Minchin, George Victor. Died 4th Sep 1918

This biography of George Victor Michin should have been published in September 2018.  However, some confusion with an older George Minchin, also in the Royal Warwickshire Regiment, who was killed on 3 September 1916, meant that the main CWGC search listing gave George Victor Minchin the same date of death in 1916, when he would have been only 16!  However, the background documents on the CWGC site, and later announcements in the local press, confirmed George Victor’s date of death as 3 or more probably 4 September 1918.

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George Victor MINCHIN was born in Aston, Birmingham in about 1900.  His birth was registered in Q1, 1900 in Aston.  

He was the youngest son of Henry John Minchin [b.c.1862 in Bristol] and Mary Ann, née Allen, Minchin [b.c.1861, also in Bristol].  They had married on 10 September 1883, at St Paul’s church, Portland Square, Bristol.

In 1891, the family were still in Bristol, living at 3 Campbell Street, Bristol.  They now had three sons of 6, 4 and 2 years old.  Henry Minchin was a ‘tailor’.

In 1901, the family had moved to 5 Beatrice Terrace in Bristol.  Henry Minchin was now a ‘tailor journeyman’, and there were three more children: two girls and, the youngest by some years, a boy, George Victor Minchin, who was one year old.  However, it seems that the family may have been in the process of moving, following Henry’s period as a ‘Journeyman’, as George, who was born a year or so earlier, was registered not in Bristol but in Aston, Birmingham.

However, by 1911, the family was living in Birmingham, at 186 Nechells Park Road.  George was at school.  When he left school, and before the war and being old enough to join up, George worked for a period as a waiter in a Harrogate Hotel.[1]

At some date after 1911, the family had moved to Rugby – indeed George joined up there[2] in early 1917 – and in 1918, the family were at 10 Market Street, Rugby.  They were still there in 1939.

A later report[3] stated that George joined the army in January 1917, and his CWGC record and Medal Card shows that he served, at least latterly, as a Private, No.36285 with the 2nd/6th Battalion (Bn.) of the Royal Warwickshire Regiment (R.W.R.).  The date when George went to France is not given on his Medal Card, but his date of birth and the fact that he did not receive the 1915 Star, supports a date of enlistment in January 1917.

The 2nd/6th Bn. Royal Warwickshire Regiment was formed in Coventry in October 1914 as a second line battalion and later went to Chelmsford with a role in Home Defence.  It became part of the 2nd/1st Warwickshire Brigade, in the 2nd/1st South Midland Division and in February/March 1916 moved to Salisbury Plain for final training.  In August 1915 they joined the 182nd Brigade in the 61st (2nd South Midland) Division.[4]  The division moved to France, arriving from 21 to 28 May 1916 for service on the Western Front.  There are some references to them becoming part of the 143rd Brigade in the 48th Division,[5] but this doesn’t appear to be supported by the Brigade numbering in the War Diary.

During 1916 the 2nd/6th Bn. R.W.R.’s first action was the Battle of Fromelles on 19 July 1916, a diversionary attack in support of the Somme Offensive.  The attack was badly handled and casualties were heavy.  The 61st Division was so badly mauled that it was not used offensively again in 1916.  George would not have arrived in France until a year or so later, and probably not before mid 1917.

The following précis of actions based on the War Diary[6] of the 2nd/6th Battalion showed that later in 1917 …
… the 2nd/6th Battalion, was involved in the Operations on the Ancre, 11-15 January 1917; the German Retreat to the Hindenburg Line, 14 March-5 April 1917; the Battle of Langemarck, 16-18 August 1917; the Battle of Cambrai: German counter-attacks, 1-3 December 1917.  Due to the manpower shortage being suffered by the BEF, on 20 February 1918, the 2nd/6th Bn. received men from the disbanded 2nd/5th Royal Warwicks.

On the day before the German Spring Offensive, Operation Michael[7] on 21 March 1918, the 61st Division was just north of St Quentin when 2nd/6th Royal Warwicks was ordered to raid the enemy line at Cepy Farm and they obtained prisoners from three regiments and two separate divisions, indicating that the German lines were packed ready for an attack early the following morning.  Unfortunately, this information was not widely disseminated before the Battle of St Quentin began.

