Private George HALLOWS

Cheshire Regiment
11th Battalion
Service Number:
(Formerly: 4260)
Date of Death:
20 April 1918 - Killed in Action
Cemetery / Memorial:
Memorial Reference:
Panel 62.

Personal History:

George was born in the September quarter 1892 at 2 Grin Row,
Burbage, Buxton, the son of John William (Railway Platelayer)
and Mary (née Goodwin) Hallows (1891 Census RG 12/2779).
He had an older brother, William Arthur, and three younger
brothers and sisters, Sydney, Mary Ann and Fred. In 1901
(Census RG 13/3271) the family were still at the same address.
In 1911 (Census RG 14/21238) 18 year old George was still at the family home, working as a "Limestone Quarry
(Rockman)". By that time he had two more younger brothers, Ernest and Albert. In the June quarter 1913 George
married Gertrude Daisy Prince and they lived at 6 Oddfellows Cottages, Market Street, Buxton. 

Military History:
George enlisted at Macclesfield, Cheshire. His Service papers have not survived but his Medal Index Card indicates that he was posted to France after 1915, as he was not eligible for the 1915 Star Medal. His original Service Number, 4260, suggest an enlistment date in late 1915. Possibly he originally joined the 3rd or 4th Battalion, transferring to the 11th and posted to France in September 1916. (By comparison with similar Service numbers.)

The 11th (Service) Battalion of the Cheshire regiment had formed at Chester on 17th September 1914 as part of K3 (Kitchener's Third New Army) and attached to 75th Brigade, 25th Division. It moved to Codford St Mary and by November 1914 was in billets in Bournemouth. Around the time George enlisted the Battalion had moved to Aldershot, in May 1915. On the 26th September 1915 the Battalion landed in France, so it would seem that George joined later as a replacement or reinforcement.

At the start of the Battle of The Somme, the 75th Brigade was involved in The Battle of Albert, (1st - 13th July 1916). The Brigade received orders on the 2nd July to move to Martinsart, and came under orders of 32nd Division. On the 3rd July, the 75th Brigade made a virtually unsupported and inevitably costly and unsuccessful attack in one of the awful, piecemeal, efforts to hold on to the minor gains made in the Thiepval area on the 1st July.

The 11th Cheshires lost 5 Officers and 86 other ranks on the 3rd July 1916 and it could be that George was one of the replacements sent to reinforce the Battalion after the Battle. During 1917 George's Battalion were involved in The Battle of Messines, 7th - 14th June, The Third Battle of Ypres, 31st July - 10th November, and The Battle of Pilckem Ridge, 31st July - 2nd August. In addition they were found fighting for Mouquet Farm during the Battle of Pozieres, 23rd July - 3rd September and at The Battle of the Ancre Heights, including the Capture of Stuff Redoubt, 1st October to11th November.

The following year their first engagement was The Battle of St Quentin, 21st - 23rd March 1918, starting on the first day of the German Spring Offensive ('Kaiserschlacht'). On the 21st March, the German army had launched a massive assault on the British troops holding positions in the heart of the Somme battlefield. The Battles of the Lys began on the 9th April 1918 and George would have fought at The Battle of Messines, 10th - 11th April, closely followed by The Battle of Bailleul, 13th - 16th April. 

This was a time of chaos brought about by the overwhelming onslaught of the German Army. However, the Regimental History notes that the Cheshires "fought well as always, but in the bewildering succession of withdrawals, regimental officers and men lost their bearings and though willing and ready to fight, and by no means feeling beaten or disheartened, did not know where best to go."  Fighting continued throughout the 14th, and the following day the high ground and the town of Bailleul itself fell to the Germans.

At 5.15 a.m. on the 10th April, the German Army launched the expected attack with an overwhelming force of numbers (some 5 to 1). The 11th Cheshires were in the front line at Ploegsteert, a village not far from Ypres and near the border with France.

By 5.50 a.m. the Battalion was under severe pressure on its right flank with the advancing Germans already moving to their rear. Orders were given to fall back west of Ploegsteert. About half the Battalion was able to withdraw, but two companies were surrounded and had no alterative but to surrender. By 8.00 a.m. the Germans could be seen in the village. 

The remnants of the 11th Cheshires had a comparatively quiet day on the 11th but, on the 12th, the British positions again came under strong pressure and further withdrawals were ordered. By 7.00 p.m. the Battalion was at Pont d'Achelles, Nieppe, France. It was ordered to dig-in on a line towards Romarin. The men started to dig, but discovered the enemy was already in Romarin. The Cheshires withdrew a further 200 yards before digging-in.

The Division was by now thoroughly shattered and exhausted by continuous fighting for five days, and fragmented by heavy losses. The division had been heavily involved in the German attacks on the Lys, and on the night of 13/14, had been heavily attacked around Neuve Eglise. The 75th Brigade (which included the 11th Cheshires) wasn't relieved until the night of the 14th/15th. At the end of this Battle the Brigade withdrew through Boeschepe but were ordered up to the area south of Mont Noir in support of 34th Division.

Fighting continued until the 16th, when there was a lull for several days. The day George was killed, the 20th April, was described in the Battalion War Diary as being quiet and the men were in camp on the road between Mont-des-Cats and Godersvelde

Despite this apparent inactivity, George was one of 51 men of his 11th Battalion killed in action on the 20th April 1918. He has no known grave and with 33 of his comrades is commemorated on The Tyne Cot Memorial.

· I am grateful to Judy Rieck for the photo of George's name on the Tyne Cot Memorial
· I am also grateful to John Hartley in pointing me to the notes on the Battle of Lys on his website, "Stockport Soldiers"

Commemorated on:

Link to CWGC Record
The Tyne Cot Memorial
Pt Hallow's name on the Memorial
George's parents
George's Parents