George WORSENCROFT
Rank: Private
Number: 39442
Unit: 1/5th Battalion South Lancashire Regiment
Date of Death: 9 April 1918
Age: 19
Cemetery: Vielle-Chapelle New Military Cemetery, Lacouture, Pas de Calais, France

George's parents, Ambry Worsencroft and Annie Walters, married at St Mary's Church, Stockport, in the late autumn of 1897. The following year, George was born and, in late 1900, John was born. The family lived at 8 Stringer Street.

George's army service number dates from around 1916 and he probably joined, as a conscript, when he became 18. The number also suggests he originally joined one of the Regiment's "service battalions" - those formed for the duration of the War only. The 7th and 8th Battalions were disbanded in February 1918 with the troops being dispersed to other units, including the 1/5th Battalion.

The German Army had launched an overwhelming assault on British forces in the area of the 1916 Somme battlefield. The troops had been forced into many miles of retreat. Further north, the front was quiet but it was generally recognised that this sector would bear the brunt of an expected second attack. In early April, all units were placed on alert.  The South Lancashires, along with the other two battalions of 166th Brigade, were in reserve to the east of the French town of Bethune when the German artillery barrage finally opened at 4.15am on 9 April. The bombardment did not just fall on the front line, but the support positions and villages in the reserve areas all came under attack.

Fifteen minutes later, the brigade received orders to move forward to its designated battle positions. As they neared the front, it became clear that heavy close range fighting was underway and two companies of the South Lancashires were detached to assist the 164th Brigade. The other two Companies, "B" and "D", were sent to assist the 195th Brigade.

Heavy fighting continued all day, particularly around a position known as Mesplaux Farm and the Germans made determined attempts to break through but without success. The line was held and, by evening, the Germans faced a strongly held defensive position.

In spite of the desperate fighting, the South Lancashires had suffered few casualties. Only seven had been killed including George and another local man, William Goddard. William was one of five men to be killed when a shell landed amongst them. It is not known if George was also one of the party but, if so, he was not killed outright. Regimental records published after the war indicate that he "died of wounds". His burial, close to where they were fighting means he must have died very soon after being injured, probably whilst still being tended by the Battalion's medical officer just behind the front line.

 Both men were originally buried close to where they were died and were moved to their final resting place after the Armistice when many very small front line burial areas were closed as the land was returned to civilian use.

   
           
   
     
© 2006. Design and Layout are the property of Ihelm Enterprises Limited and cannot be reproduced without express permission.
 
Enter Search Phrase Here:(search may take up to 30 seconds) 
 
Close Search Window