Today we remembered Thurlby man George Inkley of the 5th Battalion Lincolnshire Regiment who was killed in action 101 years ago on the 30th April 1917.
George was born in Thurlby in the spring of 1885 to George Inkley, Property Owner and his wife Susannah Wade, both born in Thurlby.
George was the eldest of their 6 children although they had lost one child prior to 1911.
George Inkley, 1885, Thurlby
John Nicholas Inkley, 1886, Thurlby
Olive Myra Inkley, 1886, Thurlby
Arthur Wade Inkley, 1889, Thurlby
Elizabeth May Inkley, 1892, Thurlby
The family lived on the High Street and George started work as a Grocer’s apprentice but later worked as a Well Borer, working for J.E.Noble and son and he was still living with his parents in 1911 aged 26.
George and his two brothers all enlisted in the Army, George enlisting in 1915 at Bourne and joined the 5th Battalion, Lincolnshire Regiment.
Although George’s attestation papers and records cannot be found, believed to have been burned in the WW2 warehouse fire in the London Blitz, we know from newspaper articles that he first saw service abroad with his battalion in June 1916.
The 5th Battalion Lincolnshire regiment first landed in Harvre France on the last days of February 1915 and so it is most likely that when George enlisted in 1915 that he would have been trained with the 3rd/5th battalion, the 1st/5th (first line unit) and 2/5th (second line unit) were front line units and the 3rd battalion was the training battalion, getting the men trained before being posted to their front line units.
George arrived wit the 5th battalion in June 1916. At this time they were in trenches around the Gommecourt area, manning the trenches and also providing working parties for trenching and wiring in the lead up to what was to become the Battle of the Somme.
The 1st day of the battle of the Somme was somewhat a disaster for the 46th Division who wee tasked with attacking the northern part of the Gommecourt sector as a diversion to fetch enemy reserves away from the main attack near Albert.
The attack started with the others of the line at 5.30am but hardly moved forward and was stalled by 8.30am due to heavy machine gun and rifle fire.
Later that night, under cover of darkness 46th Division sent 5th Lincolnshire Regiment to try and make contact with a group of Sherwood Foresters who were believed to be holding a German trench; the only Sherwood Foresters in German trenches were all dead. As the 5th Lincolnshire Regiment reached the enemy wire, machine guns and rifles opened fire pinning them down and killing most of the officers and senior NCO’s.
A runner was sent forward with orders to withdraw; the attack on Gommecourt was over. The 46th Division suffered 2455 casualties in the failed attack.
This was George’s first introduction to a planned massed attack.
The Battalion stayed in the trenches in this sector until November when they were withdrawn from the line and spent most of the month training and carrying out practice attacks.
December saw a return to the front line in the same sector and by January the routine of swapping front line for reserve with the 4th Lincolns was in full flow around Fonquevilliers, their location for the beginning of the battle of the Somme.
February 1917 saw the first signs of an enemy retreat back to the Hindenburg defensive line thus shortening the front line and allowing a much stronger defensive position. This was completed in March with the 46th North Midland division keeping in touch with the enemy as they retired and pushing out patrols and mini attacks where they could until they retired from the front line on 22nd March.
We take up the story of George’s final month in the area around Loos.
April 1st 1917 –
Church parade at 11:30 AM attended by Joint Officer Commanding 46 division. Who Afterwards presented a Gallantry medal to Lance Corporal S Parr. Platoon training half hour each platoon. Weather cold and showery, snow in evening.
April 2nd 1917 –
Weather very cold, ground covered with snow. Battalion carried on for hours training in the morning. Lecture by Brigade joint commander 138 Brigade to all officers at 4:30 PM.
April 3rd, 4th 1917 –
April 5th 1917 –
Brigade route march via Flechin, Cuhem and Laires starting at 9:30am. A fine day, march completed 1.30pm
In the afternoon rounds were played for the company football cup given by BJC 138th Brigade. A beat C (3-1) and B beat D (2-0)
6th April 1917 –
Training in trench attack carried out by whole Battalion on > area from 9am to 3pm. Weather showery.
