Private George William MYCOCK


Regiment/Service:
Sherwood Foresters
(Notts and Derby Regiment)
Unit:
1/6th Battalion
Service Number:
240096
(Formerly: 1287, 6th (TF) Battalion)
Date of Death:
3 October 1918 - Killed in Action    
Age:
25
Cemetery / Memorial:
Grave Reference:
VI. 10.

Personal History:
George was born in the December quarter 1892, probably at 6 Market Street, Buxton, the son of William (Carter for District Council) and Jane (née Wain) Mycock. He had an older brother, Charles, and three younger brothers, Frederick Arthur, Clifford and Thomas William Leighford. In 1901 (Census RG 13/3269) they were living at 4 Dale Road, Buxton.

By 1911 (Census RG 14/21241) George's mother had died and the family were at the same address. He was employed as a "Joiner's Apprentice", working for his uncle, Joseph Harrison, of Market Street, Buxton. [see Footnote 2 below]
When he enlisted in 1910 George was 5 ft. 3¾ ins. (1.62 m) tall. In reporting his death 'The Buxton Advertiser' (28 December 1918) said that he was ".. affectionately called 'Georgie' by all his friends". It went on to say:

"As a boy Georgie Mycock was for many years leader and soloist with his friend, Brian Smith, also one of the brave dead, in St John's Church Choir. ……. also well known as a clever footballer, a member of the Buxton Operatic Society, and as an adult member of St. James' Choir.   [N.B. Pt. 2387 Brian Haigh SMITH served with the The King's (Liverpool Regiment) and was killed in action on the 15th May 1915]

He [George] was one of five brothers, all serving with the forces, a record of which his father may be proud. Straightforward, upright, genuine, unaffected, kind and thoughtful, to know him was to respect and love him. [see Footnote 2 below]

How we shall mourn all those who, for love of country and for freedom, have given their all, save with proud remembrance and thankfulness that England can yet breed such men. Surely in such as these consists the wealth of nations."

Military History:
George enlisted in the 6th Battalion, Territorial Force, in Buxton, as Private 1287, on the 30th August 1910, aged 17 years 10 months, joining "C" Company, under Capt. E. H. Heathcote. His initial engagement was for 4 years, later extended "For the duration". On Sunday, 26th July 1914 the Battalion went into camp at Hunmanby on the Yorkshire coast, for its annual training, War was already imminent, with Austria having declared War on Serbia just the day before. [George had attended this annual training three times before - 30th July to 13th August 1911; 4th - 18th August 1912, and 27th July to 10th August 1913.]

A week later on Sunday, 2nd August, the History (see below) records that it "... was naturally a day of very real suspense and uncertainty." The following day orders were received from the War Office that training was suspended and all units were to return to their local bases. At 7.00 p.m. on the day the German Army crossed into Belgium - 4th August 1914 - the order was received to "Mobilise". On the outbreak of War George, in keeping with all Territorial Force soldiers, was given the option of volunteering for service overseas. The 6th Battalion's percentage of volunteers was 98%. His Service papers show that embodied service dated from 5th August 1914. [When his period of service ended on 25th July 1915, George immediately re-enlisted for a further four years.}

On the second day of mobilisation the men of the 6th Battalion from Bakewell, Staveley, Clay Cross and Wirksworth, plus the Buxton half of "C" company, including George, marched into Chesterfield, to be billeted at the Drill Hall and Chesterfield Central Schools. The Battalion Colours were lodged in St Mary's Church (The Crooked Spire) prior to its departure from Chesterfield. On the 10th August the Battalion marched out of Chesterfield, headed by Lieutenant-Colonel J.M. Clayton, bound for Derby, before moving by train to Luton and then on to Harpenden. The Battalion went on in November 1914 to Braintree, forming part of Notts. & Derby Brigade in the North Midland Division.

George's Medal Index Card and Service Papers give the date of his entry into France as the 25th February 1915. Soon after midnight on the 24th he left Braintree, with his Company, by train and sailed from Southampton on the 25th, 'A' and 'B' Companies on HMT Maidan, and George's 'C' Company on the King Edward. They landed at Le Havre about 4.00 a.m. on the 26th. The total strength of the Battalion was 28 Officers and 520 other ranks.

