Today's theme: Death in Service
My great uncle George Danson (1894-1916) has featured a number of times on my blog and a full profile of him as a soldier can be read at "A Stretcher Bearer in the Field" written for the Sepia Saturday prompt series.
Do take a look, as it is a poignant example of how many fine young men died in the First World War. I was fortunate to inherit from his sister Jennie (my great aunt) a collection of photographs and memorabilia which add so much to the story of his short life.
George was a stretcher bearer in the Royal Army Medical Corps and died at the Somme a week after his 22nd birthday on September 16th 1916.
Left - A photograph, sent to his mother, of George's grave. It conveys in a stark way the reality of war amid the mud and blood that George must have experienced - and contrasts with the pristine white of the more lasting memorials that we recognise today.
In this post, I have tried here to take a different approach on George's story by looking at the different roles he played as son, brother, uncle, friend, employee and finally soldier.
George is remembered as:
- A SON - the youngest of eight surviving sons of James (deceased) and Maria Danson of Poulton-le-Fylde, Lancashire.
- A BROTHER - to Harry, John, Robert, Albert, William. Tom, Frank and only sister Jennie.
Taken by W. J. Gregson & Co, Photographers, 92 Talbot Road, Blackpool
- A CHURCH MEMBER - George sang in the choir at St. Chad's Church in Poulton-le-Fylde - as referred to in his obituary in the local paper "Fleetwood Chronicle".
|A photograph taken by George's nephew (my uncle) Harry Rawcliffe Danson|
A FRIEND - George had enlisted January 1916 at Halifax, West Yorkshire. His service record (traced on Ancestry.co.uk) gave his address at the time as 17 Harker Street, Harley Bank, Todmorden, with occupation station bookstall manager. I turned to the 1911 census online and found the Dodd family at 17 Harker Street, Harley Bank, Todmorden, with head of household Elizabeth Dodd (occupation choring) and three daughters Amy aged 15 (a cotton weaver), Edna 12 (a fustian sewer) and Lavinia aged 9. This photograph was found amongst the collection of George's sister Jennie, who wrote the inscription on the back.
- AN EMPLOYEE - in the 1911 census 16 year old George was described as a "bookstall newsboy". He later worked on W.H. Smith station bookstalls in Poulton, Manchester and Todmorden.
|George in front of his station bookstall.|
- A SOLDIER
The second written from France on August 20th 1916 was to Frank - the brother neared to him in age.
"At present we are about 8 miles behind the firing line and getting along fairly well, but a day or two ago, I fully expected having to go right into the front line trenches but luckily escaped that, and had to assist with wounded out 4 miles behind at a dressing station, and stuck to it for about 40 hours ad when finished I had a good rest. We should not have worked so long only there has been a (?) on & I’m glad to say, we captured everything our chaps went out for, although it made us rather busy. ...................
it’s blooming hard work in a stretcher bearer on the field. On Friday afternoon I was in a big bombardment & will say it was like a continual thunder & lightening going off & as I write there (?) blooming big guns about 50 yards away going every few minutes so you will see it's not great. ......
George was killed on the Somme.
Captain MacLeod in writing to George's wiopwed mother said: "He was one of my stretcher bearers and was gallantly doing his duty over open and dangerous ground which suddenly became subjected to severe shell fire. He continued steadily bearing his burden and was only stopped by the shell that took his life. We mourn his loss and are very proud of him".
|Guard's Cemetery, Les Boeufs, near Albert - George's final resting place.|
Copyright © 2014 · Susan Donaldson. All Rights Reserved