George Arthur BOULTON
Rank: Private
Number: 28962
Unit: 18th Battalion WELSH REGIMENT
Date of Death: 23 November 1917
Age: 32 (based on 1901 census)
Cemetery: Cambrai Memorial, Louveral, Nord, France

George was the second child and eldest son of the family and, in the custom of the day, was named after his father. George, senior, had married Mary Hyde in the late spring of 1882 at St Paul's Church, Portwood and the family is thought to have continued to live in the district until at least the time of the War.

By 1901, when a national census was taken, the family was living at 6 Carrington Road and there were seven children, ranging from 18 year old Esther to Bertie, just 1. Mr Boulton was a manager at one of the local cotton mills and his two eldest sons, George and Herbert, both worked as mill clerks, probably for the same employer. Nothing else is known for certain about George but the 1914 edition of Kelly's Directory lists a G Boulton as being a shopkeeper at 233 Newbridge Lane, Portwood. This is almost certainly either Mr Boulton or his future soldier son but it is impossible to be sure. George enlisted into the army at Stockport, his service number suggesting this might have been as early as 1915. He was assigned to the 18th Welsh. This was known as a "Bantam" Battalion - its men shorter the army's original regulation height of 5' 3" - and many of its original recruits were Welsh miners.

20 November 1917 would see the opening of the British assault later named as the Battle of Cambrai. It was the first "all arms" attack, with infantry, artillery, aircraft and the new tanks combining to support the advance. The 18th Welsh were not in action that day but were ordered forward for the second phase which would be an attack to strengthen the flank by capturing Bourlon Wood. The attack would led by three other battalions. The 18th Welsh would be held as a reserve.

The attack started at 10am and went reasonably well. However, at midday, the Welsh were ordered forward and told to be ready to go into action. Vicious fighting was still going on in the Wood and, at 3pm, "B" and "C" Companies were sent in to support the leading troops.

Meanwhile, "D" Company was sent to the left flank of the attack to capture some high ground near the Wood. They moved forward quickly capturing the position and taking 135 prisoners in the process.

Back in the Wood, the two Companies had engaged the Germans but had lost many men from heavy machine gun fire. Seeing that "C" Company was being particularly hard pressed, the commanding officer, Colonel Kennedy, went forward but was killed by the enemy machine gunners. The Company now had no alternative but to withdraw about 50 yards to regroup but was not able to resume the attack.

During the day, "A" Company was held back and the men acted as carrying parties bringing up ammunition for the Brigade's Machine Gun Company. They undertook this under heavy shellfire.

Sometime during the day, George was killed. His body was never recovered and identified.

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