The following day the Battalion marched to the Gare Maritime and from there by train to Cassel and on the 28th marched to billets in Terdeghem. On the 4th March, along with other Battalions, they were inspected by General Sir Horace Smith-Dorrien, Commander of the 2nd Army, before travelling by bus to Bailleul, taking over billets at Oostroove Farm, near Ploegsteert, and attached to 11th Brigade.

On the 12th May 1915 the Division was retitled as the 46th (North Midland) Division and the brigades were also retitled, with George's 11th Brigade becoming the 139th (Sherwood Forester) Brigade. The Division then took part in engagements including the German liquid fire attack at Hooge (30th - 31st July 1915) and the attack at the Hohenzollern Redoubt (13th October 1915)

On the 23rd December 1915 the Division was ordered to proceed to Egypt, arriving via Marseilles by the 13th January 1916. After just a few days in Egypt, the move of the Division was countermanded and the units were returned to France, where it remained for the rest of the war. In 1916 the Battalion was engaged in the diversionary attack at Gommecourt on the first day of The Battle of the Somme (1st July 1916).

In 1917 the Brigade were in action during Operations on the Ancre (March); Occupation of the Gommecourt defences (4th March); The attack on Rettemoy Graben (12th March); The German retreat to the Hindenburg Line; The attack on Lievin (1st July) and The Battle of Hill 70 (15th -25th August). George did get one period of home leave, for two weeks, from the 4th to 18th March 1918. By this time George's brother, Frederick Arthur [see below], after serving with the Middlesex Regiment, had been Commissioned in England as a 2nd Lieutenant, and later Captain, in the same Battalion - 6th Sherwood Foresters - and they were serving together when George lost his life.

The Battalion History reported that on the day George was killed, 3rd October 1918, the 139th Brigade was to attack the Canal defences of the Hindenburg Line on a two Battalion frontage, with the 5th Battalion, The Sherwood Foresters, on the right, and the 8th on the left. The 6th Battalion was to form up in the rear of the 5th and 8th, moving in behind and mopping up. On arrival at the Red Line there was to be a twenty minute pause, after which the 6th was to pass through the leading battalions of the Brigade, the 8th Battalion arranging for parties to follow in rear mopping up in the village of Montbrehain. On arrival at the first objective, the 6th and 8th Battalions were to push out observation posts. Tanks were to co-operate and advance with the leading Battalions, accompanying the 6th Battalion in the final advance. Zero Hour was 6.05 a.m., on the 3rd October.

Soon after 1.00 a.m., on the 3rd October the 6th moved forward from east of Bellenglise to its assembly position near Joncourt, and before it lay its objective - the Beaurevoir - Fonsomme Line, beyond it Ramicourt, lying in a hollow between the high ground of the Beaurevoir-Fonsomme Line, and that upon which stood the village of Montbrehain. Of the Battalion Companies "D", "C" and "A" were in front in that order from right to left, and "B" Company was in support.

The C.O.'s report of the day stated: "All Battalions were in position by 5.15 a.m." The direction was well maintained for some distance, then the two leading Battalions seemed to lose direction slightly, passing through the northern and southern outskirts of Ramicourt. The 6th battalion then pushed through the village and mopped up. The advance met with strong opposition from the enemy who had many machine guns on the Beaurevoir-Fonsomme Line, and also machine guns in pits immediately in rear of the line. These nearly all fought well, but the majority were killed; some 400 of the enemy were rounded up in Ramicourt. Shortly after crossing the Beaurevoir - Fonsomme Line, Colonel Vann was killed.

Of the death of the Colonel another officer wrote that "Colonel Vann, as ever, taking a leading part in encouraging his men, was now in the foremost line, Private Chatterton, his runner, at his side, keen as ever for the success of the Battalion, he moved from section to section, now forcing the pace, now restraining the too impetuous, and whether by ill change or whether marked down as a leader, a bullet found its mark, clean through his head, and then he fell. So died a man than whom no braver lived, a leader who really led, a fighter who fought to the last ounce, an enthusiast who stirred the very soul of his men; by calling a clergyman, he knew no fear, seven times wounded, four times decorated, the last time only four days before he was killed, with the highest honour known to the British soldier - the Victoria Cross - he now met a soldier's death."

