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George William Hayes


George William Hayes was born in the early summer of 1880, in Bradford, Manchester. He was the oldest child of George and Elizabeth Ann Hayes (née Tipping). He was baptised on August 24, 1880.

Early Life

In the 1880s, the family lived at 227 Wellington Street, in Bradford. George’s father had been born in Timoleague, a village in Carbery East, County Cork, in aound1847. He was an Engineer, usually employed in driving the stationary engines that powered cotton mills, dye works and other numerous businesses at that time. George was a widower when he married Elizabeth Ann, and had a son, Harold, from his first marriage.

George’s mother, Elizabeth Ann, worked as a Dressmaker. During the 1880s, the couple had two more children: Clara born in 1883 and a son, Vere, born in 1886.

By the time of the 1891 Census, the family had moved to 29 Hewitt Street, in Openshaw, and ten years later they were at 53 Hinkley Street, in Prestwich. By the time of the 1901 Census, George (aged 21) was already working as a School Teacher. By 1914, George William was teaching at the Queen Street Elementary School. His sister, Clara, was following in his footsteps and was employed as a Pupil Teacher.

In 1911, they were living at 4 Meade Grove, in Longsight, South Manchester. George senior was unemployed at that date and he died in early 1913. Harold, George’s half-brother was aged 38, unmarried and living at home whilst employed as a Clerk and Bookkeeper.

Chester College

George attended Chester College and left in 1904.

Military Service

George enlisted on the September 5, 1914 in Manchester. He was passed fit for service and posted to the 3rd City (which was the 18th Service Battalion) Battalion, Manchester Regiment, for his initial training. He was appointed as an unpaid Lance Corporal on November 28, 1914 and that appointment was confirmed as a paid rank on February 20, 1915. He was promoted to full Corporal on November 8, 1915. The same day he first set foot in France on active service.

Lest We Forget

George was serving with the 18th Battalion, in the Manchester Regiment when it took part in the attack on Guillemont in late July 1916. On the morning of July 27, the Battalion moved up from reserve to their former position in the line at a place they called Brick Lane, which was near Trones Wood. Under heavy enemy shelling, including gas shells, on the morning of July 29, the Battalion moved into assembly trenches to the east of Trones Wood.  At 4.45 on the morning of July 30, the Battalion left the assembly trenches and began their attack on the German positions at Guillemont. There followed a day of very heavy fighting against strong German machine gun position and many instances of hand-to-hand fighting as the Battalion attacked the German trenches. At some time during that day’s fighting George was killed; his body was not found. He was initially posted as missing, but then his death was presumed to have taken place on July 30.

Post Mortem

George is commemorated on the Thiepval memorial. The memorial commemorates more than 72,000 men of British and South African forces who died in the Somme sector before March 20, 1918 and have no known grave. He was awarded the British War and Victory Medals and the 1915 Star.