Private George READSHAW (2462)

6th Bn. Durham Light Infantry

Born: 25 February 1883, Glenridding, Westmorl
and
Died: 22 September 1915, Bailleul, France (Age 33)

George Readshaw was born in Glenridding, most likely at 3, High Cottages, on the 25th February 1883. He was the fourth son of Paul Readshaw, a Lead Miner at the Greenside Mine, and his wife Ann (nee Oliver). Paul and Ann had moved to Glenridding from Weardale around 1880. The family were still living in Glenridding when the 1891 census was taken, so George would have certainly begun his education at Patterdale School. However, we know that George completed his studies at Benfieldside School in Consett, so the family must have moved back to County Durham sometime before 1897.  On the 26th January 1901, his father Paul, who was a Shifter at the Medomsley Busty Pit, died of a heart attack whilst travelling out of the pit at the end of his shift - he was aged 56. So a couple of months later when the 1901 census was taken, we find the widowed Annie living in Park Street, Consett with six of her sons, the eldest four, including George, were working in the local coal mines. Around November 1909 his mother Annie also died, so by 1911 George is now head of the household, living with younger brothers Oliver and Paul in Leadgate, County Durham - they were all coalminers, probably also working at the nearby Busty Pit. 

Towards the end of 1912 George married Esther Coombe and they had two daughters, Ellen and Edith. He had also joined the Consett Territorials and by the time war was declared was a Corporal in the local Ambulance Brigade. On the 26th August 1914, only three weeks after war was declared, George enlisted and was assigned to the 1/6th Battalion of the Durham Light Infantry (DLI), which was part of the 50th (Northumbrian) Division of the Territorial Force. George is known to have volunteered for overseas service. 

When George joined them at the end of August 1914, the 1/6th Battalion were based at Ravensworth Park but had moved to Newcastle by October.  Early in April, having spent six months training, the 1/6th Battalion were in billets at Gateshead, awaiting orders to join the British Expeditionary Force (BEF) in France. The orders arrived and on the 19th April the Battalion, under the command of Lt.Col. H.C. Watson, left Newcastle by train for Folkestone. They arrived the same day and immediately embarked for Boulogne, arriving about midnight, where they spent the night at Ostrohove Camp. The following day the Battalion travelled by train from Pont de Briques Station to Cassel, Nord (about 50 miles) before marching to their billets at Hardifort, arriving at 5am on the 21st April. On the 23rd April orders were received to march at very short notice to Steenvoorde, from there they went by buses to Vlamertinghe to join with forces fighting on the 'Ypres Salient' in Flanders. It was now evident that the lessons which the Battalion had learnt during its long period of training were very soon to be put into practice. Sunday, the 25th April, was the first day spent by the Battalion in the trenches and the next day took part in an action in which 42 men of the Battalion died -just seven days after leaving Newcastle. 

During the next 8 weeks George would have taken part in several actions, experienced heavy shelling and gas attacks.The battalion was finally relieved on the 18th of June but they didn't get much rest; two days later they were marching south to Danoutre and on the same evening were back in the trenches. A few weeks later on the 16th July, the Battalion marched further south to Houplines close to Armentières in France. The sector proved to be very quiet and the trenches exceptionally good. The men were now beginning to realize that their first taste of conditions was not typical of the whole front. After the 'Salient', the Armentières trenches were a picnic and formed the subject of many jests when harder times followed. Many times, probably in the water-logged shell holes of Passchendaele in 1918, was it recalled how once at Armentières even the duck boards were cleaned daily and men were crimed for throwing matches on them. Even so, they did come under shell fire and it was during one of these attacks that George was wounded. He was taken to the
No.8 Casualty Clearing Station at Bailleul, but sadly died the following day the 21st September 1915. George is buried in Bailleul Communal Cemetery Extension, Nord, France. A detailed account from the War Diaries of the 6th Battalion can be viewed via the link in the research notes.

George's obituary was published in De Ruvigny’s Roll of Honour and includes an extract from a letter written by his Commanding Officer Lieutenant Hugh McNair.

   “I have lost a good soldier – one of the best, as a chum of his said when he heard the news. Always the same here as I knew him at home – quiet and ready to do any duty at any time. It may be of some consolation to you to know of the great esteem in which George was held by all his comrades, and his Platoon Sergt. Bainbridge asked me to tender to you his deepest sympathy. As you will doubtless know, I got a good many of the Consett and district men at Ravensworth, but I am sorry to say that the number is now greatly reduced. Perhaps you would like to know exactly how George was hurt. A heavy bombardment was going on, and the company, with the exception of the sentries, were in the shell trench just in the rear. George was on sentry in a splinter-proof dug-out. A heavy shell, however (and nothing will stop these shells), came from the flank and smashed the shelter in. George was partly buried, but when we got him out we thought the only injury was scratches on his face. After dressing the face, however, we discovered that his left leg was fractured below the knee… We could not, of course, tell if he was injured internally”

George had completed just over a year with the DLI and just 5 months in France and Flanders before he died. His medal card1 shows that he was posthumously awarded the Victory Medal, British War Medal and the 1915 Star.

