Private George Glew, 11745, 6th Battalion, King's Own Yorkshire Light Infantry.
George Glew was born in Dewsbury in 1892. He was the eldest son of Agnes Exley (1868-1936) and Thomas Glew (1866-1922) who were married by certificate on Christmas Day 1889 at Agnes's parish church, St Peter's in Earlsheaton. They both gave their address as Earlsheaton but by the time the 1891 census was taken they were living in Dewsbury in the home of Thomas's father, William Glew, at 13 Elmwood Street - part of a self contained community that everyone knew as the Flatts. Thomas was employed transporting goods by cart or wagon whilst Agnes worked in one of the nearby woollen mills.
Agnes and Thomas were to have eight children together; their second son William Henry was born in August 1893, just a year after George. They were to experience the heartbreaking loss of an infant when their son Tom, who was born in 1896, died at around the time of the birth of their only daughter Elsie who arrived in October 1898. Perhaps in an attempt to remove themselves from the sadness of their loss, Thomas took a job as a mineral water salesman and he and Agnes moved their family to Dale Street, Ossett where their son Fred was born in February 1901.
The Glews lived in Ossett for only a brief period and by the time their next son, Alfred, was born in 1903 they were living at 24, Boundary Road, Dewsbury Moor. Thomas had returned to his earlier occupation and was employed transporting goods for one of the several dyeworks located in the area. Two more sons were born: Harry in 1907 and Norman in 1909.
On June 14th 1913, George Glew married by certificate Gladys Parlar at Holy Trinity Church, Batley Carr. George, who was 21 years old, was employed as a spinner and he gave his address as 25, Wood Hill, Batley Carr; this was identical to the address of his 18 year old bride. Their daughter Edith was born in December that same year.
A year later on August 4 1914 Great Britain declared war on the German Empire.
Kitchener's call for half a million volunteers was answered in the West Riding by the raising, between August and October 1914, of the 6th, 7th, 8th, 9th, 10th and 12th King's Own Yorkshire Light Infantry Service Battalions. Officers and men from the Regular Battalions were drafted in to train and lead them and by the end of 1915 all except the 12th Battalion (who served initially in Egypt) were in the trenches in France.
George and his brother William Henry both served with the 6th Battalion, King's Own Yorkshire Light Infantry (K.O.Y.L.I.). George's service record appears to not have survived. When war broke out the British Army numbered just over 730,000 men. By the end of the war more than seven million men and women had seen service but unfortunately, more than half of their service records were destroyed in September 1940 when a German bombing raid struck the War Office repository in Arnside Street, London. However, an estimated 2.8 million service records survived the bombing or were reconstructed from the records of the Ministry of Pensions. This means that there is a roughly 40% chance of finding the service record of a soldier who was discharged at some time between 1914 and 1920.1
The service record of Private William Henry Glew has been reconstructed and it reveals that he was just shy of his 19th birthday when he enlisted with the King's Own Yorkshire Light Infantry (K.O.Y.L.I.) at Dewsbury on August 7th 1914. Three days later he was posted to the 6th Battalion. We do not know when George joined the 6th battalion but one might suppose that the two brothers enlisted together. Whilst George continued his training at Witley and Aldershot, William Henry got no further than Witley where it was discovered that he had a heart strain. His army service was short lived and he was discharged on November 27th 1914 after being found medically unfit.
From George's Medal Card Index we know that he was awarded not only the British and Victory Medals but also the 1914-15 Star. To qualify for this medal service personnel had to have served overseas in a theatre of war prior to December 31st 1915. The index records May 21st 1915 as the date that George joined the war in France.
George died on September 19th 1915 from severe wounds he received on the battlefield. He died at the 43rd Field Ambulance Station at Ypres after a shell exploded and both his legs were blown away.
The Field Ambulance was a mobile front line medical unit (it was not a vehicle), manned by troops of the Royal Army Medical Corps. Most Field Ambulances came under command of a Division, and each had special responsibility for the care of casualties of one of the Brigades of the Division. The theoretical capacity of the Field Ambulance was 150 casualties, but in battle many would need to deal with very much greater numbers. The Field Ambulance was responsible for establishing and operating a number of points along the casualty evacuation chain, from the Bearer Relay Posts which were up to 600 yards behind the Regimental Aid Posts in the front line, taking casualties rearwards through an Advanced Dressing Station (ADS) to the Main Dressing Station (MDS). It also provided a Walking Wounded Collecting Station, as well as various rest areas and local sick rooms. Without the Field Ambulance many of those wounded would not have been recovered from the battlefields.2
Private George Glew, 11745, 6th Battalion, King's Own Yorkshire Light Infantry was buried at Ypres Reservoir Middle Cemetery, but in August 1921 the cemetery was cleared and all those interred there were reinterred at the largest cemetery within Ypres, which is the Ypres Reservoir Cemetery in the north-west of the town. This was located next to an Advanced Dressing Station and is where many casualties transferred from the front lines were buried.
Above: Private George Glew's grave at Ypres Reservoir Cemetery Ypres (Ieper), Arrondissement Ieper, West Flanders (West-Vlaanderen), Belgium.
Gladys Glew married Martin Walsh in 1921 and together they had a son, John. The 1939 register recorded them living at Frances Road, Dewsbury. One name is redacted which is most likely their son John. A fourth person was living in the household. His name was Walter Glew and he was born on May 8th 1917. Gladys Walsh, formerly Glew, née Parlar died in Dewsbury in 1952.
My thanks to Anne-Marie Fawcett for this biography of Private George Glew who briefly lived in Ossett. He is remembered on the Dewsbury Cenotaph in Crow's Nest Park in Dewsbury and his name was added to the Ossett War Memorial in 2022.