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Person Details
He was the son of George and Annie Aked and the brother of Alice Theodora Aked. In 1905, they lived 6 Beeston Road, Old Lenton Nottingham. By time of death the family lived at 105, Tavistock Drive, Mapperley Park. Aked's father is entered as being a Lawyer’s Clerk in 1905.
05 Mar 1915
92354 - CWGC Website
5th Bn Leicestershire Regiment
In the Nottingham Guardian on Friday 19th March 1915 under a heading of “Tribute to a Young Notts Officer” Aked is described as being among those who have had to make the “supreme sacrifice”. His memorial service was held on 18th March 1915 at Holy Trinity Church (no longer in existence). The officer died while doing his duty in the trenches. The service was attended by a detachment of the Yorks and Lancs Regiment, members of the University OTC and the High School where Aked had been a cadet. His life is described as one of “moral courage and steadfastness”. A telegram from the King and Queen was read out and, also a letter from Colonel Jones, commander of 5th Leicesters. The royal message read, “The King and Queen deeply regret the loss you and the army have sustained by the death of your son. Their majesties truly sympathise with you in your sorrow”. Colonel Jones wrote, “We have lost in him an officer of much promise. He had developed very rapidly since he joined us. He was extraordinarily conscientious in his work and everything his duty called him to do he did faithfully, thoroughly and well. Our sympathies go out to you and all at home. We feel very deeply for you. May it be a consolation to you that he died at his duty and in the most honourable way a man can die.” The Nottingham Daily Express on 11th March 1915 reported “Nottingham Lieutenant Killed”, “Shot in trenches a week after landing in France”. He is described as being educated at NHS, serving two and a half years with the OTC. “On the raising of a new company at Shepshed (where he held an appointment at the Nottingham and Notts Bank) he was gazetted 2nd Lieutenant on 19th November 1912 and posted to a new company which he in part raised and as the only resident officer trained. He was promoted Lieutenant in August last. Landing in France on February 25th, he entered the first line of trenches and was killed on the 5th inst”. Age, 19 and 11 months. In the personal column of the paper there is a reference to his death, with the sentiment “where duty calls”. In the Daily Express on 19th March 1915 the memorial service is dealt with extensively. He is described as being connected to Holy Trinity Church since “boyhood”. There is a description of his “tragic” end on the 8th night after entering the trenches. He was carrying out certain duties under the cover of darkness “when the moon suddenly burst forth and he fell victim to a German sniper”. People attending were:- the NHS OTC, the University OTC, the Yorks and Lancs territorials stationed in Nottingham, Mr and Mrs Aked (parents), Miss Aked (sister) and Mr and Mrs Sargent. Also, Councillor and Mrs D. McCraith, representatives of the Bank and colleagues. The pulpit was draped with a Union Jack, another flag covering the bier on which Lieutenant Aked’s helmet and sword rested. The service was described as “impressive”. The congregation sang “Now the Labourer’s task is O’er” and “Brief Life is here our Portion”. Canon Holbrook addressed the congregation on “Why stand we in jeopardy every hour”. The telegram from the King and Queen and the letter from Colonel Jones were read out. The service closed with the Dead March from “Saul”. The Evening News also wrote about the death and the service under a heading of “Scholar to Teacher”. In Martin Middlebrook’s informative book, “Captain Staniland’s Journey: The North Midland Territorials Go to War” it is possible to trace George Aked’s final days. The 46th North Midland Division, which included his battalion, landed at Le Havre in the last days of February 1915. Shortly before embarkation, on 25th February 1915 to be precise, the whole division had been inspected by the King. By this stage the Battle of Neuve Chapelle was being planned and the whole of the North Midland Division moved south, standing by to be a force of pursuit if the German line at Neuve Chapelle should be captured. Apparently, it was believed that raw, fresh troops were better suited to this role because they hadn’t been tainted by the static nature of trench warfare. The North Midland Division was not required at Neuve Chapelle and was moved back north so that they could have a gentler introduction to the frontline. They were billeted around Ploegsteert, ‘Plugstreet’ to the soldiers, in Belgium. The new battalions were attached in platoons to more experienced battalions of the 4th Division. The first fatal casualty in the 46th North Midland Division was suffered by 1/5th Leicesters when “Lieutenant George Aked was hit in the head by a stray bullet while with 2nd Essex on 5th March, his first day in the trenches, and died.” The territorials of the 5th Leicesters were sometimes referred to as ‘Saturday night soldiers’ prior to the war because, of course, they were part-time and, reputedly met on a Saturday night to drill. In the case of the Shepshed Company, they were based at the Drill Hall on King’s Road, Shepshed. Most of the men who made up the company were drawn from the town’s hosiery and shoe making factories. As the start of the First World War approached the 5th Leicesters on Monday 3rd August 1914 were camped at Bridlington where Shepshed’s ‘G’ Company and the other companies of the battalion were attending their annual camp. At 5 a.m. they were ordered to break camp, with Lieutenant Aked and his NCOs having to work hard to dismantle tents, field kitchens etc. The camp was alive with war rumours, perhaps unsurprisingly. ‘G’ Company arrived back in Shepshed at 5 a.m. on Tuesday 4th August and a few hours later Britain and Germany were at war. On Friday 7th August ‘G’ Company with Aked as one of their officers, left Shepshed. First they paraded in a field behind the Catholic Church on Pick Street where they were photographed by a local photographer. Then they marched down to the Market Place and from there to Loughborough where the whole 5th Leicestershire battalion assembled. The first company of territorials raised in Shepshed came into being in 1912, initially with 50 recruits. They participated that year in the battalion’s summer camp at Aberystwyth. George Aked was one of the founding officers as he worked in a bank in the town and had already been in the OTC in Nottingham. In 