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George Melia (aka O’Malley) was born into a Roman Catholic family in Blackburn in 1883. His parents were George (b. c. 1855, Stamford, Lincs) and Honora (b. c. 1855, Liverpool). In 1891 they were living at Gladstone Terrace, Livesey; and by 1901 he was living with his parents and siblings at Mellor Brook, Blackburn.

George enlisted in the Territorial Army at Chorley on 3rd December 1915 and joined the Army Reserve. He was 31 years old, had been living with his parents at 2 Salisbury Road in Brinscall and was working as a printer’s labourer at Calico Printworks. George was not married and had no previous military experience.

The medical officer described George as being 5ft 5in tall, weighing 124lbs with a 35.5in chest. The only slight defect he had, which was not sufficient to cause rejection into the service, was flat feet.

Private Melia was mobilised in March 1916 and was posted into the 2nd/4th Battalion of the Loyal North Lancashire Regiment. He was given the number 5133 which was changed to 202242 when the TF were renumbered in 1917. He sailed from Southampton and landed at Le Havre with the main body of the Battalion on 8th February 1917.

The journey across the channel hadn’t been as straight-forward as planned, half the Battalion had embarked on the SS Duchess of Argyle and sailed about 1700hrs on the 7th February, but were turned back when ‘just off Portsmouth’ owing to the presence of enemy submarines; they eventually landed at 0230hrs on the 8th; and the second half sailed on the SS Lydia at 2300hrs on 7th February, landing about 0700hrs the next morning. A third group of men, 2 officers and 29 O.R. were delayed by another day when the SS Septah wasn’t allowed to sail.

With very little time to spare, the Battalion took their first turn in the trenches just six days after arriving in France, taking over from some Kiwis at SAILLY SUR LA LYS (near Armentières on the Belgian border) on 15th February 1917. During the 10 days they were in the trenches this first time, the casualties were: 1 wounded, 3 self-inflicted, 17 sick (and a further 8 reporting sick the next day).

The Battalion remained in this area throughout the summer but, after a month’s further training in September, they moved north to Boesinghe, just north of Ypres, where they went into the trenches on 24th October, as 57th Division prepared to make its contribution to the Second Battle of Passchendaele.

George Melia was killed in action on 26th October 1917.

At 3.40 on the morning of 26th October 1917 the Battalion was formed up in its assembly position and moved off to attack at 5.40 and captured their immediate objectives (Mendling and Rubens farms) fairly quickly and with relatively light casualties. In the process, however, all four company commanders had become casualties. The centre of the attack was then held up by heavy fire from German pill boxes. The pill box was eventually taken and a more dominant position achieved, but further advance was impossible due to heavy German machine-gun fire from all sides. The Battalion captured 18 Germans and destroyed several enemy machine-guns. The ground advanced over was very bad, swampy and covered with shell holes as can be read about in the ‘messages received’ document below.

His body was not recovered from the battlefield and as such Private George Melia is remembered on the Tyne Cot Memorial. He was 34 years old.

Following his death, form 118A (Effects), of February 1918, shows that no effects were returned to the family. It also stated that Melia was an alias, and his next of kin was Mr George O’Malley of 2 Salisbury Road. It seems that this was a common name change, going from the Irish to a more anglicized spelling rather than being an alias.

The British War Medal and Allied Victory Medal were received by his mother, Mrs Honora Melia, in 1921. The family would also receive a memorial plaque and scroll in recognition of George’s sacrifice.

Rank: Private
Service No: 202242
Date of Death: 26/10/1917
Age: 34
Regiment/Service: The Loyal North Lancashire Regiment, 2nd/4th Bn.
Memorial: TYNE COT MEMORIAL

2-4th batt - 26th October 1917

On 26th October 1917, the following 112 men from the 2nd/4th  L.N.LAN.R. lost their lives;