The front held by 61st Division opposite St Quentin was one of the few sectors where the attackers were delayed.  Strongpoints held out for most of the day and the Battle Zone was successfully held by 2nd/6th R.W.R.s and four other battalions.  Unfortunately, the neighbouring battalions were driven back and the 2nd/6th Bn. was ordered to retire.  It was then involved in the defence of the Somme Crossings on 24-25 March.  The Division was relieved on 27 March and taken north to make a counter-attack the following day at Lamotte near Villers-Bretonneux.  This attack was shot down yards from the objective and the exhausted remnants were finally pulled out of the line on 30 March.

During the rest of Spring 1918 the battalion was involved in the Battle of the Lys; the Battle of Estaires on 11 April, when the 61st Division arrived just in time to prevent the destruction of the 51st (Highland) Division; the Battle of Hazebrouck, 12-15 April; and the Battle of Béthune, 18 April.

The 2nd/6th Bn. R.W.R. War Diary[8] for this period can be found with the War Diaries of the 61st Division.  In August 1918, the Allies began the ‘Hundred Days’ Offensive’, which led to the Germans retreating or being driven back from all of the ground taken in the ‘Spring Offensive’; the collapse of the Hindenburg Line; and led to the Armistice in November 1918.

Whilst this was a successful offensive, much fighting was involved and many casualties occurred.   The 61st Division was committed to ‘minor’ operations during the pursuit to the Haute Deule Canal.  The activities of the Battalion in this offensive in late August and early September 1918 are recorded in the War Diary and can provide information as to George’s likely whereabouts and the occasion when he was killed.

There were indications of an enemy withdrawal in late August and orders were drawn up for an attack under cover of a ‘rolling barrage’.  On 1 September the Battalion were holding an ‘outpost line’ with the enemy on the east bank of the canalised river La Lys, known to the allies as ‘Canal River’.  In addition to the Daily Reports, there is a lengthy Appendix recording in detail an attack in the period 3-6 September 1918.

On the night of 2/3 September the Battalion relieved the 2nd/5th Gloucesters, taking up a position on left bank of the River Lys and River Still Becque.  The enemy held the east bank and all the main bridges had been destroyed.  A footbridge was found to the right and crossed in early afternoon on the 3 September, but casualties were taken.  On 4 September Companies advanced on the road west of Fleurbaix.  ‘Considerable opposition was met from M.G.s and snipers, and in addition, the road was shelled and the party came under T.M. fire.’  Elsewhere Companies worked around the village of Bac St Maur – they also were later held up by enemy fire.  At 7pm an explosion set off by a time fuse, indicated that the enemy was withdrawing – and a very heavy enemy barrage onto the position followed.  However, by the next day the Battalion held the village of Bac St Maur.

Sometime on 3 or 4 September, and maybe overnight – as records give both dates, George Victor Minchin was ‘Killed in Action’, aged 18.  The earlier ‘Grave Registration Report’ gave 4 September, and the later printed summary, 3 September – although the other three members of the Warwickshires who were also killed on the same day and buried adjacent to George remained listed as killed on the 4 September.  The record of UK, Soldiers Died in the Great War, 1914-1919, also stated 4 September 1918, however, the Rugby Advertiser notices gave 3 September 1918 – such is the confusion of war in an ongoing battle.

Despite the undoubted confusion, George’s body was recovered and he was buried some five miles west of Fleurbaix where they had been in action, in plot: 3. G. 8. in the Anzac Cemetery, Sailly-Sur-La-Lys.  Later when his CWGC gravestone was placed, his parents had the inscription added, ‘He Died that we might Live’.

Anzac Cemetery, Sailly-Sur-La-Lys is on the north-west side of the road between Armentieres and Bethune.  Sailly Church was burnt during the fighting in October 1914, when French cavalry and British and German infantry fought on the Lys, but from the winter of 1914-1915 to the spring of 1918, the village was comparatively untouched.  It was captured by the Germans on 9 April 1918, and it remained in their hands until the beginning of September.

Anzac Cemetery was begun by Australian units in July 1916, immediately before the Attack at Fromelles, and it contains the graves of many Australian soldiers who died in that engagement.  It continued in use as a front-line cemetery until April 1918 and was used by German troops for the burial of Commonwealth soldiers during the following summer.  Anzac Cemetery contains 320 Commonwealth burials of the First World War. … The cemetery was designed by Sir Herbert Baker.

