Private George PROCTOR


Regiment/Service:
Sherwood Foresters
(Notts and Derby Regiment)
Unit:
4th Battalion on CWGC Records
but most probably 11th Battalion
(see below)
Service Number:
17965
Date of Death:
4 April 1917 (Died of Wounds)
Age:
32
Cemetery / Memorial:
Grave Reference:
North-west of Church.


Personal History:

George was born in Fairfield, Buxton in the June quarter 1884 and registered as George HYDE, the son of Sarah Ann Hyde (Domestic Servant). In 1891 (Census RG 12/2779) he was living with his mother and older sister, Edith, at the home of his mother's cousin, Francis Proctor. (Sarah Anne's mother, Hannah Proctor married Thomas Hyde in 1855.) There had been an older brother, Frederick, who died in 1877, when only a few months old.
By 1901 (Census RG 13/3269) George was living with another relative - his uncle, Francis Proctor, at Alma Place, Fairfield, Buxton, employed as a "Wheelwright". [The Census records his surname as 'Proctor'.] There is, however, no obvious record of his mother, Sarah, although from the 1911 Census (RG 14/21234) - when she was lodging at 5 Heaton Place, Fairfield, employed as a 'Carpet Maker' - it is evident that George had gained another brother, Richard, born in 1898. However, this Census has no obvious record of George, under either surname. However, the 'Buxton Advertiser' records his father living at 16 New High Street, Buxton.

N.B. In 1901 George's sister, Edith, was also living under the surname "Proctor", working as a "Servant" in Fairfield. Younger brother, Richard, never changed his name, and married, had a family and died as a 'Hyde'. This is strange as on his Birth Certificate Sarah Anne records her name as 'Proctor'! [See: Footnote below]

Military History:
George enlisted at Buxton into the Notts and Derby Regiment and although his Service Papers are lost, his Medal Index Card shows that he entered France on the 27th August 1915, which is consistent with the 11th Battalion landing in France and SDGW also confirms this was George's Battalion, not the 4th Battalion as recorded by the CWGC.

The 11th (Service) Battalion was formed at Derby in September 1914 as part of K3 (Kitchener's Third New Army) and became part of the 70th Brigade in the 23rd Division. It moved to Stanhope Lines at Aldershot in December 1914 and then to Shorncliffe in February 1915 to Bordon in May. As stated above, the Battalion landed at Boulogne on the 27th August 1915 and concentrated near Tilques. [Conversely, the 4th Battalion was the Extra Reserve Battalion and remained in the UK throughout the war as part of the Tyne Garrison on the East Coast defences based in Sunderland.]

George's Division was attached to III Corps on the 5th September 1915 and moved to the Merris-Vieux Berquin area, where trench familiarisation began. Just 9 days later, on the14th, they took over a front line sector between Ferme Grande Flamengrie to the Armentieres-Wez Macquart road, where they remained for about five months, not being relieved until the end January / early February 1916.

A month later, on the 3rd March 1916 orders were received to relieve the French in the Carency sector. The front to be held was between the Boyau de l'Ersatz and the Souchez River. This location included the posts on the Notre Dame de Lorette Hill, a very exposed position, subject to intense shelling.

The 11th Battalion War Diary for Monday, the 6th March 1916 reads:

"IN TRENCHES.
The Battalion took over the trenches from the 8th Battn K.O.Y.L.I.
17962 Lance Corpl. Sheasby A.W. &
1765 Pte. Proctor G. were wounded."

[It was quite unusual for 'Other Ranks' to be named in War Diaries.]

In reporting George's death on the 14th April 1917, 'The Buxton Advertiser' wrote the following:

"Fairfield residents will well recollect the bright and cheery form of George Proctor, who has, after months of suffering from a severe wound in the abdomen, gone to his rest. He was over here at Christmastide, but the wound did not heal in spite of every attention at several Military Hospitals.

The son of Mr Proctor of 16 New High Street, the deceased soldier joined up early on and has served in the Ambulance Corps at the front. His obtained his fatal wound whilst nobly carrying a wounded soldier from "No Man's Land", which act is not only of meritorious character but worthy to be handed down in the historic annals of the doughty deed of our gallant men.

The funeral was at St. Peter's, Fairfield, on Monday, when the Rev. E. L. Harkness, M.A., Vicar, officiated. A detachment of R.E.s attended and fired a volley over the grave, whilst a bugler sounded the Last Post."

There is no indication that he served with the RAMC but it is possible that George was a battalion Stretcher Bearer which may be why it's noted that he 'served' with the Ambulance Corps. Many men brought wounded men in and often under fire most of these deeds went un-noticed or it was seen that these men were just doing their job.

On his return to England, or having left hospital, George would most likely have been transferred to the 4th Battalion, either prior to being posted back to original Unit (11th Battalion) or another Battalion or being discharged. This type of transfer appears quite often on service papers when a man returns to England due to wounds etc. As a result George was in fact 'serving' with them when he actually died.


Footnote:
· George's younger brother, Pt 28168 Richard HYDE - 24th Manchester Regt (Oldham Pals) was discharged on the 23rd August 1917 suffering
  from Neurasthenia ('shell shock')

Sources:
· 'The Buxton Advertiser' - 14 April 1917
· I am grateful to Martin McNeela for the War Diary extract and his interpretation of George's movement between Battalions.

Link to CWGC Record
George Proctor's Grave
Private George Proctor
poppy