Neville, George Henry. Died 2nd Jul 1916

George Henry Neville’s birth was registered in the fourth quarter of 1880 in Rugby. He was baptised on 28 November 1880 in Dunchurch. His parents were Thomas Johnson Neville, b.c.1840 in Dunchurch, and Lillian née Lord, b.c.1851 in London. Their marriage was registered in Q1, 1873 in Brentford, Middlesex.

In 1891 the family were living in the village of Dunchurch. George now had three older brothers and three younger siblings. His father was a ‘Butcher (Master) & Farmer’. George received his early education at Dunchurch School, and then at the ‘Lower School, Rugby’ now the Lawrence Sheriff School, between 1893 and 1895. When he left school …

… He came on the staff of the Rugby Advertiser for a time, and then went into the employ of Mr G E Over till he was 18, when he joined the army. He served through the Boer War, and afterwards in India. On the outbreak of the present war he came home and took service in the 9th Lancers, but, promotion being slow, he transferred to the Oxford and Bucks. [This appears to be incorrect, but occurs twice in the newspaper report.][1]

For the 1901 census, when George would have been 20, he was not at home, although the family were still living in Dunchurch. He was serving overseas in the Boer War (1899-1902). After the end of the Boer War, he served in India and then returned home and ‘took service in the 9th Lancers’.

Before 1911, when George was 30, he was a Corporal, No.7532 in the Somerset Light Infantry and for the 1911 census he was with about 50 other soldiers at the Clydach Vale Hotel in Rhonda, Wales. There were also three police constables at the hotel. This was probably in connection with the Tonypandy riots of 1910 and 1911 (also known as the Rhondda riots) …
… a series of violent confrontations between coal miners and police that took place at various locations in and around the Rhondda mines of the Cambrian Combine. … Home Secretary Winston Churchill’s decision to allow the British Army to be sent to the area to reinforce the police shortly after the 8 November riot caused ill feeling towards him in South Wales throughout his life.[2]

Soon afterwards, in mid 1912, George Neville married Alice E Culverwell at Weymouth.

In August 1914, the 1st Battalion, Somerset Light Infantry was in Colchester, as part of 11th Brigade, 4th Division. On 22 August 1914 the Battalion landed at Le Havre as part of the British Expeditionary Force. The 11th Brigade fought at Mons, Le Cateau, Nery, Marne, Aisne, Meteran and Messines in 1914; Ypres, St Julien, Frezenberg Ridge, and Bellewaarde Ridge in 1915; Albert and Transloy Ridges at the Somme in 1916.

George was with the Battalion when it went to France, arriving on 21 August 1914, and it was later recorded that he had served at the Battle of Mons. Before mid-1915 he had been promoted to Company Sergeant-Major, and on 30 July 1915 he received a Commission as a 2nd Lieutenant in the Somerset Light Infantry. As a 2nd Lieutenant, on 1 January 1916, he was ‘Mentioned in Dispatches’,
SOMERSET LIGHT INFANTRY. Neville, Second Lieutenant G. H.[3]

On 14 January 1916, his award of the Military Cross for valour in the field was gazetted …

The Supplement to the London Gazette, 14 January 1916:
Awarded the Military Cross
No. 7532 Company Serjeant-Major (now Second Lieutenant) George Henry Neville,
Somerset Light Infantry.

Also in 1916 he was promoted to Captain, and would again, but posthumously, be ‘Mentioned in Dispatches’ as ‘2nd Lt (temp. Capt.)’ on 4 January 1917.[4]

The 1st Battalion of the Somerset Light Infantry was in the 11th Brigade of the 4th Division of the Infantry and on 1 July 1916, George Henry Neville M.C. would have taken part in the attack on Redan Ridge which is between Serre Road and Beaumont Hamel, France.   In June 1916, the road out of Mailly-Maillet to Serre and Puisieux entered No Man’s Land about 1,300 metres south-west of Serre. On 1 July 1916, the 31st and 4th Divisions attacked north and south of this road and although parties of the 31st Division reached Serre, the attack failed and George was killed during the next day.

A report on the attack from a Sergeant who had returned, wounded, to Bilton, was also reported in the Rugby Advertiser.
This sergeant was behind Captain Neville, who was leading his company in a charge, and saw him receive a shot in the arm. But, undaunted, he went on, and presently was struck again in the chest, and fell. The company continued the advance, and nothing more was seen of the wounded officer – the search parties failing to find him.[5]

The Battalion Diary for 1 July 1916 relates that ‘Battn casualties were 26 Officers and 438 O.R.’   Among those listed as ‘Missing believed killed’ was ‘Capt. G. H. Neville.’

Whilst the records of the CWGC state that Captain George Henry NEVILLE, MC, MiD, of 1st Battalion, Somerset Light Infantry, was killed the next day on 2 July 1916, age, 35, this is in conflict with the Battalion Diary.

George is now buried in Plot: XIV, Row: G, Grave 12, in Serre Road Cemetery No.2. His gravestone is inscribed, ‘Beloved Husband’ ‘Love conquers all things even death’. His body was moved into the Serre cemetery from a location about 100 metres to the south-east, and although his original burial was not marked, his body was identified from the ‘uniform & buttons’. A ‘sleeve, cuff, 2 buttons Prince Albert’ identifying him as from ‘Somerset Light Infantry (Prince Albert’s)’ were forwarded to base. He was reburied in a coffin.

He was awarded the British War Medal and Victory Medal; he was also listed for the 1914 Star, but it seems that on 28 August 1919, his widow, Mrs A E Neville, had to apply for its issue. It seems that the clasp for having been ‘under fire’ may already have been issued.   He had qualified for the 1914 Star when he was a Sergeant.

It seems that by mid-1919, his widow had returned to her home area and was then living at 107 Chiswell, Portland, Dorset. She later remarried in late 1920 with Victor J Pearl, the marriage being registered in Weymouth, and she is listed by the CWGC as Alice Ethel Pearl.

George Henry Neville is also remembered on the Rugby Memorial Gates and on the Old Laurentians’ Memorial Plaque. His death is also recorded on the website of Somerset Light Infantry.

 

RUGBY REMEMBERS HIM

 

– – – – – –

 

This article on George Henry Neville 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, 15 July 1916.

[2]         https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Tonypandy_riots

[3]       Medal Card, and ref: London Gazette, 1 January 1916, p.36.

[4]       Medal Card, and ref: London Gazette, 4 January 1917, v.29890, p.224.

[5]       Rugby Advertiser, 15 July 1916.

 

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