George Henry Hales was born in 1896 in Harriseahead (Staffs. BMD and censii), son of George Hales, a miner, and his wife Fanny, née Hodgkinson, although War records seem to indicate that he was born in Tipton, Staffs. In 1901 the family were living at 17, High Street, Newchapel and in 1911 they, along with 14-year-old George Henry, were at 6, Clare Street, Chapel Lane, Harriseahead. He was one of ten children, two of whom died young: seven girls and three boys. The British Legion gave George’s home address as 3, Albert (re-named as Terence) Street, Brindley Ford and added the information that George had attended Brindley Ford Schools.
It is not known when George Henry enlisted, in Stoke-on-Trent, although it is unlikely that he was already on the army reserve in view of his age. The regiment in which he served went to Flanders in the early months of the War. He served in the 1st Battalion Grenadier Guards, a unit attached to the 7th Division 20th Brigade, and embarked in the first week of October 1914 to cross the English Channel, landing at Zeebrugge. If he was with them, George would have been only 17 years old. He could, of course, have given a false age in order to enlist.
The division was initially used to help the Belgium army to evacuate from the enemy assault in the east of the country. They were then transferred to fight in the first Battle of Ypres, an action in which the Guards suffered heavy losses. The following year found the 7th Division in action in the battles of Neave Chapelle, Aubers Ridge and Festubert.
From August 1915 the 1st Grenadier Guards transferred to the newly formed Guards Division and saw action during October in the Battle of Loos. In 1916 George and his mates were bravely fighting in the Battle of the Somme with action at Flers, Courelette, Morval and the capture of Lesboeufs.
The German retreat to the Hindenburg Line commenced on March 14th 1917. It was during this action that George was wounded and at the aged of 22 he sadly died from his wounds on March 21st 1917.
George Henry Hales is at rest in the Grove Town Cemetery Meaulte. He is also commemorated on the Brindley Ford Memorial.
Elaine Bryan and Michael Turnock.