George BROWN
Rank: Private
Number: 24643
Unit: 1st Battalion King’s Shropshire Light Infantry
Date of Death: 20 September 1916
Age: 29
Cemetery: Corbie Communal Cemetery Extension, Somme, France

George's name is inscribed on the main Stockport War Memorial at the Art Gallery. Other than this and the fact that he is known to have enlisted in the town, his connection with the local area is not known. His family originated from nearby Levenshulme in Manchester and he had probably come to live or work in Stockport. In 1901, when the Census was taken, his parents, Joseph and Elizabeth were living at 13 Delamere Road, Levenshulme, with their four children - Charles (then 15), George (13), Elizabeth (11) and Ada (7).

George died at a Casualty Clearing Station (field hospital) of wounds he received in battle. It cannot be known for certain exactly when he was injured but it would have been in the days immediately preceding his death.

The Battle of the Somme had started on 1 July but it was not until a month later that the 1st Battalion, KSLI was transferred from the Ypres sector to the Somme. Although they undertook tours of duty in the trenches, 15 September would be their first time in a major action on this front.

On the 14th, they moved into assembly trenches about 1000 yards south west of the village of Guillemont in preparation for the major attack next morning. The plan was that the attack would be made in three over-lapping waves. 1st KSLI would be part of the third wave which would pass through the village of Morval and dig in on north east of the village as the final objective.

The leading units attacked at zero hour - 6.30am - but were held up almost immediately by heavy machine gun fire coming from a German strongpoint known as the Quadrilateral. Supporting troops were sent forward on two occasions to press home the attack, but each time it failed. At midday, George and his comrades received orders to try again, but these were quickly cancelled as the British troop strength would be insufficient to carry the advance forward.

Further attempts to capture the Quadrilateral were made, by other units, during the night of the 15/16th but, again, without success. The opposing sides now seem to have settled down into an artillery duel which lasted until the 17th. The Regimental History notes that, up until then, casualties had been comparatively light having suffered 6 killed (including the Battalion Chaplain), 26 wounded and 4 missing.

During the early hours of the 18th, the Shropshires received orders to attack the Quadrilateral, going "over the top" at 5.50am. Within 25 minutes, "C" and "D" Companies had taken the strongpoint with all the Germans killed or taken prisoner. "A" and "B" Companies had pushed on to gain the second objective. They held these positions until relieved during the night, when they marched back to billets in the pouring rain arriving at about four in the morning of the 19th. 3 officers and 20 other ranks had been killed. Over 130 were wounded.

Whenever George was wounded, he would have received attention from the Battalion's own medical officer before being evacuated to the tented hospital at Corbie, some 30 kilometres away. There, military surgeons would have done all they could to save his life, but without success.

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