George Henry's Story.
George Henry Molyneux was born in 1889 to Frederick and Margaret Molyneux. In the 1891 Censor, the family were living in Manchester and Frederick was employed as a Bricklayer. In 1901 the Family had moved back to Chester and in 1911 they had moved into Edgar Cottages, Handbridge.
At this point George is recorded as being a Casement Maker. However, at the age of 18, George enlisted into the 1st Battalion (Bn) The Cheshire Regiment at Chester Castle and joined his Unit on 25th October 1907 at Bordon in Hampshire. For some reason and still within his first three months of service George, with the help of his mother purchased his release from the Regiment for the princely sum of £10 on 20th January 1908. His service number for this period was 8678.
On the 4th August 1914 Great Britain declared war on Germany. An ultimatum was sent to Germany during the day, requiring assurances that the neutrality of Belgium would be respected, a reply being requested by midnight. The reply was in effect a rejection of the British demand, whereupon war was declared. George was one of the first to enlist, again at The Castle, Chester. 2127 Pte George H Molyneux was posted to the B Company of the 5th (Earl of Chester’s) Battalion, The Cheshire Regiment. The Battalion was mobilised and Companies within the Battalion were given Key Point tasks.
E Coy were sent to look after the Liverpool Waterworks at Lake Vyrnwy and B Company were sent to Queens Ferry to look after German prisoners and alien enemy civilians. Later in August the Battalion concentrated in Church Stretton after being relieved by the Royal Welsh Fusiliers. Here they joined the Welsh Division and at the end of August they move to Northampton. On 31st October 1914 the Battalion moved to Coddenham in Suffolk to help with the defences of the East Coast and were warned off to proceed to India, but this was later cancelled and in January 1915 new orders had them moving to Cambridge to equip for Foreign Service. The battalion at this point was 30 Officers and 1000 men strong.
On the 14th February 1915 left Cambridge for Southampton and were divided between three boats. SS Oxonian, Manchester Importer and Glenarm Head. The boats left the Harbour at dusk, crossed the Channel and arrived at Le Harve at 9am. The weather was classed as “Bitterly cold” when they arrived and soon after they moved to a tented camp situated on the heights overlooking the town. The next two days were spent resting and equipping, all ranks were issued with goatskin jerkins, which caused great amusement to the men.
It wasn’t until the 23rd March 1915 that the battalion took their place on the line. They occupied trenches known as J1, J2, J3L, 3R, H4 and J10. The British Line in this sector took an almost right angle turn so was subject to cross fire and “no place to dawdle”. All was going reasonably well for Pte George H Molyneux. He had a few run ins with some and his conduct sheet shows him carrying out Field punishments for “Obscene Language against an NCO”, absence from “bathing parade”, absence from “parade” and absence from “Tattoo Parade”. April 17th 1915 saw a great mine being detonated and Hill 60 being attacked. The Companies of the 5th in line were assisting the attack by vigorous supporting fire on the enemy trenches at their front. It is over the next 24 hours that George received a gunshot wound to his left leg and he was evacuated form the battlefield to a Regimental Aid post then onto a Field Hospital. On the 26th April, George was admitted to No 11 General Hospital in Boulogne with his wounds and then transferred onto the Hospital Ship “St Andrew” on the 28th April. They set sail for Dover and arrived back in Blighty on the 29th.
George stayed in Hospital and convalescing until the 13th September 1916 firstly at Cambridge and then Eastbourne, where upon he was posted back to France. When he arrived on the 14th, he wasn’t sent to the 5th but the 9th Battalion and his army number changed again to 49697. The War Diary of the 9th Bn states that “a reinforcement of 43 OR’s was received” on 26 September and George was one of these. The Bn were currently billeted in Strazeele and was inspected by the GOC Commanding Second Army. Normal routine and parades continued until moving to Doullens on the 6th October. George and the 9th Bn were kept very busy over the next month occupying trenches or providing work parties in Hebuterne, Thiepval and Donnets Post. In early November, work parties of up to 300 men were used to dig new communication trenches, to bury field telephone cables and to deliver ammunition and rations to the front-line trenches. The weather was particularly bad. Heavy rain had turned the trenches into quagmires and the artillery barrages had added to their problems. The artillery barrages continued intermittently causing further problems for stretcher bears and messengers who had to travel above ground level to do their jobs.0
On the 16th November the 9th Bn were ordered to attack trenches SITE, DESIRE, LUCKY WAY and R15a. They had at their disposal a Tank and a party from 10 Worcester’s for mopping up purposes, neither turned up on the 18th. However, as always with the best plans “a thick fog came down and direction on the attack was lost. The mud was very deep and clinging to the men. Men got bogged down and could not pull themselves out. When LUCKY WAY was reached our barrage opened up and the men realised what was happening and quickly re-organised and a right wheel was ordered to overtake the barrage….” It was during this action that George was probably killed. On the 19th November the Bn were relieved and the Roll Call on the 20th show the following “casualties, 28 wounded and 15 missing”. His death is recorded as the 21st November 1916, but it could have been any date from the 16th. George is remembered on the Thiepval Memorial which is dedicated to the missing of the Somme. He was awarded 15 Star, the British War Medal and the Victory Medal. George's mother was also able to claim back £5.0.0 of the money that she paid to have him discharged in 1908.
Cheshire County Memorial Project would like to thank Sal Leigh for the picture and information on George.