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War Memorials



In Memory of
GEORGE HAZZLEDINE
Private 265922
1st/7th Sherwood Foresters (Notts & Derby) Regiment
Who died on Saturday, 1st July 1916
Age 27

No Known Grave. Pier & Face 10C & 11A
Thiepval "Memorial to the Missing", Somme, France

Commemorated in Perpetuity
by the Commonwealth War Graves Commission
&
Remembered with Honour
Thiepval Memorial

Thiepval "Memorial to the Missing", France1

George Hazzledine was born in Beeston in 18892, the son of George (b. c1844, Beeston) and Mary H Hazzledine (b. c1851, Beeston, née Shrewsbury). George was the sixth of their seven children, the youngest of their three sons3. In 1901, the family was living at 47 Nether Street, Beeston with George senior working as a night watchman on the railway4. By 1911, Mary had died and George snr, still working as a railway night watchman, was living at 20 Evelyn Street, Beeston with two daughters and George junior, who was working as a moulder in an iron foundry.5.

Towards the end of 1911, George junior married Sarah Bell who was then living at 38 Huntingdon Street, Nottingham with Mary Alice (b. 1865, née Bell) and John Thomas William Gilliatt (b 1862, a joiner), her 'aunt' (actually her second cousin) and 'uncle', Sarah had gone to live with them following her father's death in 1907, at which time her mother had found a position as housekeeper to a local family. Sarah was born in Newark, in 1888, the daughter of Obadiah (1844-1907) and Elizabeth (née Smith). George and Sarah's only child, Maisie Alice Hazzledine was born in 19126.

Prior to the war, it appears that George was already active with the Territorial Force so that, war came in August, 1914, he would be amongst the first to enlist, signing up with the Sherwood Foresters (Notts & Derby) Regiment and joining its 1st/7th Battalion which was formed from Territorial Force members. The battalion, as a whole, landed in France in February 1915, as part of the 139th (Forester) Brigade and soon saw action in the trenches in the Ypres salient, incurring substantial casualties. Although Private Hazzledine had not been part of the original contingent, he was part of a group of reinforcements, consisting of an officer and 103 men sent on 27 June 1915, which joined the battalion, then positioned and in action in Sanctuary Wood, on 29 June. In July they faced terrifying flamethrower attacks and very heavy fighting and resulting casualties continued throughout August7. In September/October of that year, the battalion was involved in the Battle of Loos, another period of terrible fighting with huge losses, rightly described at its height, by one soldier, as "Hell with the lid off". During an attack on the Hohenzoltern Redoubt on 14th October, Captain Charles Geoffrey Vickers, the son of Charles Henry Vickers, the Nottingham lace manufacturer, displayed gallantry in the face of the enemy for which he was awarded the Victoria Cross8.

For Private Hazzledine and many of his colleagues, this first few months had been a terrible introduction to trench warfare - but the worst was to come.

In the last days of June 1916, the Battalion was in position, as part of 46th (North Midland) Division, for what was to be the great Somme offensive against the German held Leipzig Salient. During this time, the German lines were pounded by artillery fire which was so intense at times that it was thought that the enemy defences would be so destroyed as to make the intended major attack possible. Bad weather had delayed the attack intended for 28th June and the Battalion was held in the Foncguevillers area, at the northern end of the line, opposite Gommecourt, awaiting orders to move forward for the attack. At 7.27am on 1st July, smoke was discharged and the battalion attacked in five waves at 7.30am with 5th Battalion Sherwood Foresters on its right. In the confusion of heavy smoke and unexpectedly strong German counter-attacks, only a small number of men were able reached the German line, having found gaps in the wire. Overall, the men faced very heavy resistance, heavy machine gun fire and bombing attacks which made significant advances impossible and there were very heavy casualties during the first hour. German artillery fire bombarded the trenches all morning resulting in many more casualties. By the time the battalion was withdrawn in the late evening, casualties totaled 19 officers and 424 other ranks. Of these, about half were known to have been killed or were missing9. Private Hazzledine was amongst those who were killed on that terrible day.

