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  • photo originally published in the Worksop Guardian and now in the Borough of Worksop Roll of Honour of the Great War 1914-1918 in Worksop Library.
Person Details
Shireoaks, Notts
George Henry Towell born Shireoaks 1886 the son of John and Sarah Ann Towell. John died before George was born. George moved to Worksop where he worked at Shireoaks Colliery, married Kate Bellamy of John Street, Worksop in 1909, and had two children before the war.
01 Jul 1916
29
185337 - CWGC Website
6696
Lance Corporal
A Coy 11th Bn Sherwood Foresters (Notts & Derby Regiment)
He was killed on the first day of the Somme. Battalions attacking Ovillers on 1st July 1916 had to cross 'Mash Valley' one of the widest expanses of No Man's Land (750 yards) along the entire Somme front. Today, looking from Ovillers Cemetery (German front line) towards distant houses (British front line) across open fields offering little cover, the magnitude of their task is still evident. 11th Battalion Sherwood Foresters' War Diary recorded: 'Casualties along the whole line were very heavy and a general attempt was made to crawl forward under intense machine gun and shrapnel fire, any available cover being made use of.... Lt Colonel Watson, walking diagonally across the front collecting men as he went gave fresh impetus to the advance by his personal example... A third attempt, led by Captain C E Hudson*, to reach the German trenches by the sunken road on the right flank was made but... was brought to a standstill by heavy frontal and flank fire as they came over the brow of the hill in the last 80 yards. The casualties sustained by the battalion during the day amounted to 21 officers and 508 men. The strength of the battalion on entering the trenches on 26th June was 27 officers and 710 men.' 11th Bn Sherwood Foresters War Diary TNA WO95/21871(3). 125 men from 11th Battalion Sherwood Foresters were killed during the attack on Ovillers (CWGC Debt of Honour Register). *John Cotterill, custodian of the Sherwood Foresters archives, adds 'The man who brought the 11th Foresters out of action on 1 July and, one of the 6 unwounded officers, was Capt Edward Hudson who would go on to get a VC as CO of 11th Foresters on Asiago Plateau in Italy in 1918'. 2nd Battalion Middlesex Regiment suffered 264 fatalities during the same advance. Concerns of their CO Lieutenant Colonel Edward Thomas Falkiner Sandys DSO, a brave and well respected officer, that his battalion would be badly mauled crossing such an expanse of open ground with uncut wire an added hazard, did not impress his superiors. Sandys was wounded during the attack and evacuated to the UK. Depressed at the fate of so many men who had trusted him, Sandys shot himself in a London hotel room and died a few days later. 8th Division's Official History records a total of 5,121 casualties on 1st July 1916. Military Research by David Nunn
Worksop Guardian 21 July 1916 “Another Worksop man to make the great sacrifice is Pte George Harry Towell, A Coy, 11 Batt. Sherwood Foresters, official news of whose death has been received by his wife, Mrs Towell, 25 John Street. So far details are lacking, but it would seem he took part in the great push. In a letter dated July 12th to Mrs Towell, CMS Dyer says:-“ Just a few lines, sending my very deepest sympathies in your irreparable loss. May the Lord Who watcheth over us tend you in your sad bereavement. Your husband died doing his duty as a soldier. He was carrying wounded out from the battlefield when he himself was hit. I am returning the photo of your three darling bairns, and may they live and grow up to know that their dad died for the cause of suppressing the iron hand of oppression. Again please accept my deepest sympathy.” Before the war, Towell was employed as a painter by the Shireoaks Colliery Co., in which capacity he was well known and respected. He was 29 years of age and had been in France since last August. He was at home on leave at Christmas last, and again five weeks ago. He was a good soldier and a true comrade. Mush sympathy is expressed to his widow and little ones. Mrs Towell has received the following letter from the Chaplain Rev. A E N Hitchcock;- “11th Sherwood Foresters, B.E.F., Dear Mrs Towell, I am sorry to tell you that your husband, Pte G Towell, 6699, 11th Sherwood Foresters, died in hospital of wounds received in action during the attack on July 1st. The Battalion suffered heavy losses at that time, and the list of casualties is scarcely yet complete, otherwise you would have been informed before. The colonel and most of the officer’s who took part in the attack, were also wounded, so I have taken it upon myself to communicate this news to you. With sincere sympathy.” Blighty Valley Cemetery, Authuillewood, France. Research by Colin Dannatt
Remembered on

Photos

  • photo originally published in the Worksop Guardian and now in the Borough of Worksop Roll of Honour of the Great War 1914-1918 in Worksop Library.
    George Henry Towell - photo originally published in the Worksop Guardian and now in the Borough of Worksop Roll of Honour of the Great War 1914-1918 in Worksop Library.
  • Buried in Blighty Valley Cemetery
    George Henry Towell - Buried in Blighty Valley Cemetery
  • Photo taken from German machine gun positions (now Ovillers British Military Cemetery) showing the terrain over which 8th Division including 11th Sherwood Foresters (70th Brigade), advanced on 1st July 1916. Houses beyond the distant tree line now stand on the 1st July 1916 British line.
    Photo David Nunn - Photo taken from German machine gun positions (now Ovillers British Military Cemetery) showing the terrain over which 8th Division including 11th Sherwood Foresters (70th Brigade), advanced on 1st July 1916. Houses beyond the distant tree line now stand on the 1st July 1916 British line.