George Wigley, Private 10135, 1st Battalion, Cheshire Regiment
Killed in action 25th September 1914 in Mons, France, aged 18
George Wigley was baptised on 19th November 1895 at Holy Trinity Church, Hurdsfield, the son of Emily and Edward Wigley, a clogger of 36 Waterloo Street, Hurdsfield. In 1901 five-year-old George was living at that address with his parents and siblings Emily (7), Edward (3) and Alfred (1). By 1911, George, his sister and his widowed mother were living in Tunstall, Staffordshire and both George and his sister were working in the pottery industry.
George must have later enlisted into the Army, joining the Cheshire Regiment, as his medal index card confirms that he landed in France with the Battalion on 16th August 1914.
The 1st Battalion was stationed in Ireland before the War and landed in France as part of the British Expeditionary Force on 16th August 1914. It was soon deployed in action against the Germans to cover the withdrawal of British troops from Mons. Heavy fighting took place at Audregnies near the French-Belgian border on 24th August and the Battalion was almost overwhelmed by four German regiments. By the end of the day, only 205 officers and men could be mustered from the Battalion’s original strength of 1000. The remainder had been killed, wounded or captured by the Germans.
By the 5th September 1914 the Retreat from Mons was over. In a little orchard on the outskirts of Tournant, 18 kilometres from Paris, the 1st Battalion’s depleted force came to a stop. The Battalion was in good spirits, despite their losses, as a result of the valuable few days of rest, and the turn back northwards, which had begun on 6th September was reported to be welcomed by all ranks.
The northward push involved three strongly disputed river crossings which collectively became know as the Battle of the Marne. The 1st Battalion was hardly involved in any of these river struggles and actually crossed the Marne at Saacy.
On 25th September the Battalion was at St Marguerite. George was initially reported missing and his death was later recorded as having occurred on 25th September 1914. His body was never found.
Private George Wigley has no known grave, and his name is listed on the La Ferte-Sous-Jouarre Memorial in Seine-et-Marne, France. The Commonwealth War Graves Commission holds casualty details for Private George Wigley, and he is listed on the Imperial War Museum’s Lives of the First World War website.