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George Ellison was born in Liverpool in about 1884.

After hostilities broke out he presented himself to the recruitment office in Liverpool on 24th September 1914 and enlisted in the Army for the duration of the war. He was 30 years old, had been working as a labourer with no previous military experience.

At the time of his enlistment the medical officer described George as being 5ft 6in tall, weighing 121lbs with a 35.5in chest and being of ‘fair’ physical development. He had dark brown eyes, brown hair and was of fresh complexion.

George was posted into the newly raised 10th (Service) Battalion of the Loyal North Lancashire Regiment with the number 16419 and began his training for service overseas. At some point he qualified as a machine gunner.

George sailed to France with the main body of the 10th Battalion on 31st July 1915 and about a year later, at Pozieres on 17th July 1916, sustained a gun shot would to his left chest and abdomen.

16th July 1916 – Pozieres

The Bn was detailed to proceed to the Chalk pit in close support of the 111th Brigade who were to attack POZIERES. The attack commenced at 09:00hrs, but they failed to gain their objective, suffering very heavy casualties.

At 16:00hrs the attack was renewed, this Bn being the 4th wave of the attack, again however our objective was not realised as the whole village of Pozieres whistled with machine-guns. We suffered almost 40 casualties including 2/Lieut Couper, Lieut Peskett, 2/Lieut Hays and 2/Lieut Wren.

17th July 1916 – Pozieres

Last night, very late we relieved all the Battalions in the new advanced positions just outside Pozieres, and suffered only two casualties in doing so.

He was evacuated back to the UK on the Hospital Ship Asturias and was treated at the 4th Scottish General Hospital, Stobhill, Glasgow between 24th July – 11th October 1916.

Hospital Ship Asturias

Hospital Ship Asturias

George was discharged from the Glasgow hospital and placed on the books of the 3rd (Reserve) Battalion at Felixstowe until he sailed back to France (again from Folkstone to Boulogne) on 25th February 1917 where, after three weeks at the 25th Base Depot, joined the 9th Battalion in the field.

In June 1917 he was appointed Lance Corporal in order to ‘complete the establishment’.

Between 4-18th February 1918 he was permitted a furlough of leave to the UK where he married Elizabeth Murray in Liverpool on the Valentines day. George and Elizabeth would enjoy only four days together as man and wife before he sailed back to France and sadly just four weeks after his return he was reported missing in action, later to be confirmed as being killed on 22nd March 1918.

On 21st March 1918, when the Germans launched their Spring Offensive, 9th Bn was on the Cambrai-Bapaume road, north of the River Somme.  The first phase of the Offensive was launched on that day, the German objective being to defeat the British Army on the Somme, break through and capture the strategic towns of Amiens and Arras, after which they believed the French would surrender.  The Offensive ultimately failed, but it very nearly succeeded.

When 74th Brigade (of which 9th Bn was a part) reached its position on 21 March it became clear that the advancing enemy had not only forced its way through the front defensive position, but in some places had actually entered the second line.  9th Bn was north of the Cambrai-Bapaume road and 11 Lancashire Fusiliers were to the south.  The Regimental History reports casualties on the night of the 21st as relatively light (though the final casualty list below gives a different impression).  On the morning of 22nd March the fighting began in earnest.

Enemy shelling began early, soon after dawn on the 22nd, and by 7.30 the first attack was well on its way along the line…  From midday onwards, owing to reports received of the enemy massing astride the Bapaume-Cambrai road, the 9 L.N.LAN.R. were moved gradually up to reinforce (other Battalions).  The Germans were continually pressing on in large numbers, and very heavy casualties were inflicted on them by 9 L.N.LAN.R. and other troops in this portion of the line.  About 4pm a small party of the enemy with machine-guns broke through on the left of the Battalion, and, with their numbers steadily increasing, the line north of the Bapaume-Cambrai road became intolerable…  Many officers and other ranks had already been killed.  The O.C. decided to withdraw to the south side of the road, with a view to a counter-attack, but before this could be carried out, it was found that the Germans had also broken through south of the road.  This increased their difficulties so much that by 5.30pm most of the men were casualties and the remainder were successfully withdrawn in small parties to the new position.

That evening the Battalion was forced back to Beaumetz, and the following day they were forced to withdraw again, to Frémicourt, just outside Bapaume.

This attack was a stunning success for the Germans, but the advancing troops moved so far ahead of their supply lines that they ran out of food and ammunition and were unable to press forward and ultimately the advance ran out of steam without achieving its objectives.

The Germans buried 33 British soldiers alongside their own men in what they knew as No.9 Military Cemetery in the village of Beaumetz-les-Cambrai just south of the main road from Bapaume to Cambrai. After the Armistice the German casualties were moved to other sites, and the British were placed in collective graves. This would be the first time that the resting place of Lance Corporal George Ellison would be known, probably due to finding some form of identity information upon his body. He was placed in collective grave I.B. alongside four of his comrades;

Collective Grave I.B.
201332 Private J ECCLES
16419 Lance Corporal G ELLISON
19454 Private J GREEN
30321 Private H HAMNETT
30303 Private F J HEWITT

In 1921 Elizabeth Ellison of 49 Pickwick Street, Liverpool took receipt of her late-husband’s 1914/15 Star, British War Medal and Allied Victory Medal. She would also receive a memorial plaque and scroll being his name in recognition for the sacrifice he made.

Rank: Lance Corporal
Service No: 16419
Date of Death: 22/03/1918
Regiment/Service: The Loyal North Lancashire Regiment, 9th Bn.
Cemetery: BEAUMETZ-LES-CAMBRAI MILITARY CEMETERY NO.1

Paul McCormick
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Paul McCormick

Paul McCormick is the creator and administrator for the Loyal North Lancashire Regiment website. Since 2010 he has been researching the soldiers that served during the First World War and sharing their stories on his website. You can contact Paul through the website 'Contact Me' page or on Twitter and Facebook.
Paul McCormick
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