Service Number WR/275867
Battalion 46 Company
Regiment Royal Engineers
George Fletcher was born in Collingham on the 24th November 1896, the son of John and Emily Fletcher (nee Hart). John was a bricklayer and labourer by trade.
At the time of both the 1901 and 1911 censuses, George was living in Church Street, Collingham with his parents and in 1911 he was 14 and was listed as being an errand boy. The electoral rolls for Collingham show George was living in the village in the period between 1911 and the start of the war and he is listed as an Absent Voter in both 1918 and 1919.
George enlisted in Harrogate on the 10th December 1915 and on the 20th January 1916 he was mobilised into the 32nd Battalion of the Northumberland Fusiliers. After his training he went to France on the 6th July 1916, disembarking on the 7th July and he was posted to the Base Depot, before a further posting to the 20th Battalion Northumberland Fusiliers the following day. It was often possible that men were transferred between battalions on arrival in France and we can only imagine the problems of bringing battalions back to strength in the days immediately following the first few days of the Battle of the Somme. George was one man who made a number of quick transfers, moving to the 11th Battalion Northumberland Fusiliers on the 15th July 1916 and joining them in the field on the 17th.
George was appointed as an unpaid Lance Corporal on the 17th December 1916. A few months later, on the 24th March 1917, he was attached to the Transportation Depot in Bologne, attached to 46 Broad Guage Railway Operating Company. This posting was later confirmed when on the 1st May 1917, George was transferred from the Northumberland Fusiliers to 46 Company Broad Guage Railway Operating Company of the Royal Engineers as a Sapper.
George's service in France was broken by leave to the UK from 5th December 1917 until the 14th December. The following year, 1918, George was admitted to hospital on the 3rd June 1918, and he remained in hospital until 29th June. There is some indication in his record that George may also have been injured/wounded in October 1918 and admitted via the 21st Casualty Clearing Station, but his record is difficult to read at this point.
After the immediate end of the war, George was retained in service, being raised to 'skilled' level in February and March 1919. His record shows he had trained as a train guard. George finally was transferred to the reserve and left the Army on the 9th October 1919.
George returned to Collingham after his service and appears in the village electoral roll until around 1922. In 1920, George married Ada Simpson and gave his trade at that time as 'Lad Porter' so his time with the railways in the Army may have been put to use after the War. By 1939, George and Ada were living at 11, Kirkdale Crescent, Leeds with a son, George A. Fletcher who had been born in 1923. George (Snr) was a Railway Goods Porter.
1911 Census. The National Archives. Class RG14 Piece 25962
First World War Medal Index Cards. The National Archives (WO372).
First World War Medal Index Rolls. The National Archives (WO329).
First World War British Army Service Records. The National Archives (WO363).
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