Lance Corporal George Ernest BELFIELD


Regiment/Service:
Border Regiment
Unit:
7th Battalion
Service Number:
19104
Date of Death:
19 April 1917 - Killed in Action
Age:
25
Cemetery / Memorial:
Memorial Reference:
Bay 6.

Personal History:
George was born in the June quarter 1892, the third son of Lazarus (Grocer) and Alice Eliza (née Dale) Belfield of Can Hole, Burbage, Buxton. He had two older brothers, Isaac and Philip, and three younger brothers, Thomas Henry, Joseph and James Lazarus. (1901 Census RG 13/3271).

By 1911 (Census RG 14/21238) he had two younger sisters, Martha and Mary Alice. George was employed as a "Postman". (Can Hole was now known as 'Ladmanlow'.)


Military History:
According to the SDGW database, George enlisted at Manchester but unfortunately, his Service papers have been destroyed during a Second World War bombing raid. However, when reporting the death of William Goodwin 'The Buxton Advertiser' of the 18th September 1915 reported that he (William) had set off to join up in early January 1915 with "… three companions ..", these being: "G. McGlennon, G. Belfield  and J. Fern". All enlisted in The Border Regiment. His Service Number would also suggest an enlistment date in late February / early March 1915, although the 'Buxton Advertiser' (28 April 1917) called George "... This gallant lad .. one of the early ones to step out to do his 'bit'." His Medal Index Card shows that he entered France on the 3rd August 1915.

The 7th (Service) Battalion of the Border Regiment was formed at Carlisle on 7th September 1914 as part of K2 (Kitchener's New Armies) and attached to 51st Brigade in 17th (Northern) Division. They moved to Andover and on to Bovington in January 1915 and moved again to Winchester in June 1915, before embarking for Boulogne on 15th July 1915.

After landing in France George spent an initial period of trench familiarisation and then holding the front lines in the southern area of the Ypres salient. In 1916 the 51st Division was involved in fighting at the Bluff (south east of Ypres on the Comines canal), part of a number of engagements officially known as the "Actions of Spring 1916".

During the Battle of The Somme George's Division took part in "The Battle of Albert", 1st - 13th July 1916, in which the it captured Fricourt, and "The Battle of Delville Wood", 15th July - 3rd September 1916. The 7th Battalion, Border Regiment, moved up from Merlancourt on the 2nd July to occupy the old front line at Fricourt, in position in front of Fricourt Wood, and ready to attack Bottom Wood the next day. On the 3rd Railway Alley was taken at 11.30 a.m. and 'D' Company advanced up the slope, encountering strong opposition and at one time being surrounded by the enemy. The Battalion was relieved during the night and after another attack on the 8th July were withdrawn to Saisseval. Four Officers and 37 men were killed in action during this period, 20 of them during the initial attack on the 3rd. 25 of these men have no known grave and are commemorated on the Thiepval Memorial.

In the second of these Battles the Battalion moved to Pommiers Redoubt on 1st August and to front line trenches at Delville Wood on the 4th. An attack at 4.30 p.m. on the 7th August failed, before withdrawing to support positions on the 9th. 44 NCOs and men, were killed in action between the 4th and 10th August 1916. A further 31 of these men have no known grave and are commemorated on the Thiepval Memorial.

In April 1917 George's 17th (Northern) Division was involved in both the "First Battle of the Scarpe, 9 - 14 April 1917" and the "Second Battle of the Scarpe, 23 - 24 April 1917", as part of General Allenby's Third Army. George was killed in action between these two specific dates, but undoubtedly part of the same engagement, known generally as "The Battle of Arras".

The 'Buxton Advertiser' of 28th April 1917, reporting George's death, stated that he had been "killed instantly by a shell on April 19th" and had originally been ".. buried near Monchy". It seems that at some time after then his burial site was lost, and he is now commemorated on the Arras Memorial.

Sources:
· The Buxton Advertiser, 18 September 1915 and 28 April 1917                                                                                                          
· I am grateful to Michelle Young for the photo of the name on the Arras Memorial
· "British Battalions on the Somme" - Ray Westlake [ISBN-10: 0850523745] p. 160-1

Link to CWGC Record
L/Cpl Belfield's name on the Arras Memorial
The Arras Memorial
poppy
a Map of the Battle of Arras
L/Cpl George Belfield