Biography of Private George Jervis Dudley (9627)
2nd Battalion Yorkshire Regiment
Died 13th March 1915
- Name: George Jervis M Dudley
- Date of birth: 1885
- Place of Birth: Billingborough, Lincolnshire, England
- Date of Birth Registration: April – June 1885
- Place of Birth Registration: Bourne, Lincolnshire, England
- Name: George Dudley
- DOB: 1846
- Place of Birth: Crowland, Lincolnshire, England
- Occupation: Butcher
- Name: Mary Ann Maples
- DOB: 1854
- Place Of Birth: Billingborough, Lincolnshire, England
- Marriage: 1876 Sleaford District
Siblings: (Name), (DOB), (POB)
- Mary Elizabeth Dudley, 1877, Sutton St Edmonds
- Fanny Jane Dudley, 1878, Billingborough
- John Thomas Dudley, 1880, Billingborough
- John William Dudley, 1882, Billingborough
- George Jervis M Dudley, 1885, Billingborough
- Charles Edward Dudley, 1887, Billingborough
- Rosanna Dudley, 1889, Billingborough
- Lucy Edith Dudley, 1891, Billingborough
- Harriett Ellen Dudley, 1895, Billingborough
- Alfred Ernest Dudley, 1896, Billingborough
- 1891: George is living with his parents at 70 High Street, Billingborough, Lincolnshire
- 1901: George is living with the Pollard family in Walcot, Lincolnshire.
- 1911: George is living with his regiment the 1st Yorkshire in Africa. The census gives him an age of 25 and he is listed as a private.
- None found
- No marriage for George has been found and we can assume that he never had the opportunity to marry.
- Grantham Journal Saturday 30th January 1915
A LETTER FROM THE TRENCHES – Private George Dudley, of the York and Lancaster Regiment, who has been at the front for some time, has written home to his parents at Billingborough. In his letter he says: I hope you are having better weather than we are. It rains practically every day; I dont know whether it is the big guns that brings it down or not; but it is most persistent. Our trenches are up to the knees in water. I haven’t been very wet up to the present; only my feet. We have opportunities however, for getting our boots and socks dry after we get out of the trenches, for we go to a house close by. You would be surprised to see all the beautiful houses that have gone to rack and ruin. It’s a shame! I don’t know what the poor people will think when they come back again to see their places in this state. I think you in England are very lucky not to have to go through what we are going through here. Nearly all last year’s crops have still to be got and what corn was gathered near the trenches is taken for bedding for the troops. No wonder bread is so dear. I always think about home when I lay my head down on a sheaf of wheat. The cattle in the fields make good targets for the Germans. You can hear the poor things call out when they are hit. I don’t think this terrible war will go on much longer. The Germans are getting beat all along the line and I hope we shall not be long before we are in Berlin. Just now, however, we are having a quiet time.” Pte Dudley has sent home, for safe custody, Princess Mary’s gifts, which reached him at Christmas. These are now on view in the shop window of Pte. Dudley’s parents in High Street.
- Grantham Journal Saturday 27th March 1915
KILLED IN ACTION – News reached Billingborough on Sunday, of the death of Lance-Corporal George Dudley, of the 2nd Yorkshire Regiment, a brief message being sent to the deceased’s parents by a comrade. On Tuesday, a further communication was received by Mrs. Dudley from Sergeant of his platoon. In it he wrote: “No doubt by this time, you are aware of your son’s death. Previous to the fighting at Neuve Chapelle, he asked me to write to you if anything happened. He fell with many others in the attack. However, let it console you to know that he died as he would have wished – a hero’s death. I am enclosing two photos found in his pocket (one of his youngest sister, to whom he was very much attached). Please accept my sympathy in your sad bereavement. I feel his death very much, as he was a personal friend of mine, very sociable and willing and not afraid of any danger, whatever the cost. Tell your daughter to bear up, as she had a brother to be proud of. Remember the motto: ‘He died that we might live.’ ” Deceased, who was unmarried and was thirty years of age, was well known in Billingborough, where he worked with a building firm. He was originally attached to the Scottish Borderers, and was for several years, with that regiment in Egypt. At the outbreak of hostilities, he was transferred to the 2nd Yorkshire Regiment and had received his stripe since being in the trenches. Sincere sympathy is expressed for the deceased’s parents who not many months ago, mourned the loss of another son, who although succumbing to appendicitis, had his health impaired in the South African war; while a third boy, some years ago, was drowned (with an uncle) while bathing.
- None found
Soldier’s Died In The Great War
- These records show that Private George Dudley, 9627, 2nd Bn Yorkshire Hussars Regiment (Alexandra, Princes of Wales’ Own) was killed in action on 13th March 1915 in the Western European Theatre in France and Flanders.