He is remembered and commemorated on: 

The Patterdale War Memorial
Glenridding Public Hall – Roll of Honour (alongside his brother Oliver)
Leadgate War Memorial (Front Face of Pedestal)
Church of Saint Ives, Leadgate - Memorial Plaque
Consett Drill Hall - Brass Plaque2 to the memory of comrades 6th Bn. DLI
(Now located in the porch of Christ Church, Consett)
De Ruvigny’s Roll of Honour 
Bailleul Communal Cemetery Extension, Nord3 (Plot 2, Row A, Grave 31)
The Commonwealth War Graves Commission Memorial Certificate


What became of his family?

It is thought that George's widow Esther married Albert Robinson in the Consett area. It is not known what became of George's two daughters Ellen and Edith.

As for his brothers and sister; they all moved back to the Consett area and this is all we know at the moment:

John William was born on the 29 Apr 1871 in Stanhope, Weardale. In 1891, he was single and working at the Blast Furnace of the Consett Iron Foundry. He married Margaret Annie Layton around May 1900 and they had one son Ernest William Henry (b. 23 Sep 1905). Sadly Margaret Annie died in 1913. When the 1939 Register was taken John William was living at 42, Falmer Rd in Darlington, along with his son Ernest who had married Laura M Scruton earlier that year. John died on the 26 Oct 1940. Ernest died on the 23 Jun 1960 and his wife Laura remarried in 1966.

Margaret was born about November 1877 in Rookhope, Weardale. She is listed with the family in the 1891 Census when they were living in Glenridding. In the Spring of 1898, not long after the family had moved back to the North East, Margaret married John George Winch a coal miner. They had eight children; George Rutland (1899), Thomas Whitfield (1900), Beatrice May (1901), Anne Elizabeth (1903), Benjamin (1905), Olive Louisa (1907), Sydney who was born towards the end of 1910 but sadly died in August 1911 (he is buried in Blackhill Cemetery, Consett) and Elsie (1913). Margaret died in December 1915, at the early age of 38, and was buried in Blackhill Cemetery, Consett on the 22nd January 1916.
Whitfield was born in 1880 in Rookhope, Weardale. He became a miner and married Sarah Ann Hardon towards the end of 1906 in the Durham area but his wife died whilst giving birth to their first child Alfred Frederick in 1910. Last record found was in 1911, where he was living in Consett with his wife's family and his 8 month old son.

Thomas Dickinson was born about February 1881 in Glenridding and baptised on the 31st May 1884. He married Lily Robinson in 1901; in 1911 they were living in Knitsley where Thomas worked at the Consett Iron Foundry; They had ten children.

Oliver was born about August 1885 in Glenridding. He joined the Durham Light Infantry (14th Bn.), probably at the same time as George. He was killed in action 23rd October 1915 just 4 weeks after George. It is curious that his name appears on the Roll of Honour but for some reason was not added to the War memorial. 

The twins, Robert and Paul were born about April 1888 in Glenridding and baptised on the 9th May. Sadly, Robert died in October aged just 5 months. Last record found was in Leadgate with George and Paul in 1911.

Sidney was born about August 1889 in Patterdale. In 1912, he married Mary Williams in Durham; they had two sons.


Notes:

1. Medal Card for Private George Redshaw (2462) Durham Light Infantry.


The Victory Medal
To qualify for the Victory medal one had to be mobilised in any service and have entered a theatre of war between 5 August 1914 and 11 November 1918).

The British War Medal

To qualify for the British War Medal a member of the fighting forces had to leave his native shore in any part of the British Empire while on service. It did not matter whether he/she entered a theatre of war or not.

The 1914-15 Star

The 1914–15 Star was approved in 1918, for issue to officers and men of British and Imperial forces who served in any theatre of the War between 5 August 1914 and 31 December 1915 (other than those who had already qualified for the 1914 Star).

2. Brass Plaque in Consett Drill Hall to the memory of comrades 6th Bn. DLI


3. Bailleul Communal Cemetery, Nord, France

Bailleul is a large town in France, near the Belgian border, 9 miles south-west of Ypres.

The earliest Commonwealth burials at Bailleul were made at the east end of the communal cemetery but in April 1915, when the space available had been filled, the extension was opened on the east side of the cemetery. The extension was used until September 1918 and after the Armistice graves were brought in from the neighbouring battlefields.

BAILLEUL COMMUNAL CEMETERY contains 610 Commonwealth burials of the First World War; 17 of the graves were destroyed by shell fire and are represented by special memorials.

BAILLEUL COMMUNAL CEMETERY EXTENSION contains 4,403 Commonwealth burials of the First World War; 11 of the graves made in April 1918 were destroyed by shell fire and are represented by special memorials. There are also 17 Commonwealth burials of the Second World War and 154 German burials from both wars. Both the Commonwealth plot in the communal cemetery and the extension were designed by Sir Herbert Baker.  More Details


4. The family name was often recorded as REDSHAW, particularly on later documents. We have used the spelling READSHAW as this was used when registering his birth and therefore would be the spelling on his birth certificate - it is also the spelling on the Patterdale War Memorial.



Research Documents
        
        Census Returns
De Ruvigny’s Roll of Honour 
Register of Soldiers Effects
The Story of the 6th Battalion Durham Light Infantry