George Henry Woodward, 9811 Sergeant, 1st Battalion, Cheshire Regiment
Killed in action 22nd October 1914 in France, aged 21
George Henry Woodward was born in 1893 at Northwich, the son of Rosina and John Woodward, a fustian cutter in the cotton industry. By 1901 the family had moved to Macclesfield and were living at 5 Buke Street, Knights Brow. The 1911 census records George, then 17 years of age, living with his parents and older sister Elsie at 5 Clough Cottages, Knights Brow, and employed as a clerk.
Some time later, after his 18th birthday, George enlisted into the Army and joined the 1st Battalion, Cheshire Regiment. He must have quickly demonstrated his abilities, as he was soon promoted to the rank of sergeant.
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. On 22nd October the Battalion was in defensive positions around the village of Violaines. At 5.10 am in the morning, the Germans launched a heavy attack, and took the trenches at the point of the bayonet. Initially ‘D’ Company was forced to retire, which exposed the flanks of ‘B’ and ‘C’ Companies, and without troops on their flanks they were also forced to withdraw under heavy enemy fire. At 8.00 pm the Battalion was withdrawn from the front line to a new position further east. Casualties were significant: 3 officers were killed, 20 officers and men were wounded and a further 200 were missing. It was later confirmed that 53 men, initially recorded missing, had been killed in action – including Sergeant George Woodward. He was officially reported missing on 21 November 1914 and his death was later presumed to have taken place on or since 22 October 1914.
Sergeant George Woodward has no known grave, and his name is listed on Panel 13 of the Le Touret Memorial in Pas de Calais, France. The Commonwealth War Graves Commission holds casualty details for Sergeant George Woodward, and he is listed on the Imperial War Museum’s Lives of the First World War website.