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George Wilding was born in Walton le Dale near Preston on the 11th October 1887 to William and Mary Ann Wilding (nee Addison). William and Mary Ann were married on the 31st May 1879 at Brownedge St. Mary`s Roman Catholic Church in Bamber Bridge.

George was one of at least seven children, William (1880), twins Margaret Ellen and Rose Ann (1881) who sadly both died within a year of each other, Rose Ann in 1882 and Margaret Ellen in 1883. Then two more brothers John (1885) and Henry (1890) and also a sister Ellen (1894).

The 1901 Census shows the family living at 28 School Lane in Walton le Dale and George who was aged 13 was working as a weaver in a cotton mill.

George married Elizabeth Battersby in 1910 and their first child, a son, George Stanley was born in the December quarter of that year. George and Elizabeth moved in with Elizabeth`s parents after they married and the 1911 Census shows them living at 60 Lark Hill in Higher Walton with their six month old son George Stanley. George senior was still working as a cotton weaver and Elizabeth was also employed in a mill as a card room hand.

In 1912 George and Elizabeth had a daughter Margaret Ellen but sadly she died the same year and then she was followed by another son Joseph in 1913.

According to the newspaper article below George enlisted at some point during December 1914 and was allocated the number 18478. Unfortunately his service papers have not survived so information is limited.

George and Elizabeth had another son William who was born in the March quarter of 1915 which was around the time George had been given his embarkation orders. He was due to sail for France on the 16 March, 1915 but prior to this he was apparently given some leave and was able to go home and see his wife and children and new baby son William.

According to his Medal Index Card George did embark for France on the 16 March, 1915 with a batch of reinforcements and after arriving in France he was posted to the 1st Battalion. The Battalion War History states that on the 18 March, 1915 the 2nd Brigade had relieved the 3rd Brigade in the Festubert sector. Later when the 1st Battalion were out of the line and back in billets in Gorre they received a draft of ninety nine non-commissioned officers and men so it`s possible this is when George joined them.

Sadly, Private George Wilding`s war ended just six months later when he was killed in action during the opening day of the Battle of Loos on 25th September, 1915.

Extract from the Battalion War Diary

Morning of the attack. Lines are to be out by 04.30hrs. Original hours for gas to commence at 04.30hrs changed to 05.30hrs. Orders to leave trenches 06.29hrs changed to 06.34hrs. Gas no sooner commenced then wind changed and blew it back on us and the front line suffered badly.

Battalion advanced at 06.35hrs but owing to gas got mixed up and all four lines advanced together, also we got mixed up with the Kings Royal Rifle Corps on our right. We advanced up to the German wire, but found it uncut and returned back to the trenches.

Colonel Sanderson led out as many men as possible again but it was of no use, and he and the Adjutant, Captain Diver were wounded and also 2nd Lieutenant P Goldie, who was with them, was killed. Our Officer casualties 9 killed, 5 wounded, 2 missing. Captain Falkner and 2nd Lieutenant Livesey, Wharton and Healy all found killed right on the German wire. 2nd Lieutenant Wasbrough, Machine-gun Officer took his two guns practically up to the German wire, he was killed, 2nd Lieutenant Gardner the other machine-gun officer went out on the left flank with his two guns. Nearly all his team was gassed and he carried a gun out himself with two men. He was gassed but came back to get ammunition and was told by the doctor to go down, but went and got more ammunition. After a small number of the Brigade had attempted to advance again, they stayed in the trenches.

Germans to our front surrendered to the 9th Kings when they had got half way to the trenches in the afternoon.

2nd Lieutenant N Collins, the senior officer left, assembled the Battalion which numbered three officers and 159 other ranks, and moved off south with the Brigade to `Chalk Pit`. 2nd Lieutenant Gardner came up later with a machine gun although was still feeling bad.

Took up position for night along Lens – La Bassee Road, right on Puits 14, left on Chalk Pit. Pouring with rain. Captain N C Phillips joined up later and took command. He had been gassed in the morning and was also still fairly bad. Captain Nangle, the medical officer, was killed whilst attending a wounded man, a great loss to the Battalion.

After George`s death had been notified to his wife and family the following article was published in the Preston Guardian.

Wilding George was awarded the 1915 Star, British War and Victory Medals and is remembered with honour on the Loos Memorial, his body having never been recovered.

George is also remembered on two local memorials, one at All Saints Church in Higher Walton and the other being on the Our Lady and St. Patricks RC Church War Memorial in Walton le Dale (pictured below).


Five years after George`s death his widow Elizabeth married William Henry Mather at All Saints Church in Higher Walton. Elizabeth and William Henry went on to have four children, two girls, Sarah Jane and Mary Elizabeth and two boys Ernest and Colin.

Rank: Private
Service No: 18478
Date of Death: 25/09/1915
Regiment/Service: The Loyal North Lancashire Regiment, 1st Bn.

Janet Davis
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