George William BROWN M.M.
Rank: Gunner
Number: 123985
Date of Death: 7 October 1917
Age: 35
Cemetery: Lijssenthoek Military Cemetery, Belgium

George was born in Hazel Grove and his family continued to live there at least until the 1920s. His parents were John, a felt hatter, and Mary and he was their eldest child. When the Census was taken in 1901, the family was living at 4 Spring Gardens (and, later, at “Sunbeam”, Commercial Road). The Census shows he had three younger siblings - Nancy (then 15), Sarah (11) and Mary (8). 19 year old George was working as a clerk for one of the railway companies.

He was a keen footballer throughout his life and started playing in the Stockport Junior Football League. He later played in the adult Sunday League and was assistant secretary of Stockport Football Association. In the late summer of 1911, he is understood to have married Mary D Stewart in the south Manchester area. This was probably in Gorton from where she is thought to have originated (and where, in the early 1920s, she was living at 37 Gore Street).

At the time of the Great War, the couple were living at 10 Catherine Street, Stockport. He was conscripted into the army in 1916 and assigned to the artillery and had been overseas since the early summer of 1917.

The Siege Batteries of the artillery fired the heaviest weapons in the arsenal of the British Army. 23rd Battery was equipped with four howitzers. They fired 6-inch calibre shells, weighing nearly 54 kilos, over a distance of over 11 kilometres. They were used to knock out enemy artillery and also to batter German defences and strongpoints. Few detailed records remain of the day-to-day activities of most of the Siege Batteries and this is the case for the 23rd. It is not possible, therefore, to know exactly when and where George was injured.

However, it is known that he died of wounds at a field hospital rather than being killed outright and this suggests he had probably not been wounded more than a couple of days or so beforehand. Men did not spend much time at a field hospital – they were either stabilised sufficiently to be able to be evacuated to a “full facility” military hospital on the Channel coast, or they had died! George and his comrades will have been fighting in the Third Battle of Ypres, which had started on 31 July. There had been a major attack on 4 October (later officially designated as the Battle of Broodseinde) and it is probable that the 23rd will have been in action and, no doubt, attracting enemy fire.

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