Gunner George CALEY


Regiment/Service:
Royal Garrison Artillery
Unit:
99th Siege Battery
Service Number:
151509
Date of Death:
28 September 1917 - Died of wounds
Age:
26
Cemetery / Memorial:
Grave Reference:
I. D. 83.


Personal History:

George was born in Stafford in the June quarter 1891, the son of George J. (Police Constable) and Jessie (née Dix) Caley of Hanging Bridge, Mayfield, Staffordshire (1901 Census RG 13/3238). He had three younger sisters, Annie, Ethel and Constance, and two younger brothers, Arthur and Frank.

By 1911 (Census RG 14/21241) George had moved to Buxton and was working as a "Butcher" and living with the Bills family, at Robert Bills' Butchers, 1a Scarsdale Place, Buxton. The rest of his family were then living in Longnor, Staffs. (Census RG 14/16657)
[N.B. Jasper Allison Wheeldon was also living and also working at Bills Butchers. Robert Bill's wife, Rose Anna, was Jasper's older sister - see Footnote below.]

In the December quarter 1914 George married Sarah Elizabeth Wheeldon. They had a son, George V., the following
year and another son, Frank R., in the June quarter 1916. A third son, Stanley A., was born in the December quarter
1917, sadly after George's death. (After George was killed Sarah remarried John Longden, September quarter 1919,
and they lived at Eastview Farm, Chelmorton, Buxton.) 

Sarah Elizabeth was the daughter of George William and Mary Elizabeth Wheeldon of Dale Grange, Chelmorten,
Buxton. George was the brother of Rosa Anna, Robert Bill's wife. The photo on the right shows Sarah with her
youngest son, Stanley.

Military History:
George enlisted into the Royal Garrison Artillery in Buxton and his Medal Index Card does not show when he was posted to France, which usually means after 1915, as he was not eligible for the 1914-15 Star. Also, Records show that the 99th Battery was posted to France on the 18th May 1916. His Service papers have not survived, probably destroyed by bombing in World War II.  George's Service Number, however, indicates that he was conscripted/mobilised at the end of March 1917, being first sent to No. 4 Depot, South Camp, Ripon, arriving between the 13th March and 11th April, most probably a day either side of the 29th. He was almost certainly an original member of 418th Siege Batteryy which went out on the 20th August 1917 and was split up with one section going to the 99th, joining the 99th around the 27th August. George was with the Battery, therefore, only about a month being being wounded and dying.

The 99th (Siege) Battery, R.G.A. was a war raised unit being formed on the Forth Defences on the 13th January 1916 and was made up of  6 x 6inch Howitzers and attached to Gough's Fifth Army. The Battery was first posted to France on the 18th May 1916. Siege Batteries of the Royal Garrison Artillery were equipped with heavy howitzers, sending large calibre high explosive shells in high trajectory, plunging fire. The usual armaments were 6 inch, 8 inch and 9.2 inch howitzers, although some had huge railway- or road-mounted 12 inch howitzers.

George's Battery were within the 5th Army, V Corps Heavy Artillery and are shown as being allocated
to 'B' Group on the 8th September 1917, part of a Double Bombardment Group. This Double Group
comprised 48th and 88th HAG's under command of 77th HAG Headquarter. On 9th September 99
Siege Battery joined 70 HAG from B Group (Under Battery Commander Major ROUPELL), which was
a counter battery group, still in  the 5th Army V Corps, Commander: Lieutenant-General Sir Herbert
Plumer.

On the day he died George's Battery was engaged in The Battle of Polygon Wood (26th September -
3rd October 1917), a phase in the 1917 Battles of Third Ypres, and located near St Jean, a village
North-east of Ypres. On the day he was killed 34 more gunners of the Royal Garrison Artillery also
died and, during the phase as a whole 314 gunners plus 15 Officers lost their lives. 99 Battery had
moved into the positions vacated by 217 Siege Battery. who moved just across the road running
SW-NE through St Jean. (See Map - right)

According to the war diary of 99th Siege Battery on the 28th September 1917: "... Gunners. T. L.
Anstey and G. Caley were killed in action and Cpl J R Procter, Gnr T. Hawkins and W. Holland
were wounded near St. Jean".

George was buried behind the lines close to where he fell, north-east of Ypres, in the Reservoir Cemetery.
[Gunner 152187 Thomas L. Anstey is buried in Dozinghem Military Cemetery.]


                               

Footnote:
· Another Buxton casualty, Pt. 26188 Jasper Allison WHEELDON, worked with George at Bills' Butchers.
  After George's marriage to Sarah Elizabeth, the two men became cousins by marriage. Jasper was killed
  in action on the 18th October 1917

Sources:
· I am grateful to 'kevrow', 'essdee' and 'rflory', via the Great War Forum, for information on the location of George's
  Battery, the map and extract from the War Diary.
· "Buxton, Burbage, Chelmorton, Harpur Hill, Peak Dale, King Sterndale and Wormhill REMEMBERED" -
   Keith Taylor [ISBN 978-1-906789-99-2] p. 212-3

Link to CWGC Record
George Caley's Grave
poppy
about the Battle of Polygon Wood
Gnr George CALEY
Sarah Elizabeth Wheeldon
Wheeldon's Butchers
"Bill's Butchers", Buxton