George Wardle, Private 1539, 1/7th Battalion, Cheshire Regiment
Killed in action 25th August 1915 in Gallipoli, Turkey, aged 21
George Wardle was baptised on 22nd August 1894 at St Thomas’ Church, Henbury, near Macclesfield, the son of Mary and Joseph Peter Wardle, a teamster (a man who worked with a team of horses), of 2 Horseshoe Cottages, Henbury.
In 1901, six year old George lived at the same address with his parents and siblings Peter (10), Elizabeth (8), Hannah (4), and William (2). George was educated at Henbury Church School, and in 1911 was employed as a live-in page boy for William Walter Brocklehurst at Henbury Park, Henbury. He later worked for Captain Heath of Upton, near Macclesfield, as a gardener and chauffeur, and was employed as gardener and chauffeur for Mr. Derbyshire of Whirley when the war began.
George was a footballer, regularly attended the Parish Church at Henbury, and was engaged to Nellie Owen of 275 Crompton Road, Macclesfield.
George joined the Macclesfield Territorials about two years before the outbreak of the war, during which time he had acted as orderly to Captain Heath.
George attested at Macclesfield, joining the 7th Battalion of the Cheshire Regiment, and following a period of training in various locations in the south of England, the 7th Cheshires, as part of 159th Brigade, 53rd (Welsh) Division, received orders to equip for service in an undisclosed location in the Mediterranean. In July 1915 they sailed from Devonport to Alexandria in Egypt, then on to the island of Lemnos on the 4th August.
On the evening of 8th August, the Battalion arrived off the coast of Gallipoli and the following day landed at “C” Beach, Suvla Bay. Having landed, they came under shell fire at about 8.30am and so moved north along the edge of the bay; they then received orders to attack in the direction of a dip in the hills behind Anafarta Saghir.
At 8am on 10th August the Battalion was ordered to attack Hill 70. This was unsuccessful and the Battalion suffered severe losses. A second unsuccesssful attack took place at 5pm.
The following day at 2.30pm the Brigade moved north, but the 7th Cheshires and 4th Welsh Regiments on the left were under attack so had to pull back. The 7th Cheshires remained in this position in trenches for several days. George was killed in action on 25th August 1915, aged 28 years.
George’s death was reported in the Macclesfield Times on 17th September 1915:
“A SPLENDID SOLDIER”: TOUCHING TRIBUTE TO A MACCLESFIELD MAN – We regret to state that No. 1539 Private George Wardle, who was serving with the machine gun section of the 1/7th Batt. Cheshire Regiment in the Dardanelles, was killed in action on August 24th. The sad news reached his parents, Mr and Mrs J. P. Wardle, 88 Oxford Road, Macclesfield, on Friday, through letters received from other local men, and the painful tidings were confirmed on Saturday by the receipt of a communication from Private A. Jones, another Macclesfield soldier who was attached to the same gun section as Private Wardle. Private Jones wrote: ” Your son, George, has been killed on duty. We of the machine-gun section, with our deepest sympathy, laid him to rest on August 25th. It is with sad hearts that we have to express this news to you, as George was our right-hand man at everything. I can assure you it broke our hearts when we laid him to rest, although we have lost so many of our pals. I hope and trust it won’t be long before this war is over, so that I may see you – ‘In the midst of life we are in death'”.
Second-Lieutenant Norman Riseley, also of Oxford Road, who was promoted to a commission from Sergeant in recognition of distinguished services in the field, also alludes, in a letter to his father and mother, to the death of Private Wardle. Lieut. Riseley, who was a great friend of the deceased, speaks of him thus: “I am very sorry to report that George Wardle has been killed. I was quite near to him when it happened. He will be very much missed in the machine-gun section, for he was a great favourite with all the boys. It was a sniper who killed poor George.”
Private Wardle was a keen and efficient soldier and took a great interest in his military duties. His parents, both of whom belong to Macclesfield families, removed into the town six years ago last February from Henbury, where the deceased was born. He celebrated his 21st birthday on the boat during the voyage to the Dardanelles. …. He understood thoroughly the mechanism of the machine-gun, in the manipulation of which he was most proficient, and by his death the section has lost one of its most popular and hard working members. ….
Mrs Heath, wife of Captain Heath, Upton, has addressed a touching letter of sympathy to Mr and Mrs Wardle… “I am so very sorry to hear that George has been killed in action. My husband wrote and told me of it … ‘Poor George Wardle was killed last night while fitting up a new machine-gun position. I was awfully sorry, and so were all the machine-gun section. He was quite the best worker they had, and turned out a splendid soldier'”. …
Shortly before he was killed, Private Wardle had penned some interesting letters descriptive of his experiences to his parents and his fiance, Miss Nellie Owen, 275 Crompton Road, Macclesfield. He related to Miss Owen how on one occasion he carried a wounded comrade from the danger zone and placed him in a safe spot to await the arrival of the Red Cross men. Appended are extracts from the last letters written by the deceased:
“You are on your guard in your trench night and day. All you see is long grass, undergrowth, and rough, rocky hills, except for the brushwood on them in front. There is one good thing about the Turks – there is no poisonous gas used, and they are men enough not to fire on our Red Cross. I am satisfied that I have done my bit, and know what war is… We have been recognised more on our way here, at all the ports and by all the ships we passed or met, than we got from Macclesfield. Other mobs were at least recognised by their own towns but we got nothing; not that we mind, but it was just the look of the thing. The cheers and the send-offs we had were champion at Malta, Alexandria and Port Said; it put the fellows in fine form.”
Private George Wardle has no known grave and is commemorated on Panel Ref. 75 to 77 of the Helles Memorial, Gallipoli, Turkey.
The Commonwealth War Graves Commission holds casualty details for Private George Wardle.
The floral tributes laid when the Macclesfield Park Green War Memorial was unveiled on 21st September 1921 included one with the words “In loving and revered memory of George Wardle, 88, Oxford Road.”