Biddulph & District Genealogy & Historical Society Biddulph Grange

Biddulph and the Great War

'There Shall Be In That Rich Earth A Richer Dust Concealed'

'We Will Remember Them'

Private George William Mawdesley

7188, 1st Bn., Scots Guards died October 7th 1914 Age 24

Died of wounds October 7th 1914

On the October 24th 1914 the Sentinel reported the death of Private George William Mawdesley as “the second officer the County Borough Police Force has lost in the war” and the “first Biddulph man to be mortally wounded in action.” Shock waves must have echoed round the parish of Biddulph with the news of his death. The Chronicle stated: “though the grim realities of war have been deeply impressed on the minds of Biddulph people by the fact of so many Biddulph men having left the town to serve their King and country, the direful results of the nation’s call to arms have been brought closer to home to many in Biddulph by the sad news of the death in hospital of George William Mawdesley, a private in the Scots Guards.”

Although George was not a Biddulph man (born in Southport in 1890) he had married Biddulph girl Harriett Finney on Christmas Day 1911 at St. Lawrence. Harriett was the daughter of the late Samuel Finney of Station Road. Their marriage entry in the Parish Register described George as a labourer of Well Street, however, prior to his marriage George had served in the Army. On leaving his regiment he had obtained employment at Chatterley Whitfield Colliery where he lost a finger in a pit accident. He applied for the post of steward at the Biddulph Unionist Club and newspaper reports state that “his credentials from his regiment bore eloquent testimony to the esteem in which he was held by his officers and comrades.” He was a popular young man and was eagerly accepted by the local community: “very popular amongst a host of friends by a quiet and unassuming demeanour that endeared him to all with whom he came in contact.”

In October 1913 he joined the Stoke-on-Trent police force where he was employed as a “plain clothes officer and assistant shops inspector.” Although only employed with the force for a short time “Mawdesley’s conduct was such as to gain alike the confidence of his superiors and the respect of his comrades.”

Buried at Vendresse Churchyard, Picardie, France and commemorated on both the St. Lawrence churchyard cross and memorial board and also on the Biddulph cenotaph. However, his surname was inscribed as ‘Maudesley’ on the local memorials.

Harriett Mawdesley was informed of her husband’s death by a letter from an officer of the Scots Guards which was delivered to her by Mr. R.J.Carter, Chief Constable of Stoke-on-Trent. The letter “did not intimate where Mawdesley met with his wounds or their nature, but it stated that the officers and men of the battalion were extremely sorry at losing him. He was of a type they could ill afford to lose. Mrs. Mawdesley, the letter stated, would have the satisfaction of knowing that her husband was a brave soldier. Mawdesley was a fine, stalwart young man, just turned 24 years of age, and although it is some comfort to the bereaved ones to know that he died the death of a soldier, it is sad to think of the promising life suddenly cut off so young.”

Elaine Heathcote

A list of all the medals awarded to the men of the Biddulph area has been compiled and can be viewed here.


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