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681698 GNR. G. R. WHALLEY.  R.F.A.


George Robert Whalley was born in the third quarter of 1896 in Darwen, Lancashire.  His father was John Thomas Whalley (b. 1876 in Darwen), a cotton weaver.  His mother was Margaret Jane Waddicor (b. 1874 in Darwen).  John and Margaret were married in 1896.  George was born later that year and he had two siblings: Lily (b. 1899) and Thomas (b. 1903).  Margaret died in 1913 aged 38.  In 1911, the family was living at 22 Brandwood Street, Darwen.  George was then 14 but had started work as a clerk working for the Belgrave Paper Staining Company (they manufactured wallpaper).


George enlisted in the Royal Field Artillery and was assigned service number 681698 and he was posted to “A” Battery of 286th Brigade.


286 Brigade landed in France with 57th Division in February 1917, and fought in the defence of Armentières in the early part of the year and then in the Second Battle of Passchendaele in October.  In April 1918, they fought in the Battle of the Lys. 


After a period of rest and training, on 12 May, 286Bde returned to the front line at Sailly-au-Bois.  The rest of May and all of June were relatively quiet, with some exchanges of shell fire by both sides but no major raids or attacks.  The Brigade was back up to a reasonable strength, with about 30 Officers, 760 Other Ranks and 600 horses.  July was also relatively quiet and at the end of the month the Brigade moved from Sailly, first to Couin then on to Fosseux, west of Arras.  On 1 August, Brigade headquarters were established in Arras and after a quiet few days, heavy shelling began on 9 August.  On 10 August 2nd Lt. Waldegrave was killed when a bomb dropped on their new positions.  12-17 August was again relatively quiet, and on 17-18 August the Brigade moved to new positions at Anzin-St-Aubin, where Bdr Thomas Wells and 2nd Lt H. L. Smith were killed on 17 August.  The Brigade was withdrawn briefly, to return on 23 August at Boisleux-au-Mont.


The Brigade then supported the Infantry as they attacked Croisilles, which they captured on 27 August. Two days later they captured Bullecourt.  From 1-3 September, the Brigade supported the Infantry as they captured first Hendicourt then Cagnicourt before crossing the Hindenburg Line north of Quéant.  Quéant and Pronville fell on 3 September.  The Brigade then rested at Cagnicourt before resuming harassing fire in support of attacks on the Canal du Nord at Pronville on 11 September.  On 27 September, the Brigade supported 4th Canadian Division as they attacked and crossed the Canal du Nord and advanced to Bourlon.  George was killed in this action.  He was 22 years old.


Rank:  Gunner

Service No:  681698

Date of Death:  27/09/1918

Age:  22

Regiment/Service:  Royal Field Artillery, “A” Bty, 286th Bde.

Cemetery/memorial reference: VII. F. 30.


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