The Rugby Advertiser reported his death on 12 October,
Mr H Minchin, 10 Market Street, has received news that his son, George Victor, a private in the R.W.R, was killed in action on September 3rd.   Pte Minchin, who was nearly 19 years of age, joined the Army in January last, previous to which he was employed as a waiter at a Harrogate Hotel.[9]

There was an ‘In Memoriam’ published in the same issue,
MINCHIN. – GEORGE VICTOR, youngest son of Mr. and Mrs. Minchin, 10 Market Street, Rugby. Killed in action September 3, 1918, somewhere in France; aged 18 years and 9 months.

He was also included in the casualty list in the Coventry Evening Telegraph a few days later,
THE ROLL OF HONOUR.  Coventry and District Casualties.  The following are included in the latest casualty lists: Killed. … R.W.R. Minchin, 36285, G., Rugby, R.W.R.; …[10]

 

George was awarded the British War and Victory Medals and is also commemorated on the Rugby Memorial Gates in Hillmorton Road, Rugby.

 

RUGBY REMEMBERS HIM 

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

[1]      Rugby Advertiser, 12 October 1918.

[2]      UK, Soldiers Died in the Great War, 1914-1919.

[3]      Rugby Advertiser, 12 October 1918.

[4]      Greater detail can be found at https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/6th_Battalion,_Royal_Warwickshire_Regiment, from which this summary was prepared.

[5]      As noted above, whilst reported to be in the 48th Division, the War Diary continued to be kept, and later filed, under the 61st Division.

[6]      The National Archives, WWI War Diaries (France, Belgium and Germany), 1914-1920, Royal Warwickshire Regiment, 61st Division, Piece 3056/2: 2/6 Battalion Royal Warwickshire Regiment (1915 Sep – 1919 Feb); also available on www.ancestry.co.uk.

[7]      See: https://rugbyremembers.wordpress.com/2018/03/20/the-1918-spring-offensive-operation-michael/.

[8]      UK, WWI War Diaries (France, Belgium and Germany), 1914-1920, TNA ref: 61st Division, Piece 3056/2: 2/6 Battalion Royal Warwickshire Regiment, (1915 Sep – 1919 Feb).

[9]      Rugby Advertiser, 12 October 1918.

[10]     Coventry Evening Telegraph, Tuesday, 15 October 1918.

12th Oct 1918. Lord Denbigh Suspects Cunning Scheme

LORD DENBIGH SUSPECTS CUNNING SCHEME.

Lord Denbigh, delivering a war lecture at Coventry on Sunday, said if the German  proposal was simply a cunning scheme for evacuation of Belgium and Northern France, with Germany insisting on retaining what they held in the East, then the Allies would, in consenting to peace on such terms, be putting their head into a noose which would give long and endless trouble in the future. It must be remembered that Germany had made enormous profit out of the War, and boasted that in the destruction they had made of machinery they had put French and Belgian industrial competition out for 10 or 20 years. Germany must, he said, pay for her robberies. If once a war like this were stopped it could not be got going again. What was needed was to make the Germans lose their faith in the military party and in the policy of blood and iron. There could be no real unity until the power of Germany was finished.

IRISH MAIL BOAT TORPEDOED.

THE OUTGOING Irish Mail boat, Leinster, was torpedoed on Thursday morning.
The passengers numbered 650, and there was a crew of 70. Of these it is believed 500 have been killed or drowned.

A Japanese liner has been sunk by submarine off the Irish Coast, and nearly 300 lives lost. It was the usual story of German brutality.

LOCAL WAR NOTES.

Pte A R Fothergill, Royal Berks Regiment, son of Mrs Fothergill, 111 Lawford Road, New Bilton, has been wounded.

The following Rugby men have been reported prisoners of war :—Corpl F C Clements, R.W.R, Pte F Wright, M.G.C, and Pte A C Williams, R.W.R.

Capt Walter Bonn, Welsh Guards, has just been awarded the D.S.O. It will be remembered that he gained the M.C in March.

Pte H C Williams, 1st Royal West Kent Regiment—formerly an apprentice in the B.T.H Drawing Office—who was reported missing on October 26th last, is now presumed to have been killed on that date.

Mr H Hyam, 8 Drury Lane, Rugby, has received official information that his son, Pte Clifford Hyam, R.W.R, was wounded with shrapnel in the leg and arm in the fighting around Cambrai on September 27th. This is the second lad Mr Hyam has had wounded.

Mr H Minchin, 10 Market Street, has received news that his son, George Victor, a private in the R.W.R, was killed in action on September 3rd. Pte Minchin, who was nearly 19 years of age, joined the Army in January last, previous to which he was employed as a waiter at a Harrogate Hotel.

