Almost nothing is known of George’s life except that he had been born in the Heaton Norris area of Stockport, on 2 March 1889. His parents were George and Alice who, in the early 1920s, were living at 2 Legh Street, Patricroft.
When War was declared in August 1914, there were thousands of men who had served in the Royal Navy and were still part of its reserve forces, able to be recalled in the need arose. The need had obviously arisen yet there were insufficient ships for the men. They were hurriedly thrown together to form two Brigades of men who would fight on land alongside a Brigade of regular Marines. The Marines landed in France on 20 September with orders to march northwards to help the Belgian Army with the defence of Antwerp.
The reservist sailors arrived a few days later on 5 October. In the haste to get them into action, few had even the most basic of equipment like water bottles or mess tins. Only three days before they had been given their weapons – obsolete rifles.
Almost as soon as they arrived near the front line, the orders were issued for a retreat. The German attack was proving too strong to resist and the Belgian and British forces undertook a fighting withdrawal. It is reported that only 22 members of the 700 strong Collingwood Battalion managed to get back to Britain. Many escaped across the border into neutral Holland, where they were interned for the rest of the War. Others, like George, were taken prisoner by the Germans.
George was sent to a prisoner of war camp at Rohrbeck where he died at 9am on 13 may, from what was recorded as a “heart collapse following pneumonia”.