"To Keep in Memory"

George William Myers

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PRIVATE GEORGE WILLIAM MYERS.

19694, 10th (Service) Battalion, The York and Lancaster Regiment.

Killed in Action, 26th September 1915.
Age 19 years.

No known grave, therefore commemorated on the Loos Memorial, panel 105 & 106.

George William Myers was born in Thorne, near Doncaster in 1896. He the son of George Myers, a joiner from (Kirk) Sandall, near Thorne, and his wife, Emily, although her given name was Millie Auckland. Together they had three children, of which George William was the youngest. On leaving school, George began working as a gardener.

George Myers’ mother, Millie Myers died on 2nd July 1899, and her widower remarried on 30th December that year, in Market Weighton. The second Mrs Myers was Emily Brown, known as Emma.

George Myers married Clara Goodall at All Saints’ Church in Barwick on 22nd August 1914. Despite being only 18 at the time of his wedding, the marriage register gives his age as 22 years old. A civilian at the time of his wedding, and with the country at war and appealing for volunteers, George Myers initially enlisted into the King’s Own Yorkshire Light Infantry at their regimental depot in Pontefract the following month, but the group of men who enlisted into the KOYLI at the same time as George Myers were all transferred to the York and Lancaster Regiment on 1st October 1914. All the men went to the 10th Battalion of the regiment, which was a New Army battalion, and had recently formed, also at Pontefract.

The Badge of the York and Lancaster Regiment
The Badge of the York and Lancaster Regiment

The York and Lancaster’s 10th Battalion was a part of the 21st Division, and it went off to complete its training in Tring, in Hertfordshire. Initially it was in camp at Halton Park, but as the winter drew in and the rain turned to the ground into mud, a move into proper billets was required and the units dispersed into more substantial billets in nearby towns and it wasn’t until May 1915 that the infantry units of the 21st Division was able to return to Halton Park and move into a newly built hutted camp.

The units of the 21st Division crossed to France overnight on 10th -11th September 1915 from Folkestone to Boulogne, and proceeded to a rest camp to spend what was left of the night, before moving off on the afternoon of the same day, by train to Watten. Over the following two weeks, 10th Battalion was constantly moving, by route marches, towards its destination at Vermelles. On arrival at Vermelles at 10 pm on 25th September, the battalion went into the trenches for the first time, and immediately went into action on the line Hulluch-Lens Road-Hill 70 line. Putting a battalion into the line that had not had any training in trench routine and trench fighting was far from desirable, and even though the battalion was detailed to act as a reserve to the battalions involved in an attack, during the first 36 hours it had in the trenches, the battalion suffered the loss of 14 officer and 306 other ranks, either killed, wounded or missing. As the attack suffered casualties, two companies of the York and Lancaster Regiment were ordered up to reinforce the fighting units and restore momentum to the attack. These companies suffered badly from sniping and concealed machine guns, necessitating a third company being ordered up to the attack. Eventually, the three companies were driven out of the wood they were trying to take, and they were forced to fall back to on a road to the south of the wood. The remnants of the battalion made further attempts to make headway, but their losses in officers made command and control of the fighting soldiers impossible to coordinate, and every attempt to move forward failed under heavy machine gun fire.

George Myers' name on the Loos Memorial
George Myers' name on the Loos Memorial

The battalion was relieved by a battalion of Scots Guards at 3:30 am on 27th September and marched out to Noyelles-les-Vermelles. No gains had been made, and because the battlefield where the men had died was still in German hands, the dead could not be recovered for burial. Among them was Private George William Myers. Of the 71 men of the battalion who died in the fighting between 25th -27th September 1915, 68 of them have no known grave and are now commemorated on the walls of the Loos Memorial that surrounds Dud Corner Cemetery, on the apex of the Loos Battlefield.

George Myers was the first soldier from Barwick to be killed in the Great War.

In his will, George Myers’ residence is given as Tockwith, between Wetherby and York, where his father and stepmother were living. He left effects totalling £43 6s to his widow, Clara, who lived at Richmondfield Lane, in Barwick. His name also appears on the Roll of Honour at the Church of the Epiphany in Tockwith.

Dud Corner Cemetery with the Loos Memorial around it.
Dud Corner Cemetery with the Loos Memorial around it.

Remembering the Fallen of Two Villages on the Eastern Fringes of Leeds.

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