Chant, George Frederick. Died 23rd Mar 1918

George Frederick CHANT was born on 28 January 1880, in Enfield, Middlesex, the son of Anthony Chant, a coachman from Yeovil, Somerset, and Ellen, née VALE, Chant who was born in Westminster. George was baptised on 20 June 1880 at the Enfield Jesus Chapel, Enfield, when the family was living in Turkey Street.

In 1891 the family were living in ‘the cottage’ in Enfield, apparently not far from the ‘Spotted Cow’ beer house. The family seems to have remained in Middlesex, but George was elsewhere and has not been found in the 1901 or the 1911 censuses.

However, it seems that he was one of the many workers who came to work in Rugby at the expanding British Thompson Houston (BTH) works in the years before the war. Thomas moved to Rugby and went to work in the BTH Stores. He married with Alice E. Welch, the marriage being registered in Rugby in Q2, 1915.   They later lived at 43 Union Street, Rugby.

At some date, possibly somewhat later in the war, he joined up in Rugby as a Driver, No.88840 in the Royal Field Artillery. There is no surviving Service Record, so the details of his service are unknown – and being in the Artillery it is less easy to plot his progress. His Medal Card shows him in the Royal Field Artillery but there is no qualification date for when he went abroad, so it was probably in 1916 or even later. In March 1918, he was serving with the Royal Field Artillery, at the Headquarters, 4 Corps.

However, on 21 March 1918, the Germans launched a major offensive, Operation Michael, against the British Fifth Army and the right wing of the British Third Army. The German artillery targeted command and communications; then, the destruction of artillery; and then the front-line infantry. The artillery bombardment began at 4.40am on 21 March 1918, and hit targets over an area of 150 square miles, the biggest barrage of the entire war. Over 1,100,000 shells were fired in five hours.

Whilst the first bombardment of artillery positions was on 21 March, artillery attacks continued and George Frederick CHANT was ‘killed in action’ on the third day of the battle on 23 March 1918, aged 23. Because of the intensity of the battle, with the Germans moving forward in strength, and in the confusion of the retreat and rearguard action, the bodies of many of those killed were never found or identified.

George Frederick CHANT is remembered on Bay 4 of the Arras Memorial which is located at the entrance to the Faubourg d’Amiens Cemetery in France.   The memorial commemorates almost 35,000 servicemen from the United Kingdom, South Africa and New Zealand who died in the Arras sector between the spring of 1916 and 7 August 1918, the eve of the Advance to Victory, and have no known grave. [One of the] … most conspicuous events of this period … was the German attack in the spring of 1918.

His death was reported in the Coventry Evening Telegraph,[1]

THE ROLL OF HONOUR. Coventry and District Casualties.

The following Coventry and district casualties are notified in the latest lists:
Killed. … Chant, 88840, Dvr. T. (Rugby), R.F.A. …

George Frederick CHANT is also remembered on the Rugby Memorial Gates, and his name appears also appears as ‘CHANT G F’ on the list of ‘BTH Employees Who Served in the War 1914 – 1918’; and as ‘CHANT George F’ on the list of names on the BTH War Memorial when it was unveiled in 1921.[2]

His Medal Card showed that he was awarded the British War Medal and the Victory Medal.

The Army Register of Soldiers’ Effects, 1901-1929 showed that his back pay of £1-16-2d was paid to his widow ‘Alice E’ on 25 June 1918, and then his War Gratuity of £17, in two payments: £5-13-4d on 27 November 1919 and £11-6-8d on 25 February 1920.

 

RUGBY REMEMBERS HIM

– – – – – –

 

This article on George Frederick CHANT was researched and written for a Rugby Family History Group [RFHG] project, by John P H Frearson and is © John P H Frearson and the RFHG, January 2018.

[1]       Coventry Evening Telegraph, Thursday, 16 May 1918.   The death in action of Lce.-Bdr. F. Ward, No.11115, (Rugby), who was also in the R.F.A., was notified in the same edition – he is not on the Rugby Memorial Gate.

[2]       Taken from the list published in the Rugby Advertiser, 4 November 1921.

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