7th April 1917 –
training on ? area – weather fine. Advance in artillery formation through wood was practiced under general supervision of J.O.C, who insisted on a repetition and consequently left the battalion out until 4pm. Very valuable instruction but the fact that the Battalion was left without food until 4pm breakfasts being at 7.30am, and that the final match in the inter company was fixed for 2.30pm, rather affected the morale. The match was played at 4.30pm, when A beat B by 3 goals to 2.
8th April 1917 –
Easter Sunday – Very fine day. Church Parade at 10.30pm. Lecture by the adjutant to NCOs at 2.15pm.
9th April 1917 –
Weather fine but very cold. Divisional route march, battalion started at 10.25am. March via Auchy to Estree Blanche, after home via Cuhem and Flechin arrived at 3pm. Corps commander inspected the Division en route. C.Os conference at Brigade HQ 6pm.
10th April 1917 –
Weather bitterly cold, snow during night; frequent blizzards with bright intervals during the day. Al companies performed 3 hours training in artillery formation and extended order. Divisional tactical? Of Estree Blanche for COs , brigade staff. ‘?’ disinfector allotted to battalion from 7.30am onwards, it arrived at 8 without coal, there was ? delay. A certain amount of good was finally accomplished but ? the disinfector is allotted for a reasonable time, the whole process is a farce, and the time spent wasted: both clothing and blankets must all be disinfected under general conditions of care this is ?
11th April 1917 –
Weather very cold, ground covered with snow this morning. Battalion paraded at 8am and took part in Brigade scheme of open attack: corps commander, and J O C 46th Division were present. Operation over at 12.30pm, when dinners were eaten (the cookers having met Battalion at 12.30 at Cuhem) in pouring rain, which continued until billets were reached at
2.30pm, and for the remainder of the afternoon. Warning order was issued that Brigade would move to fresh billets tomorrow, near Bethune; this was subsequently cancelled.
12th April 1917 –
Weather still very cold, ground covered 2 to 3 inches with snow, but sharp thaw during the day. Only ½ hour platoon training performed, remainder of day spent in interior cleaning. All men bathed.
13th April 1917 –
Weather fine. Battalion marching in Brigade at 500 yard intervals, left Fervin-Palfart at 8am and marched via St Hilaire, Lillers and Busnes to Hollanderie and La Pierriere. Good billets but practically no training ground. Battalion arrived in new area about 1pm, being inspected en route by GOC 46th Division, who afterwards forwarded advise ? of the Battalion.
14th April 1917 –
Weather fine. Companies performed 3 hours training during the morning, with bayonet fighting, musketry, physical exercises, ?. lecture to officers at 6pm. Officers drill under brigade? at 2.30pm.
15th April 1917 –
Weather very wet all day. Church parade cancelled. ½ hour platoon training only performed following order to move sent day received.
16th April 1917 –
Battalion marching in Brigade at 500 yard intervals, left Battalion starting point at 10.10am, and marched via L’Ecleme and Chocques to Vendin and Oblinehem (Near Bethune) arriving at 1 pm. Fairly good billets but men split up into small parties. Weather bright and fine.
17th April 1917 –
3 hours training carried out during morning in spite of bad weather. In afternoon each company carried out a small outpost tactical scheme with officers and NCOs. In addition a CMS ? ? staff took a class of NCOs – 2 from each platoon. Weather cold and showery. CO 2nd in command of brigade inspected ? training grounds.
18th April 1917 –
A warning order was issued at 9pm last night and definitive orders at 3am, for the Battalion to move at 1pm to take over, proceeding via Bethune, Noeux Les Mines, Bully Grenay to Brigade HQ at Meroc. Portion of Battalion is in old German front and support lines. HQ in old British front line opposite Cite St Pierre, North West of Lens. Battalion relieved 8th Royal West Surrey(Queen’s), relief being completed about 2am on the 19th.
19th April 1917 –
CO and Company commanders reconnoitred during the day positions to be taken over at night in front line from 9Th East Surrey Regiment. Relief began at 9pm, and was completed by 2.15am, D and B companies in front line. With three platoons in posts and 1 in support, and A and C companies in reserve in cellars in Cite St Pierre. In front line parts area in places in trenches and others in houses, all lately vacated by the enemy who hold a line approximately 400 yards away. Weather fortunately fair, but cold.
