George TALLENT
Rank: Private
Number: 202384
Unit: 1/4th Battalion South Lancashire Regiment
Date of Death: 9 April 1918
Age: 24
Cemetery: Chocques Military Cemetery, Pas de Calais, France

The War brought great sadness to many families but it is hard to imagine the grief that must have been in the Tallent household in April 1918. George was killed on the 9th and, the very next day, his brother, Winson, was also killed in action.

Winson H Tallent had married Alice Charlton at St Thomas's Church, Norbury, Hazel Grove, in 1887. Their first child, Frank, was born locally two years later. Winson, was born in the Stockport area in 1889, but the family then moved to Clitheroe, where John was born in 1891, George in 1894 and Godfrey in 1896. By 1901, Winson, senior, was landlord of the Lord Byrom Inn, 41 Bridge Street, Macclesfield. All the sons would serve during the War - Frank, Godfrey and John would return.

George was educated at Christ Church School, Macclesfield and King's School. At the time of the Great War, he was working for Guthrie & Co, a firm of chartered accountants in Manchester. His brother, Winson, also worked in Manchester for Beith & Stevenson Ltd, 14 Bridge Street (and is commemorated on the Company's entry in the Manchester City Battalions Book of Honour).

George's original service number, 4728, suggests he was not an early volunteer for the army, perhaps joining as late as 1916. However, by 1918, he had been promoted to acting lance-corporal and was being considered for a commission as an officer.

On 9 April 1918, the Germans launched the second phase of its spring offensives. The South Lancashires were in reserve billets at Locon (a village about 5 kilometres north of the French town of Bethune). It was a fine but misty morning and, at 4am, the German artillery opened a barrage on Locon and the surrounding area. 30 minutes later, orders were received for the Battalion to move forward. "C" Company was sent to nearby Gorre Wood, whilst the remaining troops were held at Locon until the early afternoon when they were also ordered forward to Mesplaux Farm.

At 2.40pm, the enemy infantry attacked the men at Mesplaux Farm. It was a desperate situation as there were insufficient troops to form a proper line of defence and a battalion of Seaforth Highlanders was hurried forward to plug the gaps. The History of the 55th Division records "Severe fighting took place during the rest of the day, especially around Mesplaux Farm and the enemy made numerous and determined efforts to break through. But the line held and evening saw the defensive flank complete and firm and the enemy definitely opposed by two lines of defence."

Meanwhile, the men of "C" Company at Gorre Wood had also been attacked but this seems to have been a weaker assault and the line was held with more ease.

The Battalion War Diary records that 9 men were killed in the day's fighting. As well as George, John Wright had also been killed

Reporting George's death, the local Stockport newspapers also noted that Winson was recovering from the effect of gas in France (presumably news of his death had not then reached the family); Sergeant John Tallent was also in France with anti-aircraft artillery; Driver Godfrey Tallent had emigrated to Australia and had served with the Australian forces - he had been discharged after being wounded , but had rejoined and was a motor transport company of the Army Service Corps and Lieutenant Frank Tallent had been invalided out of the Royal Field Artillery in December 1915.

As well as his commemoration on the Hazel Grove Memorial, George's name is included on five memorials in the Macclesfield area - the main town Memorial, the town hall Memorial, St Michael's Church, Christ Church School and King's School. Winson is also recorded on the first three.

Further information about George, including a photograph, can be found in the book, "Hazel Grove to Armageddon" by John Eaton.

(Page updated June 2007 following receipt of information from a descendent)

   
           
   
     
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