Sapper George WARRINGTON


Regiment/Service:
Royal Engineers
Unit:
96th Light Railway Operating Company
Service Number:
322911
Date of Death:
30 December 1917 - Died at sea 
Age:
32
Cemetery / Memorial:


Personal History:

George was born in the June quarter 1885, the eldest son of Thomas and Mary Emily (née Ridd) Warrington (widowed June quarter 1891) of England Field, Grin Row, Burbage, Buxton. (1891 Census RG 12/2779). He had 2 younger brothers, Thomas William and Fred. In 1901 he was employed as a "Joiner's Assistant" (Census RG 13/3271) and was living at 1 Chapel Row, Burbage.

In the September quarter 1907 George married Ann
Longden, of Peak Dale, Buxton, and the 1911 Census
(RG 14/21238) shows them living at 21 Ladmanlow,
Burbage, with one child, 3 year old Thomas Edwin.
Another son, George William, who his father never
saw, was born in the September quarter 1917.
In the September quarter 1922 Ann re-married Frank Garner. Ann died on 17th December 1948,
aged 63, and is buried in the Churchyard of Holy Trinity Church, Peak Dale, along with her son,
George, who was killed in Dove Holes Tunnel, aged 16. George Warrington is commemorated
on her grave stone.

Military History:
George enlisted in the Royal Engineers at Lingdale, Yorkshire. His Medal Index Card indicates that he entered the War after 1915 and unfortunately his Service Papers have not survived. Railway Operating Companies were set up to run the trains, with the tracks being laid by Royal Engineers Railway Construction Companies. In total they consisted of about 200 men, with few Officers.

The men called up around this time were railwaymen in civilian life who had volunteered in late 1915 under the Derby Scheme and had their call up heavily deferred due to their Reserved Occupation, being finally called up in October 1917. However, quite how John fitted this general designation is not clear, unless in some administrative capacity.

The 96th Light Railway Operating Company was formed and trained at Longmoor Camp,
Hampshire, and embarked for Egypt on the 2nd December 1917 aboard HMT Osmanieh.
(The Osmanieh was built in 1906 for the Royal Mail Steam Packet Co by Swan-Hunter.)

The liner Osmanieh, commanded by Lieutenant Commander David R. Mason, was taken over
for service as a fleet auxiliary during the First World War. She was carrying troops and medical
staff to Alexandria when, at 10.30 a.m. on Monday, 31st December, 1917, she struck a mine
laid by UC 34 under the command of Oberleutnant zue See Horst Obermuller at the entrance
to Alexandria harbour. She sank very quickly taking with her Lieutenant Commander D.R. Mason,
2 other officers. 21 of its crew, 1 military officer, 166 other ranks and 8 nurses.

Whilst a number of the casualties were recovered and subsequently buried, Francis' body was
not and he is now commemorated on The Chatby Memorial.


Footnotes:
· Sapper Frank FURNESS, of the 96th Light Railway Operating Company, also died and is buried in Kantara
  War Memorial Cemetery.

· Sapper John William FOX, of the same Company as George ,survived the sinking of the Osmanieh but was
  killed on 13th November 1918 and is buried in Kantara War Cemetery, Egypt.

· Sapper Francis John BOWDER, of the same Company, was killed on board the Aragon and is commemorated
  on The Chatby Memorial

· The Medals of Lt. Com. David R. Mason - 1914-15 Star; British War and Victory Medals, with M.I.D. oak leaf
   were sold at auction on 28 March 2002 for £1,150.

Sources:
· I am grateful to Jonty Wild for the photo of George's name on the Chatby Memorial

· A detailed report regarding the loss of the Osmanieh, from which the following information is extracted.
Statement of Sub. Lieut. H.S. Barnes: ‘...At about 10:20a.m. I received the pilot on board. Following him
up on to the bridge I questioned the pilot as to the ship docking. The order “slow ahead” had just been
given when the explosion occurred.

The Captain [Lt.-Cdr. Mason] and myself standing together were blown through the roof of the wheel house
and back on to the deck. He immediately gave orders “stop engines” telling me to clear away the boats...’

Statement of Lieut. Col. P.R.C. Groves, D.S.O.: ‘When the explosion occurred I was standing looking over the rail on the promenade deck, on the port side, close to the steps leading up to the bridge. I immediately ran up these steps on to the bridge and asked the Captain [Lt.-Cdr. Mason] how much time we had. He replied “A few minutes”. I said “Is the order to be, into the water?” He said “yes”...The Captain pointed out to me that the ship was going down by the bow and also told me to get everyone forward. He was apparently thinking of the boilers exploding...Finally, when the boat was level with the water and the forward well deck was nearly full, I turned to the Captain and said “what about it now”. He said “yes, we must be off”. He then ran to the port side of the bridge whilst I went to the starboard...’

The court of enquiry stated the following in their summing up of the incident: ‘We consider the loss was occasioned by striking a mine or mines. For this no blame is attributable to the Captain or officers of the Osmanieh, and their conduct throughout, and that of the crew, with a few exceptions was marked by courage and devotion to duty.’

Commemorated on:
George is also commemorated on his wife and son's grave in the Churchyard of
  Holy Trinity Church, Peak Dale [See above]
Link to CWGC Record
The Chatby Memorial
HMT Osmanieh
'The Times' reported the loss the following day:
Spr. Warrington's name on the Memorial
George's dedication on his mother's grave
poppy
Spr. George Warrington