20th April 1917 –
Very heavy shelling of both front line companies and also Battalion HQ during the day, and specifically from 10pm to midnight. Battalion HQ is an abandoned former Regimental HQ at crossroads and is especially marked. Gas Alert ordered.
21st April 1917 –
Weather fine. Started shelling ? afterwards both by day and night. A few ?
22nd April 1917 –
Weather and other conditions as yesterday. Orders received that the attack on Hill 65 would take place by Brigade on our right (139th) at 4.45 tomorrow and that co-operation by patrols from this Battalion was required. Arrangements made to push forward the line if the attack succeeds.
23rd April 1917 –
At 4.45 three patrols (with the bombing portion of a platoon) supported by the remainder of the platoon, were pushed forward but all were met by heavy machine gun and rifle fire? ? our trenches in strong points before reaching their objectives. These patrols were found by A and C companies which relieved B and D companies last night. Two Patrols of C company was cut off by heavy fire and took refuge till dusk in a hole 50 yards from our line, and then returned ?
A company patrols returned without casualties, C company two wounded only. The Battalion was relieved at night by the 1/4th Lincoln Regiment, relief being completed at 1.30am and proceeded to Brigade reserve in cellars in Cite St Pierre.
24th April 1917 –
Sudden orders received at 9am that Battalion would relieve 1/5th South Staffords on the sector on immediate right at night. Officers went to reconnoitre as usual. Posted 1 company as a outpost company, 3 platoons in posts and 1 in support in Cite St Theodore North West of Lens. One company in support in Crimson trench and Crook Redoubt, and 2 companies in Lievin (with Battalion HQ) in reserve. Relief completed at 2.15am.
25th April 1917 –
Weather bright and fine. A comparatively quiet day, some shelling on support line and in Lievin, but much less than usual. Quiet night.
26th April 1917 –
Quiet day, weather fine. battalion was relieved in front and support trenches by 2 companies of the 4th Lincolnshire Regiment. The whole battalion remaining in cellars in Lievin for the night. Captain R E Madge and 2nd Lieut W E Brown returned.
29th April 1917 –
Fine weather continues. Hostile shelling of the area at intervals, but not very heavy. In evening the Battalion relieved the 4th Lincolns. B Company as ? Company in Cite St Theodore, D company to support in Crook redoubt, Crimson and Cowden trenches, A & C companies in reserve with battalion HQ in Cite St Pierre. During the night patrols were posted forward and posts ? up to junction of railways E of Cite St Theodore, the whole of which is now occupied and commanded by us.
30th April 1917 –
Quiet night on our immediate front but very heavy bombardment some distance south of us. Area around Battalion HQ heavily shelled between 11am and 12 noon. During day shelling all over area. J.O.C 46th Division visited Battalion HQ. Gas Alert on. Work on improving fire steps and defence of Crook and Crimson continued.
George Inkley was killed in action on the 30th April 1917.
Grantham Journal Saturday 12the May 1917
THE SAD NEWS came through from a B.E.F. Chaplain on Monday that Pte George Inkley was killed in action on the 2nd May and that along with his brave comrades who fell at the same time he was bored within our lines. Pte Geo. Inkley was the eldest of three brothers, all now in his Majesty’s Army. He joined the Lincolnshire Regiment nearly two years ago and had been abroad since June 1916. In disposition he was a quiet, studious lad and much esteemed. Previous to enlistment he was in the employ of Messrs J E Noble and Son, boring contractors, Thurlby. The greatest sympathy is felt with his parents, Mr and Mrs George Inkley of High Street. Two of his cousins have already “gone west” in the great conflict, Viz., Lance Corps E J Garwood and Signaller John Wade, wireless operator on one of H.M. ships, sunk during April. He was the last man to leave his ship and was seen to jump off the rigging into the sea as the vessel took the final plunge.
Commonwealth War Graves Commission:
In memory of Private G Inkley, 241699, 1st/5th Battalion, Lincolnshire Regiment who died on 30 April 1917
Remembered with honour, Maroc British Cemetery, Grenay.
George is also commemorate on the Roll of Honour in St Firmin’s church, Thurlby.
We Will Remember Them.