George Arthur EARDLEY
Rank: 2nd Lieutenant
Unit: 2/5th Battalion King’s Own (Royal Lancaster) Regiment
Date of Death: 27 November 1917
Age: 27
Cemetery: Cambrai Memorial, Louverval, Nord, France

George Eardley's name is inscribed on the Cheadle Hulme War Memorial but his connection with the area. Perhaps he worked in the area, had family nearby or even lived here for a while. There is, however, nothing in his service file at the National Archives that gives any indication.

He had been born in Salford on 22 July 1890, the son of George Arthur and Annie Eardley. At the time of the 1901 Census, the family was living at 14 Howard Street. His father was a successful commercial traveller and the family was wealthy enough to afford a servant. His two sisters, Annie and Dorothy also lived at the family home. He was married to Amy who, after the war, was living at 263 Monton Road, Eccles, Manchester. He worked as an Assistant Relieving Officer - an official dealing with applications under the poor laws of the time.

George enlisted into the 6th Battalion, Manchester Regiment, on 14 September 1914 (service number 2812) and, at the time, was living at 182 Wellington Road, Eccles. There is no record of this service number on George's on-line medal entitlement records at the National Archives. This suggests that he may not have served overseas with the Battalion (and, therefore, been entitled to medals).  Unusually for someone destined to become an officer, his promotion was slow. Spending nearly two years as a private, he did not become a lance-corporal until June 1916. Promotion then came fast and, by 23 August 1916, he was a lance sergeant. In January 1917, his application to become an officer was approved. A medical examination that day showed him to be 5' 10" tall and 10 stone 11lbs in weight - a tall well-built young man for the time.

He commenced training at Kimnel Park Camp, in North Wales, on 5 May 1917 and was commissioned, on 29 August, into the Royal Lancasters.

The Regimental Museum of the Lancasters has confirmed that he was quickly attached to the 2/5th Battalion, Kings Own Yorkshire Light Infantry and was serving with them at the time he was killed. Although, the Yorkshires' museum was unable to confirm that from their records, George is mentioned in the official Regimental History as being killed on 27 November.

George will have been involved in the first day of the Battle of Cambrai. On 20 November, there was a major attack, involving infantry, cavalry and tanks. The 62nd Division, which included the Yorkshires quickly overran the German's defences on the Hindenberg Line, north of Havrincourt. The Division pressed on during the day, advancing a total of 7 kilometres. There were further advances the next day, but, by then, the Germans had started to counter-attack. These attacks would continue for several days.

During the night of 26/27 November, the Battalion had withdrawn to a position near Bourlon Wood. At 6.20am on the 27th, they attacked again with the intent of re-capturing the whole of the wood and the village of Bourlon. They managed to make some headway but after entering the village outskirts, they were forced back by superior forces and had to retreat to their original line. Over 55 men, including George, had been killed.

A few days later, on 5 December, a telegram was sent to Amy informing her of his death. On 24 January 1918, Amy wrote to the Army asking if George had left a will, but it is not known if he had. Several years later, she was still living at Monton Road when she again wrote to the Army claiming £2 5s which she had read in the Manchester Guardian was due to the next of kin.

If George was killed in the vicinity of the village, then his body will have been buried by the Germans. Whilst this will have been done with reverence, it is unlikely that care will have been taken to identify each man. Certainly, after the war, his grave could not be found and he is commemorated on the Memorial to the Missing, along with nearly 7000 other soldiers who died in that area in November and December 1917 and have no known grave.

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