Sergeant George Peacock
10th Battalion Duke of Wellington's West Riding Regiment. Service no. 12120.
George was born in Darlington, Durham in the third quarter of 1893 to parents George and Jane Peacock. By 1901 he was seven and living at 10, Aire Street in Haworth with his parents and six brothers. His father George was a hoist minder at a woollen mill. On May 24, 1910 George enlisted as a Territorial soldier with the 6th Battalion West Riding Regiment at Haworth. He was just 17 years and 11 months and working as a mill hand for Merrall & Sons and by now was living at 1, Regent Street, Haworth with his family.
The medical he took on May 29 reports his height at 5 feet 6, 1/2 inches; chest 35 inches. His vision was good and he had a fair physique. He went on to train as a soldier with them and attended the annual two week training camp at Peel on the Isle of Man, between July 24 and August 7. By 1911 George was 18 and living at 1, Regent Street, Brow in Haworth with his parents and five brothers and he was a weaver for Merrall & Sons worsted mill. From July 30 to August 13, George attended annual Territorial Army training camp at Ripon and at Flamborough in 1912 and Aberystwyth in 1913. He discharged from his four year term of engagement on May 23 1914 at Skipton.
When war broke out he re-enlisted in September at Haworth which was mentioned in the Keighley News as he had joined with a group of lads.
Keighley News December 14, 1918 page 5:
PATRIOTIC HAWORTH LADS.
Lance-Corporal Louis Feather, son of Mr. B. H. Feather, 11, Sun Street, Haworth, has been awarded the Military medal for gallantry in the fighting on the Piave, in Italy, in the latter part of September.
The certificate accompanying the distinction, signed by the Lieutenant-colonel, states that "in the attack on the enemy lines when in charge of an advanced post he caused many casualties among the enemy parties advancing and brought about the surrender of a party hidden in shell holes in front of his position." Lance-corporal Feather is one of the thirteen patriotic Haworth lads - all under 24 years of age - who joined Kitchener's Army at Keighley on September 30, 1914. They were placed, with their own consent, in a service battalion of the West Riding Regiment, which was just filling up, and their record is a story of honourable service and voluntary sacrifice. Six of them have been promoted to N.C.O.'s, and the Military Medal has been conferred on two. Eleven of the thirteen have figured in the casualty lists, and no fewer than eight lie buried in the lands they helped to save - France and Belgium.
Their names are Private Seth Bancroft, Lance-corporal Robert Sugden, Lance-corporal J. W. Parker, Acting Lance-corporal Albert Hands, Sergeant G. Peacock, Private Fred Greenwood, Private Jonas Snowden and Private Tom Feather, M.M.
By August 1915, he was an acting Corporal with the 10th Battalion West Riding Regiment based at Bramshott Camp near Southampton. They entrained at Liphook Station on August 23, going to Folkestone for the crossing and arriving in Boulogne, France on August 26. George was also mentioned in the newspaper after Seth Bancroft had been killed as he wrote to Seth's parents.
Keighley News October 2, 1915 page 7 :
HAWORTH SOLDIER'S DEATH.
Mr. and Mrs. Bancroft of Prince Street, Haworth, have received word from the lieutenant in command that their son. Private Seth Bancroft, of the 10th Service Battalion Duke of Wellington's Regiment, was shot in the head during the fighting from 4 to 9 o'clock on Saturday morning. He was removed to hospital, but died at 5 o'clock in the afternoon. From a letter since received from Private George Peacock, it appears that he and Private Bancroft were on sentry duty together, when a German shell, evidently before it reached its destination exploded in the trench, and struck Bancroft.
George served continuously until 1917 when he was a Sergeant on the front line near 'Railway Dugouts' when the British attack began. Our mines at 'Hill 60' and 'The Caterpillar' exploded under the German lines at 3:10 am and George went over the top shortly after. He was wounded and evacuated to the rear but died of his wounds on the way back to the dressing station.
Keighley News July 21, 1917 page 3: HAWORTH.
Mr and Mrs George Peacock, of Regent Street, Haworth, after having been informed by the War Office that their son, Sergeant George Peacock, was reported as wounded and posted as missing after the engagement on June 7 (Messines Ridge), have now had notice that he was killed. His platoon commander, in a letter to Mrs. Peacock, says that he and the sergeant went over the top side by side and out into No Man's Land. Before reaching the German trenches he was wounded, and on returning to the dressing station he was killed. A cross was put over his grave. The writer adds: "He is a great loss to me, in fact, he was my right hand man. To all of the officers and men of this company he was very popular. He died fighting for his country and in the defence of England's shores. But, greater than this, your home. Please accept my deepest sympathy in your bereavement." Sergeant Peacock was one of three soldier brothers. As a Territorial he joined the West Riding Regiment in September, 1914, and went to France in 1915.
After the war, George's battlefield grave was located and reinterred to a concentration cemetery in January 1922. His remains were confirmed by his identification disc. George was re-interred in grave 39, row E, plot I of La Brique Military Cemetery No. 2, North of Ypres in Belgium.
George was awarded the 1914-15 Star, British War Medal and Victory Medal for his war service.
His father George died on April 10, 1918 and his mother Jane died on November 15, 1932.
Finding George in our records:
Originally our only photograph of George was a rather grainy Keighley News image from a scrapbook which looked like this:
We had been contacted by Caroline and Tim from Mill Hill Farm in Haworth, about a portrait photograph in a wooden frame which they had purchased from a Keighley second-hand shop and they wondered if we might be able to identify him?
After going through almost our whole archive of 2200 newspaper photographs, we found the above picture of Sergeant George Peacock.
On comparing the two images we thought he was indeed the same man. The slight difference in pose was a bit of an issue, but the consensus from everyone who looked at this was that these photos were of the same man and indeed, were likely to have been taken in the same photographic session.
Caroline and Tim very kindly consented to us scanning the original portrait photograph and we have reproduced it here. Now George's portrait will hang in their home, he is no longer an unknown man and this will be complemented with a copy of the research we have done on him.