George William Hammond

George William Hammond
George William Hammond

Born in St Ives 1895, George was the eldest son of seven surviving children born to William and Charlotte (née Marshall). George's father was a brewer's drayman. In 1901 they lived in Nicholas Lane, St Ives. By 1911 the family of nine had moved to George Yard, St Ives. George worked as a bottle washer at a mineral water factory, most probably Wadsworth's bottling works. By 1913 he worked as a GER railway gatesman.

George had a couple of minor brushes with the law. In January 1913 he was charged with aiding and abetting in an assault case. He was again mentioned in the local court in July 1913, pleading not guilty to causing damage to growing grass. George was too busy to attend, his mother appearing to read out his letter to the court.

George enlisted in January 1915 at Bedford with the 4th Battalion, Queen's Own Cameron Highlanders. He was in France by April 1915 and survived several battles.

In June 1915 the Cameron Highlanders moved near to Givenchy. They were subject to constant mining, sniping and trench mortar attacks. A decision was taken to make a large-scale attack on the German front. Preceded by a 48 hour bombardment and immediately after a huge mine was exploded under the enemy positions, the British forces advanced across no-man's land at 5.58am on 15 June 1915. Protected by deep trenches and dugouts, the German defences were barely touched. Machine gun and rifle fire cut down most of the approaching British soldiers. The attack was a complete failure, incurring heavy casualties. George survived the first day of the attack.

War Diary - Queen's Own Cameron Highlanders
Queen's Own Cameron Highlanders - War Diary for 16 June 1915
Another attempt was planned for the following day, Wednesday 16 June 1915, at 4.45am. As George's Battalion occupied the trenches in support, German artillery caused thirty casualties as recorded in the war diary shown above. George was one of those 'casualties', blown to pieces by an enemy shell aged 19yrs. He has no know grave and is commemorated at Le Touret Memorial, France. The second day's attack was again a complete failure. British soldiers were mown down by German machine gun and rifle fire.

The Hunts Post published several pieces about George's death. The contents of a letter confirming his death was published on 25 June 1915, with more details on  2 July 1915. A further report and photograph were published on 9 July 1915.

George's younger brother, Harry, also fought at the Front, his letter telling of tough conditions published on 24 December 1915.

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Source materials
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