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George Pursglove

Date of birth: 1887
Date of death: 30.7.1916
Area: Bragg Lane End
Regiment: West Yorkshire
Family information: Husband of Edith Pursglove nee Byton
Rank: Private
Service number: 17/1317

War Service

“Mrs Pursglove, Wheel Hill, Bragg Lane End has received official intimation that her husband Private George Pursglove West Yorkshire Regiment has been killed in action. Deceased who was 29 years of age leaves a widow and three children. Previous to enlisting he worked for Mr Blakey shop fitter, Wakefield.” Wakefield Express August 12th 1916.
On the night of the 29th/30th July George was with his battalion in Dublin Trench preparing for the operation the following day. There was heavy shelling overnight with gas and tear shells and many of the battalion were affected with 5 casualties from shelling. At 4.45am they advanced eventually occupying Maltz farm trench just before 7.30am where they were told to stay working on improving the frontline trench. At 3pm a telephone message warned of a possible counter attack but none appeared and at 4.30am on the night of the 30th/31st they were relieved although they were severely shelled as they left resulting in more casualties. The war diary reports casualties between the 13th and 31st July as 10 officers and 304 other ranks.
Private 17/1317 Pursglove of the West Yorkshire Regiment 17th Battalion died on 30th July 1916 according to the Commonwealth War Graves Commission and the medal rolls, but according to the Soldiers’ Register of Effects he died on the 30th September 1916 with his effects going to his widow Edith. It may just be a simple clerical error – a 7 can look like a 9 in some handwriting. Looking at the war diaries it seems that the battalion were in training on 30th September and no reports of casualties. He is remembered on the Thiepval Memorial.
George’s son, Fred Pursglove, followed in his father’s footsteps during World War 2 when he enlisted in the RAF as Flight Sergeant 516705. Fred had married Nora Stanley in Prescot, Lancashire in 1939, but in 1940 he was at RAF Hemswell in Lincolnshire, flying in Handley Page Hampdens with the 61 Squadron. This squadron in their Hampdens were, in 1940, the very first Bomber Command aircraft to drop bombs on German soil. Sadly, on 30th June 1940 Fred was on a mission when his plane was shot down by flak and crashed into the sea just off Holland. He was only 26 years old. His body was never recovered so he is remembered on the Runneymede Memorial.

Family Life

George was born in Goole in about 1887 and together with all his siblings born thus far, baptised in Cowper Street Goole on 16th September 1890. In 1891 I found George living in 26 George Street, Wakefield with his parents Harry and Sarah Ellen. Harry was a journeyman cooper born in Sheffield like his wife and the first two children – Sarah Elizabeth (b 1884) and Thomas (b 1886). George was born in Goole like Harry (b 1889) and Frank who was 7 months old.
In 1901 George lived in Wonder Street, Wakefield with his parents Harry and Sarah Ellen. George was a wool weaver while his sister Sarah was a bottlewasher and his brother Thomas worked on the railway. The younger two children were of school age and there were two more siblings Lily who had been born in 1892 and Florence born in 1898.
In 1911 George was boarding in Bury and working as a French polisher but later that year he married Edith Byton who was Fred Byton’s sister (Fred was killed in action in 1916 too). The couple had their first son, Raymond, in 1912 with George following in 1914 and Fred in 1915.

Thiepval Memorial with gravestones to either side Thiepval Memorial

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