George Roy Fern Blackwell, Private 18219, 2nd Battalion, Border Regiment
Killed in action 26th September 1915 near Loos, France, aged 20
George Roy Fern Blackwell was baptised on 8th March 1896 at Hurdsfield Holy Trinity Church, the son of Annie Mary and William Blackwell, a silk mill manager of Macclesfield.
In 1901, five year old George was living at 225 Buxton Rd, Macclesfield, with his parents and sisters Dorothy (10), Marjorie (3) and Kathleen (1). Ten years later in 1911, the family was still living at 225 Buxton Rd; but sadly Dorothy died in 1903 and Marjorie in 1906.
George was educated at Macclesfield Modern School, which he entered in 1906, and in his last year, 1912, was selected as goalkeeper for the school’s 1st XI football team, “showing promising ability”. On leaving school, he secured a position as a clerk with the London & North Western Railway at Manchester’s London Road Station (now Manchester Piccadilly).
On 1st December 1914, George enlisted at Manchester for service with the Border Regiment. This was one of the professional units that actively recruited in Manchester and other cities, following the heavy losses suffered during the battles of 1914. He was described as being 5ft 5in tall, with a 31 inch chest, weighed 115 pounds and had a scar on the back of his left hand.
Having passed the medical examination, George was sent to Carlisle on 3rd December to join the regiment for training. Five month later on 1st May 1915 he was posted abroad, sailing from Southampton, to join the 2nd Battalion of the Border regiment, which formed part of the 20th Brigade in the 7th Divison. George would have participated in the 2nd Battle of Ypres, and was noted to be missing after the first day of the Battle of Loos, 25th September 1915.
It was later assumed that George was killed in action on or soon after 26th September 1915, aged 20.
Private George Blackwell has no known grave and is commemorated on Panel Ref. 68 to 69 on the Loos Memorial at Pas-de-Calais, France. The Commonwealth War Graves Commission holds casualty details for Private George Blackwell.
In Macclesfield, Private George Blackwell is commemorated on the Park Green, Town Hall, St Michael’s Church, Hurdsfield Holy Trinity Church and King’s School war memorials, and the Ancient Order of Foresters roll of honour.
Elsewhere, he is commemorated at Carlisle Cathedral in the Regimental Chapel and on the former Manchester London Road station memorial (now lost).