Private George William Bellwood. 1st Battalion, Grenadier Guards. Service number: 24897.
George was born in Boston, Lincolnshire in 1894, registered in the second quarter of the year. His parents were William Bellwood, and Annie Bellwood née Missin. William was a traction engine driver and later a farmer.
In the 1901 census, George was seven and living at Union Lane, Rothley near Boston in Lincolnshire with his parents and siblings Lucy aged 11, Edith aged 4, Walter aged 3 and Annie aged 1.
The children were born in various counties, which suggests they were moving around quite a lot, probably so William could find work.
By 1911 William and Annie had moved with their family to Lower Pitcher Clough at Oldfield near Oakworth in the West Riding of Yorkshire and William was working as a farmer and domestic labourer. George was a 17 year old farm hand still living with his parents, plus his siblings Walter, Annie, Alice, Sidney and Albert. Lucy having left home by this time.
George appears to have been working on 'banking' at Sladen Valley waterworks and Lower Laithe Dam. This was heavy work, digging ditches and banking the earth up either side, probably for drainage or to prepare for pipe laying. The first entry (no. 14 in the list) found is for 11th September 1911 when he was listed under 'banking' and the last entry (no. 30 in the list) for him in the wages books is for 2nd April 1914, when he worked a short week of 15 hours.
Regarding the first entry, there may be a missing wages ledger as work certainly began on the waterworks before this date, but as George was a cowhand in the 1911 census in April of that year, he probably began working at the waterworks some time between April and September 1914.
Police and War service:
He joined the West Riding Constabulary on 30th September 1914, badge no. 264. In the 1915 electoral roll he was living at 75, Elmfield Road, Doncaster and had been serving with the Police for eighteen months at Mexborough before enlisting in the 1st Battalion Grenadier Guards (so he enlisted around March 1917.)
By 1916 he had moved to 45, Askern Road, Bentley, Doncaster and was a 22 year old Private in the Grenadier Guards and a bachelor when he married Rhoda Binns on 1st November 1916 at St Michael and All Angels church in Haworth. Rhoda was a 23 year old worsted weaver and spinster living at 64, Stanbury. Her father was Joseph Binns and he was also a farmer, which may have been how George originally met Rhoda.
Keighley News 11th April 1916, page 7:
STANBURY - MILITARY WEDDING.
Stanbury's first military wedding took place at the Parish Church, Haworth, on Wednesday last, the Rev. T. W. Storey officiating. The contracting parties were Private George W. Bellwood, of the Grenadier Guards, formerly of Pitcher Clough Farm, near Stanbury and Miss Rhoda Binns, younger daughter of Mr and Mrs. Joseph Binns, Stanbury. Previous to joining the Army Mr. Bellwood was a member of the West Riding Constabulary, and was stationed at Mexborough. Soon after the outbreak of war he volunteered for active service.
George was 23 years old when he was shot by a German sniper on 12th October 1917, whilst trying to rescue a pal near the front line. His battalion was engaged in an attack on enemy lines at the time.
Keighley News, Saturday 10th November, 1917, page 3: HAWORTH AND STANBURY
Private George William Bellwood, of the Grenadier Guards, made the great sacrifice trying to rescue a "pal"near the front line of trenches. Formerly employed at the Sladen Valley Water Works, Private Bellwood subsequently joined the West Riding Constabulary, and was stationed in the south of Yorkshire. Exactly twelve months prior to his being shot by a German sniper he was married at the Haworth Parish Church, his fiancée being Miss Rhoda Binns, of Stanbury, daughter of Mr. Joseph Binns, farmer, of that village.
Mexborough and Swinton Times, 24th November 1917:
Private Bellwood formerly a police constable stationed at Mexboro' has beeen killed in action in France.
His home is at Bentley, Doncaster, but he came to Mexboro' from Halifax and was on the Police staff at Mexboro' for eighteen months, leaving Mexboro' to join the Army.
After the war:
George was posthumously awarded the British War Medal and the Victory Medal for his war service. His wife Rhoda will have received these along with a memorial plaque and a scroll bearing his name along with his back pay and a war gratuity of £8 and 10 shillings.
George's body was never found and he is commemorated by the Commonwealth War Graves Commission at Tyne Cot Memorial.
He is also remembered on the West Riding Police war memorial at Wakefield . He is remembered locally on the Stanbury and Oldfield war memorial at Stanbury Cemetery and on St Michael and All Angels Church war memorial in Haworth.
George's widow Rhoda was later awarded a war pension of 18 shillings and 9 pence per week beginning on 6th May 1918, although she wouldn't have received it for very long because she remarried, to former soldier Herbert Hinchcliffe, in the second quarter of 1919.
Rhoda died on 3rd January 1972 at the age of 79.
England and Wales, Civil Registration Birth Index, 1837-1915
1891 England Census
1901 England Census
1911 England Census
West Yorkshire, England, Police Records, 1833-1914
West Yorkshire, England, Electoral Registers, 1840-1962
England & Wales, Civil Registration Marriage Index, 1916-2005
West Yorkshire, England, Church of England Marriages and Banns, 1813-1935
British Army World War I Medal Rolls Index Cards, 1914-1920
World War I Service Medal and Award Rolls, 1914-1920
Soldiers Died in the Great War, 1914-1919
World War I Pension Ledgers and Index Cards, 1914-1923
Army Registers of Soldiers' Effects, 1901-1929
WO95/1223/1/2 War Diary extract of the 1st Battalion Grenadier Guards
Keighley News archives, held at Keighley library
Sladen Valley Waterworks wages ledgers, held at Keighley Library
West Riding Constabulary War Memorial 1914 -1918 1939 - 1945
Stanbury and Oldfield war memorial at Stanbury Cemetery
England & Wales, National Probate Calendar (Index of Wills and Administrations), 1858-1995