George Hiorns, Soldier (1876 - 1916)
Private 4419 & 10607 South Staffordshire Regiment
1st Battalion, Boer War 1899-1902 & First World War 1914-1918
George Hiorns was born in March 1876, at Barford,
Warwickshire, the son of William and Mary Hiorns, of Barford. After
a local education he was employed as a labourer. Seeking a better
life he decided to join the British Army and on December 10th 1894,
enlisted at Warwick into the South Staffordshire Regiment.
His description on his attestation was as follows:
Age: 18 years 9 months
Height 5'5½ "
Chest: Minimum 33" Maximum Expansion 36½"
Hair: Dark Brown
Religion: Church of England
Four days later on December 14th, he arrived at
Lichfield where he underwent his basic training and was eventually
posted to the 1st Battalion, who were stationed at Whittington Barracks,
Lichfield, on February 24th 1895.
On January 12th 1897, he was posted
to the 2nd Battalion South Staffordshire Regiment, who were serving
in India, for a period of 5 years 65 days.
On March 18th 1902, he
was posted back to the 1st Battalion who were now fighting in South
Africa against the Boers. Whist the 1st Battalion South Staffordshire
Regiment were still serving in South Africa, Private George Hiorns
returned to England on January 6th 1903, as he had completed his
period of engagement.
He was finally discharged 5 days later and
transferred to the Army Reserve. On December 9th 1906, he was
discharged on completion of his 1st period of limited engagement.
George Hiorns married Annie Matilda, and they lived at 88, Cliffe Hill,
Coventry Road, Warwick, and had two children. As peace in Europe
eroded away, war was declared upon Germany on August 4th 1914.
October 1914, George Hiorns enlisted again at Warwick into the South
Staffordshire Regiment. Following his period of training, he was
sent to France in 1915 to join the 1st Battalion . The Battalion
had been fighting in France & Flanders since October 1914, as
part of the 22nd Brigade, 7th Division.
It is not known what month
in 1915 he joined his Battalion, but the Battalion throughout that
year took part in many important battles. In March 1915, they were
involved in the Battle of Neuve Chapelle, and in May, the Battle
of Festubert. Trench warfare continued throughout the summer months,
and finally preparations were made for the attack on Loos on September
25th 1915. The 1st Battalion was very heavily involved in the fighting
sustaining many casualties. The attack was not a success, and therefore
the Battalion was involved again in the latter stages on the Attack
on Hohenzollern Redoubt on October 13th 1915.
At the end of October,
the Battalion was inspected by H.M.King George V, before returning
to normal periods of trench warfare, training and the occasional
In December 1915, the 1st Battalion changed
from the 22nd Brigade to the 91st Brigade.
On January 30th 1916,
the 1st Battalion moved into the area Bray-sur-Somme, and went into
Reserve billets. It was here that they were under shell fire for
a few days sustaining slight casualties. Private George Hiorns was
one of the unfortunate soldiers who was caught in the shelling and
died of his wounds on February 4th 1916, age 39.
He was buried in
Plot A, Grave 6, in Chipilly Communal Cemetery, France. He is also
commemorated by name on Barford War Memorial, a memorial inside
St Peter's Church, Barford, and Warwick War Memorial.
A report of his death appeared in the Warwickshire Advertiser on
February 26th 1916:
"News has reached Barford that Private G Hiorns, 1st South
Staffordshire Regiment, has died of wounds received in action. He
was home on leave quite recently. Private Hiorns also fought in
the South Africa War, and enlisted for the present campaign in October
1914. He was a married man and leaves two boys aged 9 and 10. His
age was 39."
Article written by David Baldwin, who writes
"I have been very keen on military research, the seed being set during my school days, and my interest has so far not wavered. I have been to the Battlefields many times now and each time I am always moved by the great sacrifice Britain paid for Freedon and Honour. I am sending a potted account of the life of George Hiorns and also a photograph of his grave which I took in 1998. The British cemetery was placed next to the French civilian cemetery during the 1914-1918 war and is not far from the River Somme. The whole area takes its name from the river. He was quite old for a Great War soldier as I have found 4 graves of soldiers as young as 16 years. If your article on the website is successful, I do hope that it produces a photograph of George".
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