Ramicourt was entered and mopped up, and the French inhabitants rushed from their houses shaking hands with and embracing the men. The three Battalions of the 139th Brigade now again moved forward, the ground from Ramicourt sloping up to the line of railway and beyond that to Montbrehain, the Ramicour to Montbrehain road cutting the railway line at Ramicourt station, from where the sections moving by the road came under machine gun fire.

To continue from the Battalion Diary: "The hedge in the sunken road proved an obstacle and was strongly held by the enemy. Passing through Ramicourt the troops were engaged by heavy machine gun fire from the high ground, and the advance for a time fell back to the sunken road and hedges; but the Red Line was captured at due time, and on arriving here, and finding no trace on the left of the 2nd Australian Division, which had been held up further back, a defensive flank was formed by the 8th Sherwood Foresters along the line of the sunken road with posts pushed forward to the railway cutting.

The 6th Battalion now again moved forward making for its next objective, the Blue Line, our barrage lifting for this purpose. In Montbrehain the enemy offered at first a very stout resistance, especially about the Cemetery; but after several minor and isolated attacks the village was rushed and cleared, though it was found impossible to hold it by reason of heavy machine gun fire from some commanding ground where the enemy was still in great strength. The 5th and 8th Battalions, however, managed to push forward companies into the village and help to mop it up, where upon the German defenders surrendered freely, some thousand prisoners being captured. Nearly the whole of the Blue Line was occupied up to schedule time, but the high ground could not be held owing to the strength of the resistance offered and the open state of the country.

The advanced troops were now re-organised and told off to defensive positions, and parties attempted to push through to the Blue Dotted Line, but rifle, machine gun and field gun fire made this impossible, while the flanks of the 139th Brigade were throughout somewhat insecure.

During the operations one tank at least did very useful work, the remainder being knocked out to the west of Ramicourt, but they seriously affected the German morale.

The enemy counter-attacked at 12.30 p.m., causing our troops to be withdrawn from Montbrehain, which was re-occupied by German troops, but their further advance was stayed by our infantry and machine gun fire."

On the 3rd October 1918 the 139th Brigade killed at least 300 of the enemy and took from 1,400 to 1,500 prisoners. During the fighting the losses of the Battalion amounted to nearly 150 of all ranks killed, wounded and missing; Killed were Lieut. Colonel Bernard William Vann, Captain Frederick Wystan Hipkins, 2nd Lt. Charles Bimrose, 2/Lt. Cyril Ernest Wardle and 25 other ranks; wounded were Lieut. J.N. Wightman, 2nd Lieuts. J.R. Heselden, A. Jepson and 106 non-commissioned officers and men; while eight men were reported missing; then before the Sixth Battalion moved back on the morning of the 4th October to the neighbourhood of Lehautcourt to re-organise, 2nd Lieut. Percy Alexander Tompkinson was also killed. Two other Buxton men, serving with George also lost their lives - see Footnote 2 below.

Congratulatory messages of all kinds now began to flow in, the majority to the 46th Division as a whole, but some addressed specially to the 139th (The Sherwood Foresters) Brigade.

Brigadier General J. Harington, Commanding the 139th Brigade, sent the following message:-
"I wish to express my unbounded admiration for the magnificent fighting qualities shown by the Officers, Non-Commissioned Officers and men of the Battalions and the Trench Mortar Battery during the recent operations. They have had two operations to carry out - both of them difficult and one at short notice. In each case the Battalions have reached all their objectives, and made almost record captures of prisoners, machine guns and guns.

In the second operation the fighting was very severe and a difficult situation was overcome by the fine leadership of the Regimental Officers and the splendid spirit of the men.

I feel it a very great honour to have been placed in command of a Brigade composed of such fine fighting Battalions as the 5th, 6th, and 8th Battalions The Sherwood Foresters."

The Mayor of Buxton telegraphed Major General Boyd:-
'Two thousand boys and girls from Buxton Schools, Derbyshire, assembled in the Market Place today, saluted the Union Jack in honour of the glorious deeds of the 46th Division. They thank you for all you have done for them, send you their love and prey God to bless you all.'

Twenty-four Officers and men of the 1st/6th were killed in action on the 3rd October. Along with many of his comrades George is buried in Bellicourt Cemetery, near to where he fell. In total he had served for 8 years and 35 days with the Battalion, yet was to fall in action just 38 days before The Armistice.


