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Thursday, 8 November 2012

A Soldier's Short Life - Sympathy Sunday

Long term readers of my blog will know how much I like to mark the month of November by thinking of Remembrance Day and paying tribute to our ancestors who fought in war.   This story of my great uncle George Danson (1894-1916)  is  adapted  from a posting that first appeared in the  Sepia  Saturday series.

This is the sad story of a short life  - that of my great uncle George Danson who was killed at the Battle of the  Somme  a week after his 22nd birthday.  Photographs and memorabilia here came from the collection of his only sister Jennie.    

George Danson was the youngest of eight surviving sons of James Danson and Maria Rawcliffe of Poulton-le-Fylde, Lancashire. Born in 1894, he was followed three years later by the birth of an only daughter Jennie. George was the favourite uncle of my mother and aunt, and they had fond memories of him, perhaps because he was nearest to them in age and took on the role of the big brother. I can see why in the photographs of him below.  

 George (below)  worked on W.H. Smith bookstalls at different railway stations.

George joined the Royal Army Medical Corps in 1916 and I was lucky enough to trace his service record on www.ancestry.co.uk as many were destroyed in the Second World War. On his enlistment, George's medical report stated he was 5'3" tall, weighed 109 lbs. (under 8 stone), with size 34 1/2 chest and he wore glasses.

A photograph of George, with his brother Tom on the left,
Taken by W. J. Gregson & Co, Photographers, 92 Talbot Road, Blackpool.

One of the many embrodered cards sent back from Flanders to George's  mother Maria Danson

Also amongst the family papers were two letters written headed paper of the British Expeditionary Force. A letter of 19th March 1916 to his eldest brother Robert said "I will tell you one thing it is no easy job the army life today and I am of the opinion as most of the chaps are here they won't be sorry when it is all over."

The second letter of 23rd August 1916 was to Frank, his brother nearest to him in age. "At present we are abut 8 miles behind the firing line. I had to assist the wounded at a dressing station and stuck to it for about 40 hours. It's blooming hard work being a stretcher bearer in the field. On Friday I was in a big bombardment and will say it was like a continual thunder and lightening going off. As I write there are blooming big guns going off abut 50 yards away every few minutes. Don't I wish that all of us could get home. Wouldn't that be great, lad, there's a good time coming and I hope we shall all be there to join in."

Three weeks later, and a week after his 22nd birthday, George was killed on 16th September 1916 at the Battle of the Somme, and buried in the Guards Cemetery, Les Boeufs, near Albert.

A photograph of George's grave, sent to his widowed mother Maria Danson

The later memorial to George

Captain Macleod in writing to his mother who had four other sons serving, 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".

The death announcement in the local paper read:

The bugle may sound, the war drum may rattle
But no more they arouse their young hero to battle
For his King and his Country his life he nobly gave
And now he lies sleeping in a soldier's grave.

From Mother, Brothers, Sister, 2 Bull Street, Poulton-le-Fylde.

George's Victory Medal and British War Medal which remain in the family possession.

The War Memorial at Poulton-le-Fylde, Lancashire.
George is remembered below the name of his brother John Danson

For other posts in this year's series of "Lest We Forget"

Copyright © 2012 · Susan Donaldson. All Rights Reserved

Sympathy Sunday is one of many daily  blog prompts from www.geneabloggers.com to encourage writrs to record their damily history.


  1. How sad to read stories of young men who served and died in the Great War. You've written a touching tribute to your great-uncle; well done.

  2. Such a smart and nice young man, died so young; sad!

  3. A nice tribute. He was so small, I imagine being a stretcher bearer was a tough job for him, but such an important one. Thank you for sharing this story.

  4. I really enjoyed this post and included on my Favorites list for the this week: http://www.leavesfortrees.blogspot.com/2012/11/follow-friday-favorites_30.html

    Thanks for posting it!


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