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George William Woodall

Date of birth: 1892
Date of death: 1955
Area: Brotherton
Regiment: West Yorkshire
Family information: Son of Anthony and Eliza Woodall
Service number: 29955

War Service

George William was enlisted into the Labour Battalion West Yorkshire Regiment – service number 29955 – on 5/4/1916.
On enlistment he was described as a ‘Milker - Butchers Help’ of 4’ 11” height with a 32” chest measurement. And his next of kin was his mother Eliza.
His records show little detail but on 11/5/1916 just 5 weeks after enlisting he was sent to France.
The 22nd (Labour) Battalion was formed in April 1916 at Millington east of York. It moved to France in May 1916 and was attached to Fifth Army as Army Troops. Labour battalions were generally made up of men who were not considered physically fit for fighting and were engaged in a wide range of labouring tasks largely connected with transport (building roads and railways, operating docks etc.) but also the construction and maintenance of defensive works, trench lines, huts and billets etc. behind the immediate front lines. They were often working in range of the line of fire from artillery, machine gunners and snipers.
The Battalion was part of the Fifth Army, which was a reserve to the Fourth Army which initiated the Somme offensive. It would seem that they soon became involved with the offensive. In early September there was still heavy fighting around Delville Wood (Devil's Wood, the worst place on the Somme) and Guillemont Farm. 12 September was the day the barrage started prior to the attack on 15 September on the Albert/Bapaume Road.
11/12/1916 - Home
2/5/1917 - discharged under King’s Regs para 392 (xvi)
Records state that George was discharged due to “No longer physically fit for war service – mental deficiency not caused by aggravated by active service overseas. Date and place of origin unknown, probably from birth childish and of poor intellect”.
If this was truly the case then the initial assessment was of very poor quality or the need for men to be drafted was overwhelming.
George returned to Brotherton but no further information is available.

Family Life

George William was the cousin of Charles Woodall (see previous account) and therefore shared much of the same family history.
His father was Anthony (4th) the son of Anthony (3rd) and Sarah (nee Birdsall).
In 1871 Anthony (4th), along with his mother Sarah and siblings, was living with his uncle William following the death of his father and working on his farm.
He was still with his mother and three of his sisters in 1881 but his uncle William had also died leaving Sarah as the ‘Farmer’.
In 1883 he married Eliza Bromley from Monk Fryston and by 1891 they had four children - Thomas Anthony (1886), Sarah Eliza (1887), Florence Annie (1889). The fourth child is listed as a three week old daughter with ‘no name’ but this would seem to have been Frances Maud (1891). Their first son Anthony was born in 1883 but died in 1885. The family lived in the High Street and Anthony was a ‘Butcher’ by trade.
George William was born on 11/11/1892 in Brotherton and Baptised in St Edward’s Church.
By 1901 Anthony is described as a ‘Beef Butcher’ and still living in the High Street. George William was not present however as he was staying with his grandmother Sarah at her home in Carleton Terrace, Pontefract (see details in previous account).
During the next ten years to the census of 1911 little seemed to change in that most of the children including 18 year old George William were still living with their parents in the High Street. Anthony was a ‘Butcher (dealer)’ and all the children were involved in the trade.
George’ father Anthony (4th) died in 1914.
After the war George returned to Brotherton but no further information is available.
Eliza Woodall died in 1926 aged 73.
George William Woodall died in 1955.

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