George Frederick CHASE
Rank: Private
Number: 7646
Unit: 16th Battalion MANCHESTER REGIMENT
Date of Death: 27 January 1916
Age: 32
Cemetery: Cerisy-Gailly Military Cemetery, Cerisy, Somme, France

When the 1901 Census was taken, 18 year old George Chase was living at the family home of 538 Chamber Road, Hollinwood, near Oldham. It was a "two up, two down" property but it accommodated 10 people. His parents were Richard and Mary and, as well as George, their seven other children were at home. They were Mary (then 24), Hannah (21), Catherine (18 - and perhaps George's twin), Margaret (15), Benjamin (13), John (11) and May (8).

George was working as a labourer on the railways but later trained as a fitter with the large engineering firm of Mather & Platt. When War broke out, he was working at Stockport Gasworks. In 1907, he had married Sarah Cummings, at St Thomas' Church in Norbury, Hazel Grove. They are believed to have lived at 13 Sheffield Street, Heaton Norris. They are known to have had four children and these are thought to have been Ellen (born in 1907), George (1908), Mary (1912) and Richard Frederick (1914).

George enlisted in April 1915 and some details of the period he spent in training can be found here. On 6 January 1916, George and his mates took over a section of the front line for the first time. They would now undertake tours of duty lasting three days, alternating with the 17th Battalion. On the 12th they moved to billets in the village of Suzanne, about two miles behind their sector of the front line at Maricourt. During the next tour, they suffered their first fatality when Private Harold Barrett was killed.

On the 24th, they started George's final tour. "C" Company stayed in reserve a little way behind in a support trench, but the remaining companies were spread along the front line. George and the rest of "A" Company were in Trenches 25, 26 and 27. It was fairly quiet time although there was some shelling. The Battalion's War Diary entry for the 25th records "A heavy mist till midday enabled our working parties to do some effective work in cutting anew communication trench to 26. Two enemy observation balloons were up during the day." The 26th was a very quiet day with hardly any firing.

On the 27th, the Brigadier, General Steavenson inspected "D" Company's trenches and an officer from Divisional Headquarters made a complete tour of the Battalion's positions. The day's Diary entry concludes "Pte. Lee killed by a sniper in 20 trench and Pte G F Chace (sic) in trench 26". George and Stephen Lee were the Battalion's second and third fatalities of the War. Nearly 500 more would follow.

"A" Company's Captain wrote to Sarah saying he had been on sentry duty when, at about 8.15pm, he was shot in the head, presumably by the same sniper who had killed Stephen Lee. George was unconscious until he died at about 11pm but there was nothing that could have been done for him. "You will have the knowledge that he died at his post doing his duty in a brave and noble manner. This may help you to bear your loss. He was an excellent soldier, meeting danger without fear. His comrades miss him and mine and their sympathy is with you and your children in the great loss that has befallen you and them. He was buried this morning by our chaplain in the churchyard of this little village and near him are others of his own Battalion."

George and Stephen Lee are buried in adjacent graves. Harold Barrett is buried a further down the same row.

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