Beechholme memorial plaque
Beechholme
Great War Memorial

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EDWARDS C

 

HUSSARS

 

To date we have been unable to identify this man.

If you have any information, please do contact us.

 

Research by Rachel and Jim Stapleton

SOURCES :-

Beechholme WWI memorial

EXELL George

Private 2132

4th South Lancashire

Died 5th April 1917 Aged 33

Husband of Bridget Exell of 7,Orchard St,Warrington.

 George Exell was born around 1884 in Chelsea. (The surname is often spelt Exall ). He was the second eldest of four children born to Thomas and Ann or Annie nee Casey. His father was employed as a basket maker and later a seller of matches and street musician. He was blind.

On the 1891 census the family are living at 46, Boundary Road Hammersmith in shared accommodation with three other families. George is aged seven at this time. His admission date to Beechholme is unknown.

Between 1891 and 1901 life became increasingly hard for the children in this family. An article in the Illustrated Police News dated Saturday the 22nd October 1892 tells us that Thomas Exell, who was described as a blind street musician was brought up on a warrant at the West London Police Court charged with deserting his children who had become chargeable to the parish of Kensington. They were in and out of the workhouse. Thomas in his defence stated that his wife had left him. Detective Brown proved that the prisoner gave way to drunkenness and violent behaviour and he was subsequently given three months with hard labour.

Annie, their mother, was hardly blameless as she had previous convictions for theft, and several summary convictions for drunkenness, when on Wednesday 1st July 1896 she too was brought before the courts charged with stealing £4 from her husband. In the court she made a lunge at her husband hitting him around the head and then struggled violently with the police. In order to secure her, the policemen had to carry her out of the court. She was sentenced to six months imprisonment and the Q.C. described her behaviour as that of a perfect brute.

By 1901 Elizabeth Exell, George’s younger sister was an inmate of Beechholme.

George was by this time in the army, serving with the South Lancashire regiment. He had enlisted on the 23rd January 1897 when his apparent age was given as 14 years. He was 4 feet 8 inches tall and his rank is given as musician. In his service records it states that he was educated for eight years at the Kensington and Chelsea Homes and then for 1 year 6 months on the Exmouth Training Ship so perhaps he had initial plans to join the navy. He had a tattoo on his left forearm which bore the word “Love” and on his right forearm the word “Sailor” His trade was given as musician. It also states that the whereabouts of his father are unknown and that his mother is living in Notting Hill.

His service records show that he was promoted to Driver and transferred to the 8th Hussars in November 1902. He is described as having brown hair and blue eyes.

In 1902 he marries Bridget Farrell in Warrington . He served in the South African campaign and was entitled to the South African Medal, Cape Colony, and Orange State clasps.

 By 1909 he is described as being 5 feet 9 inches tall. He is discharged at the end of his term of engagement in March1913. His special qualifications for civilian life were that he was a good horseman and groom no doubt gained through his attachment to the Hussars which was a light cavalry unit.

George Exell re-enlisted on the 6th August 1914 at the drill hall Warrington and at the time he was an unemployed labourer. His apparent age was thirty two.  By this time he had six young children to support.

With his regiment the 4th battalion South Lancashires George embarked for France as part of the British Expeditionary Force on the 12th of February 1915. On arrival at Le Havre on the 13th of February the regiment became attached to the 7th Brigade of the 3rd Division.

George’s short period of time on the western front was spent in and around Ypres,  commencing in February of 1915 at Locre and from there to the trenches at Dickebusch. On the 21st June 1915 they were sent to shelters in the old rampart of Ypres and from there moved on the 24th of the same month to the Hooge as supporting troops to the garrison of Soave Wood. They then remained in the Salient in the Hooge area until the 23rd July when they were appointed the pioneer battalion of the 3rd Division and were based at Dickebusch.

Before leaving the Hooge sector, the bombers and machine gunners took part in the attack on Sanctuary Wood on the 23rd of July. The detachments furnished by the battalion suffered heavy losses and only twenty seven  bombers of the forty nine sent out returned.

Meanwhile George’s health was beginning to deteriorate. He had some four years previously been hospitalised for chest problems. However, this was far more serious as he  had a cough with expectoration, was suffering with dypsnoea (shortness of breath), chest pain and had blood-stained sputum. He was diagnosed with phithisis ( tuberculosis )  and he was sent to the 1st Canadian Field Hospital at Etaples for three weeks and then to a convalescent camp for two weeks. From there he was invalided home on the 18th of August 1915 to an Epsom hospital for treatment.

At an army medical board convened on the 28th of December 1915,  George was examined and deemed unfit for further army duties. It was felt that the condition originated in July of 1915 at Ypres and was aggravated by army service. George was therefore discharged from the army with total incapacity, on an army pension of 25 shillings per week, plus two shillings and sixpence for each child still at school. This would have been subject to reviews.

George would also have been awarded the Silver War Badge, No. 45,204, to denote that he had been honourably discharged. This was a silver lapel badge intended to be worn on civilian clothes. A certificate of entitlement was also awarded.

Sadly George Exell died at home 7, Orchard Street, Warrington on the 5th of April 1917 with his wife present. His death certificate states that he was an army pensioner and labourer, and gives his cause of death as pulmonary tuberculosis. He was thirty three years old.
The British, Victory and 1915 Star medals to which George was entitled, would have been sent to his wife after the war.

GRAVE REF:- X.RC.804, Warrington Cemetery

George's widow was the sole legatee.

 

Research by Rachel and Jim Stapleton

SOURCES :- Ancestry, Find My Past, The Great War Forum, The Long, Long Trail, The Illustrated Police News courtesy of Find My Past,
The Morning Post courtesy of Find My Past, Commonwealth War Graves Commission, Death Certificate-General Register Office DYD 618160 
Wikepedia

Last updated: 21 Feb 2017

Beechholme WWI memorial