Mr A H Tilley, 46 Railway Terrace, has received news that his son, Horace, a gunner in the Royal Artillery, was killed while gun laying on September 27th He was 20 years of age, and before enlisting in March, 1917, was employed in the Controller Department at the B.T.H. In a letter to the parents his sergeant says :—“ I lost in your son a very useful lad, an intelligent gunner, conscientious and thoroughly reliable taking, as he did, a great interest in his work.

Lieut Albert Francis, 2nd Canadian Mounted Rifles, eldest surviving son of the late William G. Francis and Mrs H Dale, 28 Bridge Street, Rugby, was killed in action on September 29. He was formerly an employee at the B.T.H, went to Canada in 1913, joined up in November, 1915, quickly gaining promotion, and obtaining his commission in June. Mrs Dale has another son, Walter, serving with the Canadians, who won the M.M. Early in this year for bravery on the field.

MENTIONED FOR DISTINGUISHED SERVICES.
The names of General Sir E H H Allenby, Commander-in-Chief Egyptian Expeditionary Force, Rear-Admiral T Jackson, Lieut the Hon F E Feilding, and other navel and military officers have been brought to the notice the Secretory of State for War in connection with the operations at Hedjaz.

LONG ITCHINGTON.
ERNEST WM SMITH AGAIN WOUNDED.—We are informed that Pte Ernest Wm Smith, Grenadier Guards, second son of Mr & Mrs Tom Smith, is again wounded and in hospital. A year ago he received an injury to his thigh, and is now suffering from a big gun wound in the same limb. His younger brother Tom, also in the Grenadiers,was killed in action on September 25th, 1916. Both brothers volunteered early in the War. They were well known in the cricket and football fields, and highly respected by all.

DUNCHURCH.
BLACKBERRIES.—The school children of Dunchurch have responded well to the request of the authorities for their assistance in picking blackberries for making jam for the Forces. Up-to-date the Girls’ School have picked 688 lbs, and the Boys’ School 640 lbs—in all 1,328 lbs or 11cwt 3qrs 12lbs—a record probably unsurpassed by any school of the same size in the county. The largest quantity picked by one individual was 38½lbs by Irene Ellis. Quite a large quantity of crabs have also been forwarded to the jam factory.

MARTON.
CHRISTMAS PARCELS FOR SOLDIERS.—A meeting of the Parcels Fund Committee and Old Comrades’ Committee was held on Tuesday, when it was decided to join forces in the efforts to provide comforts for our boys on active service.

TO HELP THE GUNS TO BEAT THE HUNS
And make money for yourself as well, just by saving your WASTE MATERIALS.
Simple, isn’t it ?
BONES in lbs. or cwts.
RAGS, Woollen or cotton.
BRASS, in lbs, or cwts.
LEAD in any quantity.
IRON of any kind.
We pay the TOP PRICES. Send what you have.
We will send it in the proper direction.
W. BROOK,
2 & 4. PLOWMAN STREET, RUGBY.
Telephone 240.

THE SUPPLY OF MARGARINE.
At the Food Control Committee meeting on Thursday attention was called to the shortage of margarine in the town. It reported that the shortage was due to the railway strike, but supplies had that day come along and normal conditions would prevail in the future.

SEVEN COAL SAVING POINTS.

If the following seven coal-saving points, prepared after exhaustive experiments by the Coal Controller’s Department, are observed, a saving of from 30 per cent. To 40 per cent. of coal may be effected :—

OPEN FIRES.
(1.) The back and sided of every fire should be provided with firebricks or fire-tile not less than 6 inches high.
(2.) The fire-brick at the back of the fire should not be set vertically, but should lean slightly towards the front.
(3) An open fire should measure from front to back not more than 4½ inches
(4.) The ashpit or open space under the fire should be closed with a loose metal plate resting on the hearth.
(5.) The outlet flue opening or “ throat ” above the fire should not measure more than 4 inches in width.

CLOSED STOVES AND COOKING RANGES.
(6.) Closed fires and ranges should be provided with a “ false bottom,” resting upon and covering the grate. The simplest and cheapest device for this purpose, is sheet metal plate, having holes of ½-inch diameter punched in the plate at a distance of 2½ inches apart.
(7.) When cooking is finished all dampers should be immediately closed as tightly as possible.

By adopting these and similar methods every coal user can help the nation through the coming coal crisis and bring victory nearer.

DEATHS.

MINCHIN.—GEORGE VICTOR, youngest son of Mr. and Mrs. Minchin, 10 Market Street, Rugby. Killed in action September 3, 1918, somewhere in France ; aged 18 years and 9 months.

