RFA West Lancs Bdes
681028 DVR. G. DITCHFIELD. R.F.A.
George Ditchfield was born on 23 September 1888 in Blackburn and baptised at Blackburn Christ Church on 7 October. His father was James Dichfield (b. 1851 in Blackburn), a cotton spinner. His mother was Margaret Lawrenson (b. 1849 in Blackburn). James and Margaret were married in 1874 and they had 13 children though 7 died young (shockingly tragic even by the ‘normal’ standard of the day). The survivors were: William (b. 1882), Jane (b. 1883), Ann (b. 1887), then George, then Herbert (b. 1891) and finally Alice (b. 1894). In 1911, James and Margaret and five of their adult children were living at 60 Rockcliffe Street, Blackburn. George was a cotton weaver.
George’s service number suggests he enlisted in May 1915 and was posted to “B” Battery of 286 Brigade. He was later transferred to a different unit. Soldiers’ Effects say he was in “A” Battery of 207 Brigade, but I can’t find any record of this Brigade on The Long Long Trail. CWGC records his unit as “A” Battery of 317th Brigade. 317Bde came under orders of 63rd (Royal Navy) Division and several men with 680*** numbers were transferred to this Division.
In 1918, 63rd Division was engaged in the following actions: the Battle of St Quentin (21-23 March 1918) and the Battle of Bapaume (24-25 March 1918) [during Operation Michael]; the Battle of Albert (21-23 August 1918); the Battle of Drocourt-Quéant (2-3 September 1918); the Battle of the Canal du Nord (27 September – 1 October 1918) and the Battle of Cambrai (8-9 October 1918). The Germans gave up Cambrai without much of a fight but as they withdrew they mounted much stiffer resistance. George survived the fighting but succumbed to the influenza pandemic and died at 4th General Hospital at Étaples on 18 November 1918. He was 30 years old.
Service No: 681028
Date of Death: 18/11/1918
Regiment/Service: Royal Field Artillery, “A” Bty, 317th Bde.
Cemetery/memorial reference: L. E. 5.
Cemetery/Memorial: ÉTAPLES MILITARY CEMETERY
Additional Information: Son of James and Margaret Ditchfield, of 16 William Street, Blackburn, Lancs.
George’s brother Herbert also served in the Army during the War. He initially enlisted with the Royal Welch Fusiliers. He may have been conscripted after 1916. He was given service number 47013. He was later transferred to the Army Service Corps and given a new service number T/388119. Herbert was awarded a disability pension at the end of the War, suggesting he was wounded or gassed. Herbert married Doris Nicholls in 1924 and later that year they had a son, Kenneth. Herbert died of ulcerative endocarditis and syncope on 7 Jan 1926.