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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:

George Hiorns
Age: 18 years 9 months
Occupation: Labourer
Height 5'5½ "
Chest: Minimum 33" Maximum Expansion 36½"
Complexion: Fresh
Eyes: Grey
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 finally 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.

In 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 sporting activities.

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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