201080 Private WILLIAM ALLEN
202324 Lance Corporal ROBERT ALMOND
202213 Private RICHARD ALTY
201998 Private JOHN ARCHER
201926 Private NORMAN BAIRD
203304 Private ERNEST BATTERSBY
201950 Private HARRY BAXENDALE
241007 Private WILLIAM HENRY BECKETT
2nd Lt ALAN BELLINGHAM
200283 Private JOSEPH BILSBORROW “C” Coy.
203813 Private JOHN EDWARD BIRCHALL
244844 Private ERNEST BLEAR
243242 Lance Corporal JOHN BOOTH
2nd Lt WILLIAM BOYLE
27204 Private ARTHUR BRIERLEY
203385 Private RAINFORD WILLIAM BULLOCK
201304 Private JAMES BURROWS
201927 Private LEVI CHILTON
201514 Private JOHN CONROY
201413 Private JOHN COOKSON
242110 Private ALEX COUGHLIN
240321 Lance Corporal WALTER COWARD
201942 Corporal JAMES CROOK
203202 Private BENJAMIN CROOKS
27179 Lance Corporal ARTHUR HARRIS DOUGLAS
203294 Private J FORREST
201951 Lance Corporal JAMES GAMBLE . “C” Coy.
200978 Private FRANCIS GARLICK
202825 Private WILLIAM GARNER
203214 Private HERBERT GREENWOOD
200570 Lance Corporal HARRY HALL
201128 Corporal ALEXANDER HALLIWELL
201083 Corporal NORMAN HILTON HAMER
203399 Private HENRY HAMPTON
203195 Private RANDOLPH HARGREAVES
200684 Lance Corporal THOMAS HARRISON
202172 Private JOHN HARRISON
202198 Private RICHARD HART
201207 Lance Corporal ANDREW HATTON
201429 Private JOHN HAWKINS
203199 Corporal JOHN RICHARD HAWORTH
265666 Private JOSEPH HAYES
200298 Corporal THOMAS HENDERSON
16829 Private ZECHARIAH HILL
203413 Private JOHN HINDS
201181 Private ELIJAH HOLDEN “D” Coy.
203280 Private JAMES HOPKINSON
2nd Lt JOHN BERNARD HORN
205129 Private JOHN ROBERT KENT
202271 Private WILLIAM ROBSON KIRBY “A” Coy
203365 Private CHARLES KITCHENER
202326 Private GEORGE LANCASTER
9836 Corporal GEORGE BRIDGEWATER LILLEY
28479 Private JOHN LOUD
203224 Private FRANK MASON
32551 Private THOMAS HENRY MAYMON
266241 Lance Corporal FREDERICK JAMES MAYNARD
240563 Private JOSEPH MAYOH
202345 Lance Corporal RICHARD McGREEVY
202242 Private GEORGE MELIA
205130 Lance Corporal JOHN JAMES MUSGRAVE
202216 Private JOSEPH NAGLE
201957 Lance Corporal JOHN NOBLET
28492 Private ERIC NOPPEN
201862 Private JOHN O CONNOR “B” Coy.
201553 Serjeant JOHN WILLIAM ODDIE
28493 Private JAMES O’HARA
200843 Private A OLDHAM
28495 Private ALBERT GEORGE PAINE
201944 Serjeant NORMAN PARKINSON
27624 Private RICHARD PATE
28542 Private HUGH PATERSON
202321 Serjeant EDWARD PAYNE “C” Coy.
200232 Serjeant JAMES PINDER
202010 Corporal CHARLES RATCLIFFE
203918 Private THOMAS RAWCLIFFE
28527 Private ALFRED ERNEST SAUNDERS
202195 Private FRED SCHOLES
200230 Private JOHN JAMES SHARPLES
201999 Lance Corporal FREDERICK JAMES SHARROCK “D” Coy.
12706 Corporal JOHN SHAW
203354 Private THOMAS SHAW
200910 Private ALFRED SIMON
14426 Private WILLIAM SMITH
201991 Private FRED SMITH
202016 Private JOHN STANLEY SMITH
203319 Private DENNIS WILLIAM SMITH
28503 Private SAMUEL SMITH
28502 Private ARTHUR SPEIGHT
200049 Corporal THOMAS SPIBY
240817 Private JOHN STEVENS
200725 Private ALFRED STOREY
203946 Private THOMAS SWARBRICK
200327 Lance Corporal VERNON ASHWORTH TAYLOR
201857 Private ARTHUR SIDNEY TAYLOR
202237 Private DANIEL TAYLOR
243801 Private JAMES TAYLOR
32061 Private WILLIAM TERRY
200512 Lance Corporal ARTHUR THOMAS
203335 Private CHARLES JOSEPH THORNBER
203369 Private OLIVER TOWNLEY
266380 Private ARTHUR UNSWORTH
203240 Private JAMES WALKER
25414 Private THOMAS WALMSLEY
28513 Private BERNARD WHEATLEY
201054 Private JAMES WHITTLE
202095 Private THOMAS WILLIAMS
32520 Private F W WILLIS
201151 Private STANLEY CLIFFORD WINSTANLEY
28533 Private GEORGE WOODMANCY
28499 Private H WOOLFITT
28514 Private JOHN WILLIAM WRIGHT

 

 

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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.
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One Response to 202242 PTE. G. MELIA. L.N.LAN.R.

  1. Clive Stewart says:

    Hi Paul,
    I have enjoyed reading this post relating to 26th October 1917.

    I have a post card sent from Rugeley Camp, Staffordshire ( Which is one of my interests) dated the 9/7/16, addressed to Reverend J Horn, York House, Oswaldtwistle, Accrington. It was sent from his son “Theo” (Theodore) Horn who was a Lieutenant in the Prince of Wales Own Yorkshire Regiment ( Brother of Lieut John Bernard Horn who was killed on the 26/10/16 and is in your list above) The front of the post card is of a locomotive ( Caladonian Railway) and the message to his father simply says ” Sorry no leave again this week end: will write tomorrow Theo 9/6/16″ Theo went to France 13/7/16 and applied for his medals 9/10/22 at which time he was living at no 43 Stockport Road Manchester. CWGC says home address was in Macclesfield. Theo was 3 years older than his brother John Bernard Horn. Thought this detail might be interesting to you.
    I was visiting Accrington yesterday for the first time to look into the 11th East lancs on 1/7/16 (Pte John Wixted kia) and went past or very near Oswaldtwistle !! Only found the post card today after recognising the name. Regards Clive

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