Barrett, George Arthur. Died 1st Jul 1916

George Arthur Barratt [or Barrett on some of his military records] was born in about 1892, and his birth was registered in the first quarter of the year. He was baptised on 11 May 1892 at St Andrew’s Church, Rugby, at the same time as his elder sister Dorothy.   They were then living at 11 Earl Street, Rugby.

In 1901, George was living with his family at 23 Stephen Street, Rugby. His father, Frederick Thomas, b.c.1867 in Rugby, was a House Painter. His mother, Constance Irene, née Cosby, was born in about 1873 in Brighton. George had an older sister Dorothy Grace, born in Hillmorton and younger brother Leslie, born in Rugby.

George attended St. Matthews School, and before the war worked for Messrs. A Frost & Son as a ‘machine minder’, and he would be the ninth employee from the firm to be killed in the war.[1]

By 1911 the family had moved to 17 Stephen Street, Rugby and George was a ‘Machine Minder at a Printing Works’. His father was now a Signal Painter, working for the L&NW Railway. Sister Dorothy was an Electric Lamp Operator at BTH and there were now three additional siblings, Cyril Frederick, Reginald Walter and Marjorie Irene.

During the war, in 1916, his father died [spelled Barrett] and his widowed mother later moved to 57 Bridget Street, Rugby.

His obituary[2] suggests that ‘… he enlisted in August, 1914, and was drafted to France in the following February. A month later he was dangerously wounded at the battle of Neuve Chapel, and for some time his life was despaired of.

George joined the 1st Battalion of the Rifle Brigade, as Rifleman, No:Z/451. The Battalion was part of the 11th Brigade in the 4th Division. The following movements and actions are advised for the 1st Battalion.[3] [4] As no medal card has been found, there is no more exact date for when George crossed to France and whilst it was suggested that he was in France in early 1915 for the Battle of Neuve Chapel (10–13 March 1915), this doesn’t seem to have been an action in which the 1st Battalion took part!

04.08.1914 Stationed at Colchester as part of the 11th Brigade of the 4th Division.

18.08.1914 Moved to Harrow School.

4th Division was held back from the original British Expeditionary Force by a last minute decision to defend England against a possible German landing. The fate of the BEF in France and the lack of any move by the Enemy to cross the channel, reversed this decision and they proceeded to France.

23.08.1914 Mobilised for war and landed at Havre and the engaged in various action on the Western Front including;

During 1914 – provided infantry reinforcements at the Battle of Le Cateau.   Then the Battle of the Marne, The Battle of the Aisne, The Battle of Messines and the attack on Ploegsteert Wood. The Battalion took part in the Christmas Truce 1914.

During 1915 – The Second Battle of Ypres.

During 1916 – The German gas attack at Ypres, the Battle of Le Transloy; moved south and were in action during the Battles of the Somme.

His death was ‘presumed’, aged 23, on the first day of the Battle of the Somme, 1 July 1916. His body was not found or identified and he is remembered on Pier and Face 16 B and 16 C. of the Thiepval Memorial.

The Thiepval Memorial, the Memorial to the Missing of the Somme, bears the names of more than 72,000 officers and men of the United Kingdom and South African forces who died in the Somme sector before 20 March 1918 and have no known grave. Over 90% of those commemorated died between July and November 1916. The memorial, designed by Sir Edwin Lutyens, was built between 1928 and 1932 and unveiled by the Prince of Wales, in the presence of the President of France, on 1 August 1932.

The CWGC record confirms that he was the son of Mrs. C. I. Barrett, of 57, Bridget Street, Rugby. She received his war gratuity of £4-3-7d on 30 July 1917, and £8-0-0d on 16 September 1919.

It must be assumed that he was awarded the British War Medal and the Victory Medal. He is also remembered on the Rugby Memorial Gates.




– – – – – –


This article on George Arthur Barratt was researched and written for a Rugby Family History Group [RFHG] project, by Anne Rogers and John P H Frearson and is © Anne Rogers, John P H Frearson and the Rugby Family History Group, June 2016.

[1]       Rugby Advertiser, 22 July 1916.

[2]     Rugby Advertiser, 22 July 1916.




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