George POTTS
Rank: Lance Corporal
Number: 49019
Unit: 9th Battalion CHESHIRE Regiment
Date of Death: 5 November 1917
Age: 20
Cemetery: Etaples Military Cemetery, Pas de Calais, France

In the summer of 1893, George Potts married Victoria Rose at St George's Church, Poynton. In 1897, their eldest son was born and they named him George. George, senior, worked as a telegraph clerk and the family lived at 98 Vicarage Road, Adswood. He attended St George's Day School and St Thomas' Sunday School. The family also worshipped at St Thomas'.

When he left school, he worked for Messrs Simpson & Godlee Ltd , Salford. George was employed in the Company's warehouse and is commemorated in their entry in the Manchester Battalions Roll of Honour (page 612). The company, who were cotton manufacturers and calico printers, is still registered today, although it is, apparently, no longer trading.

George's original service number, 1697, indicates he was, almost certainly, a pre-war member of the Territorial Army and was mobilised when war was declared on 4 August 1914. It would seem that a blind eye was turned to his age as he is went overseas aged 17. It was reported that he served with the 1/4th Battalion, however, this does not appear to accord with other known information. He was reported to have been invalided home in December of 1914 with frostbite, yet the 1/4th did not go overseas until 1915. Much more likely, and consistent with his service number, is that he was a member of Stockport's local battalion - the 1/6th. An account of their early weeks of service is here.

George spent several weeks recovering from the frostbite in a Norfolk hospital before returning to the front on 30 August 1915. Later, he contracted trench fever and was again invalided home, spending time in Lincoln Military Hospital and the Devonshire Hospital in Buxton. It is probable that during this period, he was re-assigned to the 9th Battalion and issued the above five-digit number in mid-1916. He returned to the front on 24 April 1917.

On 22 October 1917, the Battalion was in trenches, near the village of Kemmel, south of the Belgian town of Ypres (now Ieper). As will be seen later, George was a tall man and it must have been difficult for him to keep safe in the sometimes shallow trench system. This day, he was shot by a German sniper. He was wounded in the right arm and his shoulder was shattered. He was evacuated along the casualty chain until he reached 26th General Hospital at Etaples. A nursing sister at the hospital later wrote to the family saying that, whilst it was a serious wound and he had been unconscious for some time, George had been improving and it had been hoped he would recover, but he died suddenly.

The Stockport Advertiser, in its edition of 23 November 1917, described him as "a fine young man, standing six feet in height and broad set. Soldiering, an open air life and military drill and marching brought about a splendid physical development. He was a good and conscientious soldier."

Much of the personal information recorded here is taken from an early project researching the men commemorated on the Memorial at St George's Church.

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