Effects Left To
- Mother Mary Ann
- The British Medal
- The Victory Medal
- The 14 Star
© Picture taken by South Lincolnshire War Memorials
© Picture taken by South Lincolnshire War Memorials
Military Service Timeline
In the 1891 census we find 6 year old George living with his parents at 70 High Street. His father George is a Butcher and Baker.
In 1893 the family suffered a sad loss when son John aged 12, and his uncle Richard Maples were drowned in Swaton Brick pits whilst bathing.
In 1901 George Dudley (Father) was still in the high street but the census gives the house number as 63, he was still working as a Butcher but by now young George had moved out of the family home and was living with the Pollard family in Walcot. During this time George’s elder brother James William was also away from home serving in the King’s Royal Rifles and officiating as valet to Major-general Drummond. He saw short service in the South African War and also in expeditions in Somaliland against the Mad Mullah.
It may have been his brother’s action and career that prompted George to also sign up with the British Army as in 1911 he can be seen serving with the 1st Yorkshire Regiment in Khartoum, Sudan. George’s service number of 9627 would indicate between March 1910 and June 1911, most likely late in 1910.
George should have been in the army in the lead up to the war as regular service would be for 7 years, but it is possible that at the start of the war he could have been on Army Reserve as he was eventually mobilised with the 2nd Battalion, Yorkshire Regiment. His previous service being with the 1st Battalion Yorkshire Regiment.
One set of records shows that he enlisted for the war in Nottingham.
Unfortunately along with 60% of all Army service records George’s full service record has not been found and we assume it was destroyed in the warehouse fire in the Blitz in London in WW2. The following has been pieced together from various other remaining sources.
In August 1914 the second battalion had been in Guernsey but were called back to England and landed at Southampton on the 28th August 1914, forming part of the 21st Brigade of the 7th Division.
The first trainload embarked on the SS Caledonian, leaving Southampton Docks at 4am, the second trainload embarked onto the SS Victorian (both Leyland Line ships), leaving at 5am on the Tuesday morning 24 hours later after spending the day loading guns.
On the 6th October the Caledonian made Zeebrugge via Dover by 4am with the Victorian eventually arriving at 9pm. The first part of the Battalion went into billets at Assebrouck near Bruges.
The next day A&B Companies remained in Billets although A company posted 1/2 company into outpost duty facing south with the Belgians furnishing the main line of outposts. C&D Companies eventually arriving at Assebrouck about 9pm.
Over the next seven days the Battalion was on the move and marched through De Haan, Clemskerke, Beernam, Coulscamp and Roulers. On the 14th March the Battalion were employed as the advanced guard for the division on the march from Roulers to Ypres, arriving and being billeted in Ypres at 12 noon.
The Battalion diary has the following entries about the Battalion’s first encounter with the enemy in this war, George of course being a seasoned soldier before. This shows George’s first action of this war, their first trenches and also the first artillery attack that they were subjected to.
15th October 1914
Left Ypres at 11.30am and proceeded to a railway halt about 1 1/2 miles east of Ypres. The Brigade took up a defensive position, the Battalion was in reserve at the halt. The defensive line was not attacked and nothing of importance happened.
16th October 1914
Moved out of billets at 4am with a view to attacking the enemy who were supposed to have taken up a line about 3 miles to the east.. The Battalion was employed as advanced guard to the Brigade and reached their objective, the village of Gheluvelt, with little opposition. Extended a position about 1 mile east of the town. A Company slightly engaged, and captured or killed eight German Hussars, B Company also accounted for a few patrols, No casualties in the Battalion.
17th October 1914
Enemy shelled the village the Battalion was billeted in and seemed to devote a good deal of attention to Battalion Headquarters. Nobody was hurt. After remained in trenches all day and improved same to secure against counter attack. Sniping went on all day but no casualties.
18th October 1914
Relieved from entrenchments at about 11am, proceeded to village of Becelaere and became reserve to the Brigade. Our patrols were hotly fired o.
19th October 1914
At 7am received preliminary attack orders for town of Menin. Owing to a German Division coming up on our left these were cancelled and we moved back to our old trenches at Xroads 9 KILO MENIN ROAD. Spent the night digging ourselves in.
20th October 1914
Tremendous artillery duel commenced in the morning and shells were bursting all around us, but without doing any harm. On our immediate left a heavy infantry fight took place at about 5pm. We improved our trenches all day. Machine guns got a good target from X roads at bout 5pm and must have done considerable damage to enemy. During the night the enemy attempted to tamper with obstacles in front of our line and we killed and wounded several. Heavy night attack on our troops on immediate left but the Battalion was only slightly engaged. Lieut B Walmsley Killed.
21st October 1914
Artillery duel continued soon after daybreak increasing in pace towards midday. Enemy made a successful attack on the left flanks of the Yorkshire battalion. A few casualties caused by shellburst.
