the land was returned to civilian use, and the bodies moved to larger cemeteries which can be more easily maintained by the Commonwealth War Graves Commission.  Cement House Cemetery continues to be used by the Commission for the burial of remains still regularly found in the area.

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