1913 the company had its summer camp at Denton Park, Grantham and by this time numbered 70, with a further 42 joining over the next 12 months. At the outbreak of war ‘G’ Company numbered 72 men, mainly from Belton, Whitwick, Breedon-on-the-Hill and Castle Donington. After arriving at Loughborough, ‘G’ Company were billeted in the local Church Gate Schools. On the following Tuesday, 11th, the entire territorial battalion 5th Leicesters paraded in Loughborough Market Place where a patriotic address was delivered by the Lord Mayor. After this the whole battalion was entrained for Duffield, Derbyshire. Here they were asked how many would be prepared to volunteer for service abroad, as they were only obliged to serve at home. 70% initially agreed to change their terms of service (many of the men were farm workers worried about getting in the harvest). When the question was put again, however, on 17th August 90% agreed to serve overseas. From Duffield the battalion travelled to Luton, initially being billeted in schools, but then billeted with ordinary West Luton householders, each ground floor room involved receiving a billet of four men. Householders received 9d. a day per man, around 20s. each week if four men were billeted, so a nice little earner at that time! In early November 1914, while 5th Leicesters were at Luton, the usual morning parade was abruptly cancelled and orders to assemble in full marching order given. Hasty farewells were taken between the soldiers and their adopted families on whom they had been billeted and parting postcards written and sent. Despite expectations, however, they were only marched to a field to be inspected before returning to billets. Whilst they were stationed at Luton they were inspected by Lord Kitchener and George V. On 26th November the 5th Leicesters moved to new billets in Hertfordshire at Sawbridgeworth, where training continued with the emphasis on developing the techniques of trench warfare. The arduaous bouts of trench digging were interspersed with recreational activities, including boxing, football and dancing. On Christmas Day 1914 the battalion celebrated with a big feast at which officers, as tradition demanded, waited on the men, who were organised by companies into eight separate rooms. The commanding officer, Major Martin, toured the parties, drinking the health of each company in turn. ‘G’ Company from Shepshed, Aked’s Company, were the 7th stop en route! Whilst 5th Leicesters were at Sawbridgeworth a drastic re-organisation of the eight companies of the battalion saw four larger companies formed. Shepshed’s ‘G’ Company were amalgamated with ‘C’ Company. At noon on 25th February 1915 orders were finally received for the battalion to entrain at Harlow. They left Harlow at midnight, bound for France. After arriving at Southampton Docks, they were embarked in the afternoon of 26th February onto the steamship “SS Atalanta” and this ship, together with several others, left Southampton at 9 p.m. for Le Havre. Out at sea the flotilla were lashed by a fierce storm, no doubt causing much seasickness. Some of the ships were forced to return to port. However, the Shepshed men made it to Le Havre. Immediately on arrival they were ordered to march up a steep hill, carrying full packs, to reach a ‘rest camp’, namely a hastily erected line of tents in a muddy field. Considering it was winter, muddy and inclement, this was hardly comfortable accommodation. On 28th February, however, the men were issued with a sheepskin coat and an extra pair of woollen socks, courtesy of Queen Mary. At 7pm on 28th the Leicesters entrained once more for a journey northwards, but the French railways underestimated the size of the train required and two platoons were compelled to wait behind until additional transportation could be organised. The train consisted of closed, draughty livestock wagons, each providing accommodation for forty men or eight horses. Prior to departure, a certain Mrs. Pitt and her ‘English ladies’ treated the men to tea and buns, ‘a welcome but insufficient sustenance for the following twelve hours that took the battalion via Rouen to Abbeville.’ At Abbeville, six large cauldrons of hot tea were prepared, but unfortunately due to a lack of forethought the men in the furthest carriages only got lukewarm tea at best on that cold night. The train continued via Boulogne, Calais and St Omer until at 2.35 p.m. the next day it arrived at the village of Arneke, close to the Franco-Belgium border. The 5th Leicesters then detrained in a howling blizzard and after forming up in columns marched the five miles to their new billets in the village of Hardifort. They arrived at Hardifort in total darkness and had to wait in the cold until their names were called so that they could be led by a local youth to their billet, either a barn or, if lucky, a local farmhouse. Most slept wrapped in their blankets and great coats on the straw. Officers would have probably had better accommodation. On 4th March, the Shepshed men of ‘C’ Company entered the line north of Armentieres to begin their induction into the routines of trench warfare. They were hosted by a battalion of the Essex Regiment, with each Leicester soldier placed between two experienced regulars as platoons took it in turns to man the front line. The sector ‘Plugstreet (Ploegsteert) to Le Touquet Station’ had gained a reputation as a quiet sector and only the report of intermittent rifle fire betrayed the presence of the enemy across No Man’s Land. Unfortunately, after a few hours in the line close to the village of Le Bizet, the first casualties of 5th Leicesters were reported. Just short of his twentieth birthday, Lieutenant George Aked was killed ‘by a stray bullet’, depriving the Shepshed contingent of their young leader and mentor. George Aked had been the only resident officer at Shepshed, having moved from Nottingham in 1911 to take up a position at the Nottingham and Notts Bank, and had taken responsibility for training ‘G’ Company since its formation in 1912. George had already served two and a half years in the OTC at Nottingham High School and had received his commission when only seventeen and a half years of age. Later he was promoted to Lieutenant, on 30th August 1914. The commanding officer of the 5th Leicesters, Lieutenant Colonel Jones wrote: ‘We have lost in him an officer of much promise. He had developed very rapidly since he joined us. He was extraordinarily conscientious in his work, and everything his duty called him to do he did faithfully, thoroughly and well.’ Research Simon Williams
Remembered on