Private George Arthur Beaumont, 307241, Duke of Wellington's (West Riding) Regiment, 1st/7th Battalion
George Arthur Beaumont was born in Ossett on the 21st of April 1888, the son of Ossett born Henry Newton Beaumont, a warehouseman from Dale Street, and his wife Emma (nee White) who was also born in Ossett. The couple had married in 1881 in the Dewsbury Registration District. George, who was baptised at Ossett Holy Trinity Church on the 1st June 1890, was one of eight children: three boys and five girls born between 1882 and 1902. His younger sister Selina was baptised on the same day.
In 1891, the family were living in Dale Street, Ossett but in the late 1880s they had moved to New Park Street, Morley where Henry Beaumont worked as a manager in a rag and mungo warehouse.
By 1902, the Beaumont family had returned to Ossett and were living at 9, Back Lane, Ossett. Henry and Emma Beaumont plus their two boys and three girls, aged between 9 and 22 years of age, were living in the 3 roomed home. Henry was a manager in a rag and mungo business. George and his younger brother, Willie, were now both warehousemen. The eldest girl, aged 15, was a sorter of woollen rags. At least five of the children died under the age of 30 and pre-deceased their parents, who both died in 1923 at their home at 9, Back Lane, Ossett.
The 1st/7th Battalion of the Duke of Wellington's (West Riding) Regiment was form in August 1914 at Milnsbridge, Huddersfield and was part of the 2nd West Riding Brigade, West Riding Division. They moved on mobilisation to coastal defences near Hull and Grimsby then again on the 5th of November 1914 to billets in Doncaster. On the 14th April 1915, they landed at Boulogne in France and on the 15th of May 1915 the formation became 147th Brigade in 49th (West Riding) Division.
In late 1917 the 49th (West Riding) Division was redeployed to the Ypres Salient in Belgium and before that they were involved in Operation Hush, the planned Allied landing on the Belgian coast in July 1917. However, it is likely that in April 1917, Private Beaumont was not involved in any specific battle, but lost his life when manning the line in a random attack or by sniper fire.
The "Ossett Observer" 1 had this obituary for George Beaumont:
"Several local men have fallen in the recent fighting on the Western Front. Mr. and Mrs. H.N. Beaumont, of Ventnor-cottages, Back-lane, Ossett, on Saturday morning received a letter from an Ossett soldier, conveying the sad news that their elder son, Private George Arthur Beaumont (29), had lost his life in the country's service. The deceased was well-known, and before joining the army worked at Burrows' rag warehouse, at Victoria Mills, South Ossett, having previously been employed by Messrs. Elwand Smith and Co., Queen-street. He used to be a member of Ossett Temperance Institute and the football club connected with it. It was in February 1916 that he 'joined up' and he embarked for the fighting area after eleven weeks' of training. A younger brother, Willie, is serving in France.
The soldier who forwarded the information of Private Beaumont's death said that he was within a few yards of him when he was killed. Deceased was on sentry duty at the time about six o'clock in the evening of Thursday, April 5th, and death was instantaneous. The writer adds that he saw him before he was taken to his last resting place, and that he was buried in a small cemetery, behind the line, on the morning following his death. He adds: 'It is hard to think that so many local lads have been lost in the conflict. I had the pleasure of knowing him in civil life, and might say that army life had not altered him any. He was just the same'."
Private Beaumont is buried at grave reference IV. F. 6. at the St. Vaast Post Military Cemetery 3, Richebourg-l'Avoue, Pas de Calais, France. The cemetery lies near the village of Richebourg-l'Avoue which is 9 kilometres north-east of Bethune.
The village of Richebourg-L'Avoué was held by British forces from the autumn of 1914 until it was overrun by German units advancing west during the great Spring Offensive in April 1918. It was recaptured by Commonwealth soldiers in September 1918 and remained in Allied hands until the end of the war. The village was less than two kilometres from the front-lines trenches and was routinely shelled by German artillery.
During the Battle of Festubert in May 1915, British soldiers began burying their fallen comrades in an old orchard near a forward dressing station which was located at the terminus of a trench tramway between the hamlet of Richebourg St. Vaast and La Croix Barbet. The cemetery was used by fighting units serving in the front-line and field ambulances until July 1917 and is the final resting place of over 70 men of the South Downs Pals battalion who were killed at the Battle of Boar’s Head on 30 June 1916. In April and May 1918, the Germans buried 90 of their dead in the south-east end of the cemetery and in September and October 1918, 18 British soldiers killed during the final Allied advance were laid to rest in Plot V. There are now almost 800 soldiers of the First World War buried or commemorated at St. Vaast Post, including over 90 German burials. Special memorials have been erected to three British soldiers buried in the cemetery whose graves cannot now be traced.
George's younger brother, Willie Beaumont was born in Ossett in 1894. Like George Beaumont, he served in the Army. At the age of 22 years and 10 months, Willie Beaumont, a rag shaker, enlisted on the 1st October 1916 and became Private 37816 in the York and Lancaster Regiment.
He was posted to the 3rd Battalion on the 26th October 1916 and sailed for France on the 10th January 1917 where he served until the 18th June 1917 when he returned to England. His next of kin was given as Mrs Emma Beaumont, 9, Ventnor Cottages, Back Lane, Ossett. On the 3rd August 1917, he was diagnosed with tubercle of the lungs, caused by active service and discharged on medical grounds.
On the 3rd October 1917 he was awarded the Certificate & Badge issued to serving soldiers who had been discharged on medical grounds. His home address on discharge was 9, Ventnor Cottages, Back Lane Ossett. Willie was also awarded a weekly pension of 27/6d which was to be reviewed in 26 weeks. Like his brother, George Arthur, he was awarded the British and Victory Medals. However, unlike George Arthur, he survived to see his home again.
Sadly Willie Beaumont died in April 1922, at the age of 28. He was buried on 15th April 1922 at Ossett Holy Trinity Church just six days before George Arthur would have been 34. A reminder that many of those who came home also gave their lives for their Country. The tragic circumstances in which Henry and Emma Beaumont had lost so many of their children, including two boys in the war, was too much to bear. Henry, aged 62, was buried at Ossett Holy Trinity Church on 19th February 1923 and his wife Emma, aged 61, was buried at the same Church on 24 November 1923.
1. "Ossett Observer", 29th April 1917