Private George Crompton

2071 Royal Munster Fusiliers died March 29th 1918 Age 29

 

George was born in Kidsgrove in about 1887, the son of Elizabeth Crompton. Elizabeth married William James Moss at St. Lawrence, Biddulph, in 1889. George spent his childhood between his grandparents in Kidsgrove and his mother and step-father in Biddulph. In 1911 he was working as a miner and living with his aunt and uncle in Burslem. In 1914 George married Alice Smith at St. Lawrence in Biddulph. They quickly had three daughters, Rose born 1915, Zena Louise born 1916 and Gabrielle Sylvia born 1917.

It would appear that he went to work in the mines in Yorkshire because it was there that he enlisted within a few weeks of the start of the Great War on September 2nd 1914 at Wath-upon-Dearne, with regimental number 15044.

He later transferred to the 1st Battalion Royal Munster Fusiliers, a battalion that had served in Burma before the war and returned to England in January 1915, then in March the battalion were ordered to sail to Gallipoli. His medal card states that George joined them on July 9th 1915 in a replacement draft. They experienced terrible conditions, constant shelling and disease whilst fighting in the Dardanelles with actions in the battles at Krithia and Achi Baba Heights, until January 1916 when the whole division was withdrawn to Egypt.

In March 1916 the battalion sailed back to Marseilles, France and in May transferred to the 47th Brigade 16th Irish Division. This division first went to France in December 1915. The first major action for the 1st Royal Munster Fusiliers was the Battle of the Somme in July 1916, where the 16th Division captured the village of Guillemont following a bitter struggle with the loss of many brave men. Another action took the Fusiliers to Ginchy where again they came up against heavy machine gun fire and shelling with very heavy casualties.

The following year on June 7th 1917 George and his mates faced the enemy in the terrible battle at Messines Ridge and by July were fighting in the salient in the Third Battle of Ypres. Heavy bombardment and rain had left the ground in an appalling condition. The men struggled to gain ground in these squalid conditions and sustained many losses during their attack on Langemark. The division spent the winter holding their position in the salient enduring the cold frozen trenches. In these atrocious conditions the horses suffered as well as the men.

The spring of 1918 saw movement at the front when the enemy started their Spring Offensive on March 21st. The Royal Munster Fusiliers were fighting hard resisting this enemy attack in the Battle of St Quentin from the March 21st to the 23rd. At about the time of these actions George was seriously wounded. Unfortunately, without service records, only a brief account can be told of his treatment. George was taken from the battlefield to one of the military hospitals at Rouen. The army had up to twenty hospitals round town. Sadly on March 29th 1918 Private George Crompton at the age of twenty nine died from peritonitis as a result of his wounds. He rests in the St. Sever Cemetery Extension, a large cemetery at Rouen which served the many hospitals. He is also remembered on the Biddulph memorials.

The Staffordshire Weekly Sentinel of April 20th 1918 reported on his death: “Official information has been received by Mrs. Crompton, 10, Cross Street, Biddulph, that her husband Pte. George Crompton, Royal Munsters, died on March 29th of peritonitis. Pte. Crompton enlisted on September 2nd 1914 from Goldthorpe, Yorkshire, where he worked as a collier. He had seen much active service in the Dardenelles and Salonika. He went to France in 1917. Pte. Crompton, who leaves in addition to a widow, three little girls, was the eldest son of Mr. & Mrs. W.J. Moss, 2, Cromwell Street, Biddulph and is the second of their sons to sacrifice his life for his country. Mr. & Mrs. Moss have still a son serving in France, Staff Sergt. Myles Moss.”

The society has a copy of a photograph of two unknown Biddulph soldiers. From the Sentinel photograph of George along with that of his step brother Jack Moss, it would seem that we have now identified the men as George and his step bother.

Michael Turnock & Elaine Bryan.

 

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