22nd October 1914
Continued artillery duel – Columns of German Infantry seen coming over west line to our left front. Very effective firing done on enemy’s column by our artillery and machine guns. Reported that enemy had broken through on our left flank A Company Yorkshire Regiment sent to pull up gap on D Company’s left. The machine Gun Officer (Lieut Ledgard, lost his life doing good work. Captain C.G. Jeffery Mortally wounded. Lieut and adjutant C G Forsyth wounded in the shoulder. Lieut W H Bell also wounded. Suffered a few casualties from sniping and shrapnel.
Over the next 5 days the Battalion held the same positions and the artillery duel continued with heavy casualties and damage was taken by the British line from the German use of Heavy Explosive shells and not shrapnel.
The Battalion and the full Brigade would eventually be relieved from the front line on the 27th by the 1st Brigade
The Battalion were in the same sector for the rest of October and Part of November before moving to Baillieul and then on to Ploegsteert. The Battalion took on reinforcements in mid November and these totalled 5 officers and 513 men, making the Battalion back up to the strength of 94 officers and 939 other ranks, which shows the attrition rate of the first trench fighting that the Battalion had undertaken.
We again go to the Battalion Diaries for George’s first Christmas in the trenches where we find the Battalion in trenches around Nieppe between Armentieres and Ploegsteert against the French Belgian border.
24th December 1914
The battalion was relieved from the trenches by the 2nd Bedford Regiment this afternoon and came back to Sailly (Sailly-sur-Lys) where we occupied Divisional reserve billets. The march from the trenches to these billets is a long one for men with wet feet and boots which are rotting owing to their being continually in water and liquid clay.
25th December 1914
A fatigue party of 1 officer and 100 other ranks was furnished, and the remainder of the Battalion enjoyed the whole day as a holiday.
26th December 1914
The Battalion furnished 2 fatigue parties of 3 officers and 100 men each, also 1 officer and 35 other ranks for work with the Royal Engineers.
27th December 1914
We relieved the 2nd Bedford Regiment from the trenches and found everything swimming in water. Luckily there was no need to take cover as the Germans were not firing.
28th December 1914
We had a very hard job to cope with the water which is flooding everything. Then worked at bailing out and digging soak pits but did not do much good. Luckily we had not to think of taking cover as again there was no firing.
29th December 1914
same as yesterday 28th December 1914.
30th December 1914
The water has increased and in places it is above the knees. The Germans must be as bad as us. They were bailing water out of their trenches all day. The 2nd Bedford Regiment relieved us in the afternoon. We reached our billets at Sailly about 8.30pm
31st December 1914
The Battalion was employed in cleaning up generally and also washing underclothing.
1st January 1915
The only things to note in February were the use of British aircraft to carry out reconnaissance of the enemy trenches and some times the billets being shelled when the Battalion were in reserve.
We next move to mid March 1915 where the Battalion are just south of Fleurbaix. The Battalion diary describes the days leading up to George’s death.
5th March 1915
The Battalion was employed in digging reserve trenches during the night.
6th March 1915
Companies paraded under their respective commanders.
7th March 1915
The Battalion moved into billets at Leventie in the afternoon.
8th March 1915
Companies paraded under their respective commanders
9th March 1915
Ordinary parade in the morning. Orders received for the attack tomorrow and a conference of company officers was held. Those officers available visited as much of the ground as possible.
10th March 1915
At 2.0pm we advanced and occupied enemy’s trenches. Here we were delayed a long time but finally advanced again towards Min du Pietre, our left working up the German trench of which we were astride, and the three companies advancing in the open. Fortunately only a few casualties occurred. At dusk we were obliged to dig in owing to two strong redoubts of the enemy barring our way. We were in touch with the 2nd Royal Scotts Fusiliers on our right and the 2nd Wiltshires on our left. Three companies were well advance but our left company “D” was thrown back by some 150 yards on the left rear. Rifle fire appeared to come from all sides.
11th March 1915
2nd Lieut Cuttle, killed and the following officers wounded: Captains B.L. Maddison, C.R. White, and W.R. Rolls, Lieut D Paton and 2nd Lieut R.L Bentley.
12th March 1915
We suffered some casualties over the operation by cross fire from the remaining German redoubt. Some 56 Germans gave themselves up to one of our Companies. The Germans shelled their old trenches and our new ones heavily during the afternoon and we had many casualties. Captain O Oakes and 2nd Lieut M.E.B. Grosse were killed and the following officers wounded. Lieut A.E. Robinson, 2nd Lieut H.L. Hollis, 2nd Lieut. 2nd Lieut A.J. Pickup, 2nd Lieut F.L. Pyman and 2nd Lieut W.R. Walter. The Battalion captured 129 prisoners. 2nd Lieut J.W. Wyatt missing.
13th March 1915
The Battalion spent the remainder of the day in reserve trenches resting.
14th March 1914
- WW1 Soldier’s Records (www.ancestry.co.uk)
- British Newspaper Archive.
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- Commonwealth War Graves Commission
- National Archives – Battalion War Diaries
- General Registry Office