Captain Geoffrey Yates HEALD


Regiment/Service:
Lancashire Fusiliers
Unit:
15th Battalion (1st Salford Pals) - 2nd Lieutenant
13th Battalion - Captain
Service Number:
n/a
Date of Death:
1 July 1916 - Killed in Action
(1st day Battle of the Somme)
Age:
20
Cemetery / Memorial:
Grave Number:
V. E. 1.



Personal History:

Geoffrey was born on 16th November 1895 at Holly Bank, Urmston, Manchester, the youngest son of William (Bank Clerk, Williams Deacon Bank, Manchester) and Sarah Ann Heald. In 1901 the family was living at 39 Stretford Road, Urmston, He had an older brother, Oliver W. and two older sisters, Jesse J. and Dorothy May. (1901 Census RG 13/3667)

By 1911 (Census RG 14/23623) the family had moved to Orford House, Barnfield, Urmston. Geoffrey won a scholarship to Manchester Grammar School and he became a sergeant in St Clements Church Lads Brigade Urmston. He was an actuarial clerk with the Refuge Assurance Co. Manchester. His home address in 1916 was recorded as "Northfield, Urmston, Manchester".

In February 1918, after Geoffrey's death, Mrs. Heald promoted a concert in memory of her son at the Salford Royal Technical Institute, and this raised 62 for the Lancashire Fusiliers comforts fund. Probate Records show that he left 192 1s 4d [a relative value of about 11,030 today - 2014] to his mother.

Sometime after 1918 the family must have moved to Buxton and Geoffrey's father, William, died there in 1924 and, along with his wife, Sarah, is buried in Buxton Cemetery. Alongside their headstone is an engraved cross in remembrance of Geoffrey.

Geoffrey's name is NOT on the Buxton Memorial, but is included here in respect of his commemorative cross in Buxton Cemetery.
Military History:
Originally Platoon Commander No 7 Platoon, Geoffrey progressed to later being Officer Commanding B/Company 15th (1st Salford Pals) Battalion, Lancashire Fusiliers.

It seems from his MIC that having been appointed 2nd Lieutenant on 25th September 1914 with the 15th Battalion (Salford Pals) (London Gazette 4th November 1914) at some point he transferred to the 13th Battalion as a Captain - appointed 7th May 1916 (London Gazette 23rd June 1916).

On the 1st July the 1st Salford Pals were in the 96th Brigade, 32nd Division, and were on the left of the Division's attack in front of Thiepval. Geoffrey was one of the 470 men lost as casualties from the 624 who attacked, 273 of whom were killed in action. The few men who did reach the German lines were captured or killed by the Germans but most of the men did not even get that far, they, like Geoffrey, were cut up by machine-gun fire from Thiepval Chateau.

L/Cpl Fairburn was in 'B' Company under Captain Heald. "He led us very bravely, shouting to us 'Come on Salford, in at them'. I saw him with my own eyes take out his revolver and shoot three Bosches down, then he was hit while assisting 'A' Company, whom we had then caught up. Whatever his fate, he was a hero." Private W. Evans, who was about 20 yards to the left of him, also saw Captain Heald hit by machine gun fire, and said he was killed instantly.

Of the 273 men to be killed on the first day of The Battle of the Somme, Geoffrey is one of just 67 to have a known grave - the others are commemorated on the Thiepval Memorial. He lies with two other men from the Battalion in Lonsdale Cemetery.

[Lieutenant Robert Ivan Doncaster, of the same Battalion, was killed on the same day
and is buried in the same Cemetery.]


Sources:
· I am grateful to the British War Graves for the photo of Georffrey's Grave
· "GOD'S OWN - 1st SALFORD PALS 1914-1916" by Neil Drum & Roger Dowson, p. 37





Link to CWGC Record
Capt. G Y Heald's Grave
Salford pals Memorial in Poilu
A brick built memorial to the Salford Pals in the village of Poilu.
Capt. G Y Heald
Geoffrey's Memorial Cross alongside his parents' grave
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