(L to R) British War Medal; Allied Victory Medal
George was born in around 1876 in Oldham, Lancashire. His father was called William and his mother was Emma. He had 3 older siblings; Alice, Hannah and James, an older step sister called Sarah Ellen Kenyon and 3 younger siblings called Harriet, Harry and John.
William worked in one of Oldham's many cotton mills all his life. In 1881 he was a cotton carder and the family lived at 16 Bentley Street in Chadderton, Oldham. They were still here ten years later in 1891. William was now a 'cotton operative', as was George.
By 1901 the family had moved to 10 Hugh Fold in Lees, Oldham. We believe George was a piecer. We don't know William's job.
Between July and September 1901 George married Eda Ward in Oldham. They had 3 children. Janet was born between July and August 1903, Alice in around April 1910 and Joe between January and March 1912.
In 1911 the family lived at 27 Hargreaves Street on the edge of Chadderton. George worked as a ring shaper at an iron foundry. He helped to make ring frames, an important part of cotton spinning machines. They had 2 boarders living with them. Edwin Ellis was a 'broker', but Thomas Bryan Hill was a ring finisher at an iron foundry. He could well have been a colleague of George's.
By the time the First World War broke out in August 1914 George and his family had moved to 205 West Street in Lees. George left his job and joined the Army on the 26th September 1914. He enlisted in the 10th Battalion of the Manchester Regiment. This was a unit of the Territorial Force based in Oldham. George told the Army he was 34, not 38, as 38 was the upper age limit for joining the Army.
When George enlisted he was 5 feet 3 1/4 inches tall. He had 'good' vision and physical development. The original 10th Battalion had been sent overseas in early September, so George was assigned to the second 10th Battalion (2/10th), which had been formed during September. His service number was 2866.
The 2/10th Battalion moved to Southport in Lancashire during November, then to Cuckfield in Sussex during May 1915. The next month it moved to Pease Pottage, and 2 months after that, in August, to Shoreham-on-Sea.
On the 9th September George left the battalion. He was one of around 140 men with an engineering background who were removed from the battalion and sent to work in civilian factories. This was because of public outrage over a shortage of munitions and equipment for the growing Army. George was sent to the London Brick Company at Peterborough in Cambridgeshire.
George's time in the civilian world lasted until the 7th April 1916, when he rejoined the 2/10th Battalion at Witley in Surrey. Less than 3 months later he was sent overseas. He was leaving the Manchester Regiment, and could be sent to any unit that needed soldiers.
George left the UK on the 30th July. However it was not until the 19th September that he was officially transferred to The King's (Liverpool Regiment). He was posted to the 1st Battalion and given the service number 52727. The 1st Battalion was taking part in the Somme Offensive when George joined them.
We don't know much about George's time with the 1st Battalion. During November they took part in the Battle of the Ancre, which ended the Somme Offensive. They then stayed in this area of France through the rest of the year.
On the 2nd January 1917 George was returned to the UK. He had either been wounded or taken ill. He was treated at the 3rd Scottish General Hospital in Glasgow. This was known to civilians as Stobhill Hospital.
We don't know how long George spent in hospital, but he was assigned to the 3rd Battalion of The King's on the 10th April. This was a training unit based in Pembroke Dock, South Wales.
At some point the Army must have decided George was never going to be fit enough to return to duty as an infantryman. On the 25th July he was transferred to the Labour Corps and posted to 549 Home Service Employment Company. They gave him the service number 257684.
Soldiers in the Labour Corps did a wide variety of jobs, including constructing buildings and roads and moving supplies. 549 Company was based at Pembroke Dock, and provided labour to local military units such as hospitals and bases.
On the 10th December George was posted to the Western Command Labour Centre. This was an administrative unit; he was only assigned to it until he could be sent to another unit. This happened on the 24th January 1918, when he joined the Royal Engineers (RE).
As a Royal Engineer, George received the service number 442770 and the rank of Pioneer. This tells us he was not qualified in a particular trade. If he was then he would have become a Sapper. Later in 1918 members of the Royal Engineers were given new service numbers. George's became WR/178111.
We know George was a member of a Railway Transport unit of the RE, and that he returned to France with this unit on the 20th February. We don't know where he was based, or which unit he was a member of. Railways were vital to the British Army in the First World War, as they were used to quickly and efficiently move large numbers of men and large amounts of equipment around.
As the Allies advanced between August and the end of the war in November 1918 railway units were kept busy extending tracks to keep up with the front lines.
Although the war ended on the 11th November many soldiers stayed overseas for months afterwards. George was sent back to the UK for 14 days leave on the 4th January 1919. Rather than returning to his unit, the Army decided to keep him in Britain. He was assigned to the 4th Railway Operating Company when he was demobilised back to civilian life on the 4th April.
George returned to his family at 205 West Street. His time in the Army had taken its toll, though. He had developed rheumatism, or joint pain, and had also injured his knee. He was assessed as 20% disabled and awarded a pension of 5 shillings and 6 pence (5/6) per week for the next year.
The rest of George's life remains a mystery. He died in Oldham between January and March 1949, aged 73. Eda lived until she was 93, and died between October and December 1970. George's medals were donated to the Museum of the Manchester Regiment in June 2003.