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  • Commonwealth War Graves Commission headstone in Kemmel Chateau Military Cemetery, France. Photograph courtesy of Murray Biddle.
Person Details
Kimberley Nottinghamshire
George Harold was the son of Fred and Maria Highfield (née Smith). Fred Highfield was born in Wellow, Ollerton, in 1847. In 1861 Fred was living in Wellow, apprenticed to John Day, a harness maker. Maria Smith was born in Beeston, Nottingham, in about 1860. They were married at Nottingham St Matthew on 23 July 1881 and had five childre, four of whom survived infancy: Bertha Emily b. 1883, Arthur Frederick b. 1885, George Harold b. 1891 and Fred Cholerton b. 1893. All the children were born in Kimberley. In 1891 Fred, a saddler, and Maria were living on Main Street, Kimberley, with their two children Bertha (8) and Arthur (6). George Harold was born later that year and Fred in 1893. By 1901 Fred, now retired, and Maria had moved to Ollerton and were living on the High Street. Only their two youngest children, Harold (9) and Fred (7) were in the home on the night of the census. Fred snr. died in Philadelphia, America, on 5 September 1904 although his home was still in Ollerton. His widow Maria moved to Nottingham and in 1911 was living at 120 Holme Road, West Bridgford, with her two sons, George a student teacher and Fred a chemist's apprentice. Also in the household was Maria's widowed sister, Sarah Ann Clay. A notice of George's death in the Nottingham Evening Post in July 1915 gives his last address in Nottingham as 12 Colwick Road, West Bridgford. George was an assistant master at Coalville Grammar School when he enlisted in 1914. A report of his death in the Coalville Times the following year said that he had only been at the school for a short time before the outbreak of war. Maria was living in Oakham at the time of George's death according to a newspaper report at the time. She later lived on London Road, Coalville, Leicestershire, and was living at the same address in 1921 when she applied for George's medals. Maria died in May 1939; she was then living with her married daughter, Bertha Allen, in Andover.
He was educated at Mundella School, Meadows, Nottingham. In 1911 he was a student teacher. He was a member of University College Nottingham OTC. George was a scout leader in West Bridgford and later at Coalville Grammar School where he was an assistant master. According to a newspaper report he had resigned from the grammar school having been accepted for a post as assistant master at a school in Whitley Bay but enlisted before he could take up the appointment.
04 Jul 1915
155156 - CWGC Website
Second Lieutenant
3rd Bn York and Lancaster Regiment
George was in the University College Nottingham OTC. He enlisted in the Sherwood Foresters (Notts and Derby Regiment) on the outbreak of war but was commissioned in the York and Lancaster Regiment in November 1914. He served in France from 1915 and had only been in theatre a few months when on 3 July he was wounded while superintending the rebuilding of a trench parapet. He died of his wounds in a dressing station on 4 July 1915. George was buried that night in Kemmel Chateau Military Cemetery (grave ref. L.16). He qualified for the 1915 Star, British War Medal and Victory Medal. War Diary records: 3 Jul-15 – YORK HOUSE. 4.00pm. Situation normal. The enemy fired common shell and shrapnel at new trench between 11.30am and 1.30pm. Wind South West slight. 6.00pm. A shell fell near officers dug-outs in L3 and killed two of the servants, two others being wounded. 10.00pm. Officers Commanding “A” and “C” Companies reported that there was a trace of gas in the air. It was found afterwards due to gas shells. 2nd Lieutenant G. H. HIGHFIELD was hit in the arm and chest while superintending the rebuilding of the parapet where it had been knocked down by a shell. He died of his wounds in the Dressing station. War Diary records: 4 Jul-15 – YORK HOUSE. 12.00 noon. Casualty Report. 2nd Lieutenant G. H. HIGHFIELD died of wounds, killed one, died of wounds one, wounded four. 10.00pm. 2nd Lieutenant G. H. HIGHFIELD was buried at the cemetery at KEMMEL. The Commanding Officer, Lieutenant WALES, Lieutenant GRIFFIN and the Adjutant were present.
