George Henry MANN was born in about 1879 in Rugby. He was the son of Edward Thomas Mann, born in about 1852 in Boston, Lincolnshire, and Emma, née Hitchcox, Mann who was from Milverton, Warwickshire. It seems that Emma’s family had moved to Rugby in the later 1850s, and that Edward – who is missing from the 1871 census – was also in Rugby before 1875, when their marriage was registered in Rugby in Q4 1875. Their second son, George Henry, was baptised on 23 February 1879 at St Matthew’s church, Rugby.
In 1881 the family, including two year old George, his elder brother William Edward and the baby, Albert John, were all living at 11 Oxford Street, Rugby. Edward Thomas Mann was a 27 year old Engine Driver with the L&NW railway.
By 1891 there were three more young daughters in the family, and the family had moved to 120 Oxford Street. By 1901 they were living at 98 Oxford Street [possibly a post office renumbering], and there was another baby boy in the family. George was still living at home and working as a ‘painter and decorator’. By 1911 the rest of the family, including one of the sons who was now married and his wife, had moved to 142 Bath Street, Rugby. Most of the now adult ‘children’ were working at BTH or at the ‘Lamp Factory’.
George married Ellen Rainbow, née Hammond, Mann [1879-1957] at Ryton on Dunsmore, on 21 December 1903, after banns had been called for the third time on 29 November 1903. Their daughter Ivy Annie Mann, was born in Rugby on 21 December 1904.
By 1911, George with his wife and daughter had moved to 102 Oxford Street, Rugby. George and Ellen had now been married eight years, and at this date still had just the one child. Frank was aged 32 and a ‘House Painter & Journeyman’. He later described himself as a ‘Decorator & Paper Hanger’.
However, after a ten year gap, they were to have two more children, Jack Thomas Mann, born on 23 September 1913 and Gladys Florence Mann, born on 20 December 1915. All three children are recorded on his later Pension/Service Record which has survived.
Thomas was attested at Rugby on 10 December 1915, aged 37, – although the paperwork was not ‘approved’ until the 7 July 1916 the document being signed at the Citadel, Plymouth. He joined up as a Gunner, No.98658, in the 262nd Siege Battery, Royal Garrison Artillery. His height was 5 foot 6¾ inches. He remained on an ‘At home’ posting until 4 September 1916.
On 6 July 1916 he was revaccinated, at Plymouth where he was stationed from 6 July until 5 September 1916. Then on 5 September 1916, he was posted to Malta until 5 July 1917.
He was then posted back ‘Home British’ from 6 September 1917 until 8 January 1918, with a period at ?‘2 Dep’ from 14 July 1917 and ?’1 rev Sge’ from 24 July 1917. During this period he also spent time at the Instructional Battery at the Chapperton Down Artillery School at West Lavington. On 26 September 1917 he ‘overstayed his leave’ [probably after his Malta posting] from noon on 26 September until 7.45pm on 27 September. He was admonished and forfeited one day’s pay.
On 9 January 1918 he was posted to BEF France and then to the base depot, in the field, of the 262nd siege battery on 13 January 1918.
Whilst the front had been comparatively quiet, an attack was anticipated and 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.
It was thought that it would have been during this preliminary shelling of the British artillery positions early on 21 March 1918 – and thereafter – that George was wounded. However, it seems that George may have received the ‘gunshot wound to the right leg’, sufficiently before this date, so that on 20 March 1918 he had already been evacuated to the 4th General Hospital, at ‘Dannes-Camiers’, just north of Etaples. He was listed as ‘serious’ and his leg was amputated. Unfortunately this did not save his life and he ‘died of wounds’ at the hospital on 3 April 1918.
He was buried in the nearby Etaples Military Cemetery which was used by the hospitals in the area. His body was buried in grave ref: XXXIII, D, 31A. Later, when a permanent gravestone replaced the temporary cross, his family’s message, ‘Deeply Mourned by Sorrowing Wife & Children – Peace Perfect Peace’ would be engraved upon it.
The Etaples Military Cemetery is located on the former site of a large military hospital complex at Etaples, a town about 27 kilometres south of Boulogne. The Military Cemetery is to the north of the town. The nearby hospitals, which included eleven general, one stationary, four Red Cross hospitals and a convalescent depot, could deal with 22,000 wounded or sick.
On about the day that he died, his wife received a telegram from the army stating that,
‘Regret to inform you Officer Commanding 4 General Hospital Camiers telegraphs 2 April your husband 98658 Gnr G H Mann 262 Siege Bty RGA dangerously ill. Regret permission to visit him cannot be given.’
George Henry MANN is also remembered on the Rugby Memorial Gates. His Medal Card showed that he was awarded the British War Medal and the Victory Medal. His wife applied for these in about August 1921, ‘… as my little son, as I think he is entitled to them.’ They were received on 15 September 1921.
George’s widow was awarded a pension for herself and their three children.
RUGBY REMEMBERS HIM
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This article on George Henry MANN 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.
 No.4 General Hospital was at St. Nazaire in September 1914; Versailles, from September 1914 to January 1916; then at Camiers, just north of Etaples, from January 1916 to April 1919; and after the war at Dunkerque, from April to November 1919.