Footnote 1:
Major Bernard William Vann, originally from the 8th Battalion. He was awarded
the Victoria Cross for his actions on 29th September 1918 at Bellenglise and
Lehaucourt, France, where he led his battalion across the Canal du Nord through
thick fog and under heavy fire. He secured his troops' advance by rushing up to
the firing line and leading the line forward himself. This was in addition to M.C. and
Bar, awarded earlier in the War.

He was killed in action, shot by a sniper at Ramicourt, France, on 3rd October 1918,
and is buried close to George Mycock. Before the War Bernard Vann had been a
regular member of the Derby County football team in the First Division.

                              

Footnote 2:
Two of George's Buxton comrades, Pt. 241643 George BENNETT and  Pt. 240507 James Francis GRICE, both of the 1/6th Battalion, were also killed in action on the 3rd October 1918 and are buried with him at Bellicourt.

'The Buxton Advertiser', quoted above, states that all five brothers served with the forces. Pt. 8600
Charles MYCOCK, (on left of the three photos) 2nd Battalion, Notts and Derbys Regiment. (Posted
to France the 22nd June 1915). He was a teacher employed in Hong Kong, when War was declared,
and returned home to enlist.

Clifford MYCOCK, pictured centre, enlisted in the Highland Light Infantry (Private 242426) before
transferring to the Royal Scots (Private 270673).

The youngest of the brothers, J65833 Thomas William Seighford MYCOCK, enlisted in the Royal
Navy, serving on board "H.M.S. Iron Duke" at The Battle of Jutland. He also took part in
The Zeebrugge Raid, on the 23rd April 1918, an attempt by the Royal Navy to neutralize the key
Belgian port of Bruges-Zeebrugge by sinking older British ships in the canal entrance to prevent
German ships from leaving port.

Younger brother Frederick Arthur MYCOCK enlisted in the Middlesex Regiment, Private 6027) and
was posted to France on the 17th March 1915.

In the photo on the right, Frederick is standing on the right end, along with other Buxton recruits, at
Buxton Railway Station, bound for London to enlist in the Middlesex Regiment. The story from his son,
Brian, (see below) is that they were all turned down by the local Battalion, 6th Sherwood Foresters,
as being too young so decided en masse to travel and try their luck in London.

Frederick was later Commissioned 2nd Lieutenant in the Sherwood Foresters (Notts and
Derby Regiment) on the 30th October 1917. (See: photo inset - right)

At the end of the War Lt Frederick Arthur MYCOCK had the honour of of being one of
two Officers chosen to receive the Regimental Colours in a ceremony at the Church of
St Mary and All Saints, Chesterfield. [The other Officer was Major Shea, of Chesterfield.]
'The Buxton Advertiser' of 14 December 1918 reported that: "... every available space
in the Church was occupied and numbers more could not get in."

N.B. After the War 2/Lt Frederick Arthur MYCOCK returned home and in 1920 married Olive A. Beardmore. Their son, Brian MYCOCK,
served with the Royal Marine Commandos in World War 2 and for many years has organised the Buxton R.B.L. Poppy Appeal, collecting
hundreds of thousands of pounds. He has in a great part been the inspiration for this website and without his help and advice it would never
have been completed.  [C L I C K Image on the right to Donate.]

Frederick's other son, and Brian's brother, Sgt. Gnr. 1078078 George Beardmore Mycock, 158 Sqdn., RAFVR, (photo right) was killed in
action on the 22nd June 1943. He is buried in Grave 25. B. 3., Bergen-op-Zoom War Cemetery, Belgium.

George's cousin, Spr. Joseph Edwin HARRISON, 15th Field Company, Royal Engineers, was killed in action on the14 November 1916.


Sources:
· "Men of the High Peak: A History of the 1/6th Battalion the Sherwood Foresters 1914-18" - Capt. W D Jamieson
   (ISBN-10: 0952964864) Miliquest  Publications (1 Oct 2004)
· 'The Buxton Advertiser' - 14  & 28 December 1918 and 3 January 1919
· I am grateful to Brian Mycock for the above photographs of his father, Frederick, his brother and his Uncles.

Link to CWGC Record
Pt George Mycock's Grave
Col B W Vann VC, MC & Bar
Col Vann's Grave at Bellicourt
Pt George Mycock
poppy
.... about Major Vann