TILLEY.—Killed in action in France on September 27th, 1918, Gunner HORACE A. TILLEY, R.F.A., aged 20, elder son of Mr. & Mrs. A. H. Tilley, 46 Railway Terrace, Rugby.

IN MEMORIAM.

AMOS.—Killed in action on October 9, 1917, Pte. HARRY AMOS, Gloucester Regiment, at Poelcappelle, the dearly beloved husband of Clara Amos, 41 Lodge Road.
“ Sweet is the memory he left behind
Of a life that was manly, clean and kind ;
His fight is fought, he has gained his rest ;
We remember you, dear, as one of the best.”
—His loving Wife and Children.

BOOTE.—In ever loving memory of Pte. S. BOOTE (SYD), 4th Worcestershire Regt, who died of wounds in Belgium October 11, 1917. —From his loving brother and sister Jack and Jeannie and his little nephew Aubrey.

COLLIER.—In loving memory of my dear sons, WILLIAM C. COLLIER, 16th R.W.R., killed in France on October 9, 1917 ; and FRANCIS GEORGE COLLIER, who died from pneumonia on July 17, 1918, at Kirkstall, near Leeds.—From their loving Father.

CURTIS.—In ever-loving memory of our dear one, Pte CHARLES WILLIAM CURTIS (Old Bilton), 16th Warwicks, previously missing, October 7, 1917, now reported killed ; aged 36 years.
“ One year has passed, how we miss him,
Never shall his memory fade ;
God has claimed him, angels guard
The sacred place where he is laid.
Somewhere in France his life he gave,
A husband true, a soldier brave :
Dear Lord, protect my brother’s grave,
A British hero’s grave.”
—His loving sister Bell (Torquay).
—Deeply missed by his loving Mother and Father, sisters Fan and Bell, brother Fred (a prisoner of war in Germany).

GRANT.—In loving memory of Pte. W. GRANT, Cock-robin Cottages, Dunchurch, and of the M.G.C., who was killed in action in France on October 12, 1917.
“ Days of sadness still come o’er us,
Tears in silence often flow,
Thinking of the day we lost you ;
Just a year ago.
Too far, dear Will, thy grave to see,
But not too far to think of thee.”
—From loving Mother, Father, Brothers & Sisters.

HAYES.—In loving memory of C.S.M. GEORGE HINDE HAYES, M.C., 1/7 R.W.R., wounded October 4, died October 10, 1917. Interred at Wirmertoux, aged 34 years.
Also of Pte. FRANK HINDE HAYES, 1/7 R.W.R., killed in action July 19, 1916, at Festubert, aged 19½ years.
“ Their forms are from our household gone,
Their voices hushed and still.
Their places vacant in our hearts,
No earthly power can fill.”
—Deeply mourned by Mother, Brothers & Sisters.

HIRONS.—In loving memory of Pte. HARRY HIRONS, Machine Gun Corps, killed in action on October 10th, 1917 ; aged 22.
“ A loving son, a faithful brother,
One of the best towards his mother.
He bravely answered his country’s call,
He gave his life for one and all.
We pictured his safe returning,
We longed to clasp his hand ;
But God has postponed our meeting
Till we meet in the Better Land.”
—From his Father, Sisters and Brothers.

LANE.—In ever-loving memory of our dear friend, BERT, who died 13th October, 1917, from wounds received in France.—Nell and Ernie.

SALMON.—In loving memory of Rifleman J. R. SALMON, killed in action on the Somme Front on October 7, 1916.

SEATON.—In proud and loving memory of my dear husband (WILL), Corpl. SEATON, Welsh Guards, who was killed in action on October 12, 1917.
“ Oh, surely, my beloved,
Though sign and token all be swept away,
‘Tis not in that land of desolation,
But in our hearts that thou live alway.”
—From his loving Wife and Children.

SEATON.—In proud and loving memory of our dear son and brother, Corpl. W. R. SEATON, 1st Batt. Welsh Guards, who was killed in action on October 12, 1917.
“ We looked for his safe returning.
We longed to clasp his hand ;
But God has postponed that meeting
Till we meet in the Better Land.”
—Sadly missed by Father, Mother, Brothers and Sisters.

WILKINS.—In loving memory of my dearly beloved son, Pte. REGINALD GERALD WILKINS, R.W.R., killed in France on October 12, 1916 ; aged 21 years.