Private Hazzledine's body was never found and he is commemorated on the Thiepval Memorial, which now stands adjacent to the Leipzig Redoubt. The Thiepval War Memorial to the Missing was unveiled on the 1st August 1932 by the then Prince of Wales and is the largest British War Memorial in the world. Standing 150 feet high, it dominates the surrounding area. The memorial stands on a concrete raft 10ft thick, built 19ft below the ground, the solution to the problems of building over the warren of tunnels that formed the German second line. Designed by Sir Edwin Lutyens the memorial has sixteen masonry piers, where can be found, on the panel faces, the names of some 72,000 British and 830 South African soldiers who died and have no known grave, during the period starting in July 1915, when the British Third Army took over from the French, through the Somme battles of 1916, until 20th March 1918, the eve of the last great German offensive on the Somme. The focal point of the memorial is the Stone of Remembrance, which lies under the great arch and centrally between the piers, for which Rudyard Kipling chose a quotation from Ecclesiasticus, "There name liveth forevermore".

Private Hazzledine was posthumously awarded the 1914-14 Star, the British War Medal and the Victory Medal. His wife received his pay of 1 3s 4d on 20 August 1917 and a War Gratuity of 7 10s on 6 October 191910. After his death, his widow and child returned to live at 56 Huntingdon Street, Nottingham with John and Mary Alice Gilliatt, presumably taking charge of household duties after Mary Alice's early death.11


Footnotes
1The photograph of the Thiepval Memorial is from the Commonwealth War Graves Commission website. (http://www.cwgc.org)
2His birth was possibly that recorded in Basford Registration District (of which Beeston was part) in Q2/1889 (Ref 7b 198). However a death of a person of the same name, age 0, in Basford Registration District in the same quarter ( Ref 7b 94) would require ruling out as the same person.
3George's siblings were Francis (c1874-1937), Jane (b. c1876), Elizabeth (b. c1878), Maris (b, c1880), William (b. c1887) and Glorence May (1892-1931>.
4Beeston, 1901 Census, Piece 3153 Folio 150
5Beeston, 1911 Census, Piece 20432 RD429 SD3 ED7 Schedule 110
6Their marriage took place in Nottingham Registration District in Q4/1911 (Ref 7b 615). Maisie Alice was born on 28 May 1912, recorded in Basford Registration District (of which Beeston was part) in Q2/1912 (Ref 7b 524)
7As Private Hazzledine's Army Service Record has not survived, details of his likely enlistment and arrival in France are derived from his Medal Card and the battalion's war diaries. His possible involvement in the Territorial Force is indicated by a record of an earlier service number (3304).
8Captain Vickers' Citation reads 'For conspicuous bravery in the Hohenzoltern Redoubt when all his men had been killed or wounded and with only two men available to hand him bombs, Captain Vickers held a barrier for some hours against attacks from the front and flanks. By ordering a second barrier to be built for the safety of the trench, he knowingly cut off his own retreat. He was severely wounded but saved a critical situation.' (Gazette, 18th November 1915). He was decorated with his Victoria Cross by King George V at Buckingham Palace on the 15th January 1916 and, on his return to Nottingham, was given a civic reception and presented with a gold watch by The Lord Mayor, in front of a large cheering crowd in the Market Square.
9This account is based on the Battalion's war diary.
10WW1 Medal Card and "Army Register of Soldiers' Effects, 1901-1929" - available on ancestry.com. The amount of the gratuity tends to indicate that he enlisted in November 1914.
11Sarah Hazzledine is recorded at that address on the Commonwealth War Graves Commission memorial to her husband. She remained a widow up to her death in Q2/1963 in Basford Registration District (Ref 3c 39). Her daughter Maisie married George Gilbert Lodge in 1937 and they made their home at 125 Haydn Road Sherwood, Nottingham.

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