Fam­ily hon­ours mem­ory of young hero killed in the First World War

Black Country Bugle - - GAIL MIDDLETON - By JOAN BEACH

JUST be­fore the end of the 100 years since the WWI armistice, I would like you to re­mem­ber three Old­bury men who died on the same day, 30th July 1915.

They were my grea­tun­cle, Ge­orge Boswell, and his two friends, Joseph Cook­sey and Ge­orge Martin. They were with the 8th Ri­fle Bri­gade and were po­si­tioned around Zouave Wood near Ypres.

The ad­vance­ment by our sol­diers was to no avail and the bom­bard­ment by the Ger­mans saw these three friends killed by en­emy ma­chine gun­fire and shell ex­plo­sions. The poor boys were not iden­ti­fied but are re­mem­bered on the Menin Gate me­mo­rial, along with other uniden­ti­fied sol­diers, 54,896 al­to­gether, whose graves are un­known.

Later, the Ger­mans used liq­uid fire for the first time against the Bri­tish. The sol­diers had fought gal­lantly but with heavy losses and to lit­tle avail. Just un­der 2,500 men were killed that day.

The 8th Ri­fle Bri­gade went into the line with 24 of­fi­cers and 745 other ranks. It lost 19 of­fi­cers and 469 other ranks ei­ther killed, wounded or miss­ing. The Bat­tal­ion War Diary for 31st July com­mented “A ca­su­alty list is very hard to pre­pare with­out de­tails from the Clear­ing Sta­tions and ow­ing to many be­ing killed and wounded be­yond reach”.

A large ceme­tery now oc­cu­pies the Hooge Crater, the scene of the flame-thrower at­tacks. Nearby is a traf­fic is­land called Hell­fire Corner, aptly named.

My great-un­cle is re­mem­bered by our fam­ily and I am proud to have his medals and also his Princess Mary 1914 ra­tion tin. Ev­ery Re­mem­brance Day his medals and pho­to­graph are put out so we do not for­get.

He sent this photo to his sis­ter, Florence, on re­ceiv­ing his field pro­mo­tion to lance-cor­po­ral. My great-grand­mother must have been so proud but then the sad news came that he wasn’t com­ing home. She lost an­other son and her hus­band within a year but not to war.

I have traced the Boswells back to John and Su­sanna Boswell hav­ing a son chris­tened in Old­bury Par­ish Church in 1791 – so they are truly an old Old­bury fam­ily.

Lance Cor­po­ral Ge­orge Boswell, killed in ac­tion July 30, 1915

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