GEORGE COOKE BATLEY

Private DM2/190606, 33rd Mechanical Transport Company, Royal Army Service Corps

Died 5th December 1918 aged 30

Buried Caudry British Cemetery, France

Son of Ben and Annie Batley

Lived Providence House, Blanket Hall Street, Heckmondwike


George was born in 1889.   His parents were Ben Batley and Annie Elizabeth (née Kneeshaw) who had married on 21 March 1893 in Lindley, Huddersfield.   Annie was from Slingsby near Malton, North Yorkshire.

Ben and Annie had seven children: Sarah born 1883; John 1885; Frederick 1887; George 1889; Ann 1891; Mary 1894 and Ben, 1897.  George attended Heckmondwike Secondary School (now Heckmondwike Grammar) and their home around this time was Providence House, Blanket Hall Street, Heckmondwike.  The family were prominent in the timber and coal business in Heckmondwike and father and sons all became members of the Amphibious Lodge of Freemasons.

George enlisted in August 1916 with the Army Service Corps (the ‘Royal’ was added in November 1918).  The prefix DM2 to his service number indicated that Private Batley was a Mechanical Transport Learner and is shown incorrectly as DMZ on some records.  He went to France in January 1917.  The 33rd Division was involved in major actions in 1917 and 1918 including the Arras Offensive; the 3rd Battle of Ypres and the Battle of the Lys.  At the Armistice on 11 November 1918, the Division was in the area of the River Sambre and the Forest of Mormal to the east of Cambrai.

Private Batley became ill and was taken to the 21st Casualty Clearing Station (CCS) based in Caudry, about 6 miles from what had been the front lines.  George died on the night of Thursday 5 December 1918 of bronchial pneumonia.   The chaplain later wrote to his parents saying…..’Your son was brought in ill with influenza on November 26. …….I have been laying his body to rest this afternoon.  Neat wooden crosses are always put upon the graves not long after burial, but his brother tells me that his unit will put up a cross of their own on your son’s grave'.  The 21st CCS was one of the many temporary mobile treatment units and had been in Caudry from 26 October 1918.

Remarkably Private Batley’s brother Ben, who had enlisted with the RASC on 21 September 1916, was able to visit him in hospital and attended his brother’s funeral in the Military Cemetery at Audencourt a short distance from the CCS.

As part of the process known as ‘concentration’ George’s remains were later moved from Audencourt to the British Cemetery at Caudry.  In 1920 his mother paid 11s 1d for a 38 letter inscription to be carved on his headstone: “His memory is ever dear to those he left behind”.  Private Batley was awarded the British War Medal, Victory Medal and is also commemorated on the Masonic Great War Roll of Honour.

In 1919 his father was sent a total of £13 13s 1d of outstanding pay and War Gratuity.  A further £3 1s 9d was paid in July 1920.  Probate for the sum of £951 8s 1d was granted to his father on 15 June 1921.{AG-011}

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