CWGC headstone personal inscription: 'Greater love hath no man he gave his life for his friends' George is also commemorated on memorials at All Saints Oakham Rutland, St John the Baptist Hugglescote Leicestershire, Clock Tower Memorial Coalville Leicestershire Mundella Magazine, Christmas 1918 edition, ROH: 'Highfield, George, 2nd Lieut, Yorks and Lancs.' Ollerton National School log, entry 8 July 1915: 'I regret to record the death (killed in action) of 2nd Lieutenant H G Highfield which occurred on the 4th inst.' (Nottinghamshire Archives, SL128, 1/2). Coalville Times, Friday July 9th, 1915: 'We regret to hear that Mr Highfield, a former assistant master at the Coalville Grammar School, who was very popular with his colleagues and the scholars, has been killed in action. He was a Lieut. in the 3rd York and Lancaster Regiment and had been at the front eight weeks. His parents (sic) reside at Oakham and received the official news yesterday.' (www.leicestershirewarmemorials.co.uk) Leicester Daily Post, 10th July 1915: 'Leicestershire and the War. Coalville Grammar School Master Killed in Action. Many friends and associates of Mr. G. H. Highfield, one of the masters of the Coalville Grammar School, will regret to hear he was killed in action recently. He had a brief connection with Coalville school, but was immensely popular with the pupils and gained a wide circle of acquaintances by his happy and kindly disposition. He belonged to West Bridgford, and received a commission in the 3rd Battalion York and Lancaster Regiment in November, through the Nottingham University College Officers Training Corps. The Coalville Grammar School boys had, in their late teacher an active and valuable scout master, since Lieutenant Highfield, when he was appointed to the Coalville Grammar School, was a scout master of the West Bridgford Troop of Boys Scouts.' (www.leicestershirewarmemorials.co.uk) Nottingham Evening Post, ‘Roll of Honour’, 14 July 1915: ‘Highfield. Killed in action, July 4th, Second Lieut. G Harold Highfield, 3rd York and Lancaster Regiment, late of 12, Colwick-road, West Bridgford, son of Mrs and the late Mr Fred Highfield.’ (www.britishnewspaperarchive.co.uk) Coalville Times, Friday July 16th 1915: 'Former Grammar Schoolmaster Killed in Action. The news of the death of 2nd. Lieut. G. H. Highfield, killed in action on Sunday, July 4th, has occasioned much regret in Hugglescote, Coalville and district. The deceased officer was formerly an assistant master at the Coalville Grammar School and by his genial manner and painstaking efforts in his profession, he had endeared himself to all with whom he came in contact. Lieut. Highfield left Coalville just before the outbreak of war to take an appointment as assistant master at Whitley Bay, but he never entered upon his duties there, as when hostilities commenced in August, he immediately offered his services to his country, sacrificing his profession for the time being as thousands more gallant fellows have done. At first he failed to pass the army doctor on account of defective teeth, but he was determined and when he tried again a few weeks later he was accepted. He was awarded a commission in the 3rd York and Lancaster Regiment, and it is of local interest to note that he was gazetted 2nd Lieutenant by the late Col. Broughton (brother of the Hugglescote Vicar) just before he met with his unfortunate accident. The deceased had only been at the front eight weeks. Lieut. Highfield was about 25 years of age. He came to Coalville from West Bridgford, and at both places he acted as master of a troop of boy scouts raised at the school. He also threw himself heartily into the games of the school and was a great favourite with the boys. His sterling work also won for him the cordial approval of his superiors and no one regretted his removal from Coalville more than the head master, Dr. Lloyd Storr-Best. He was the youngest of three brothers, another of whom is with the forces in Egypt, while the eldest, who is married, is engaged in Government work in London. Much sympathy is felt for the widowed mother who resides at Oakham. A memorial service for the deceased officer was held at Coalville Grammar School on Tuesday morning, Canon Broughton conducting. It will be remembered that at the last prize day at the school, it was announced that Lieut. Highfield had been given a commission and it was decided to send a telegram of congratulations from that gathering.' (www.leicestershirewarmemorials.co.uk) A letter from 2/Lt Highfield about his friend, Lieutenant Bernard C Laws, also of the York and Lancaster Regiment, who died of wounds on 23 May 1915, was published in the West Bridgford Advertiser on 17 July 1915: ‘Chums! Tragic interest attaches to the following letter written from the front by Lieut. GH Highfield, late of West Bridgford, when his chum, Lieut. Bernard Laws laid down his life, for the writer himself has made the great sacrifice, being killed in action last week. “Young Lycidas, and hath not left his peer.” ‘We all loved him, sir.’ This was the word of one of the men who carried Laws back to the Field Dressing Station, as he gave me an account of how that dastard wound was received. And this sums up the attitude of all wherever Dick moved – the kiddies’ ‘idol’ - so popular a comrade amongst his contemporaries and so welcome a favourite among elder people.’ The letter continues across two columns and ends ‘How cruel it seems that such a life should be cut off; it has often been remarked on that the very best fellows seem always to be taken, and now among these ‘Our’ Dick – all Bridgford at least could call him that – has been called to take his part. “Dulce et decorum est pro patra mori.”. GH.H.H. ‘Somewhere in France. ‘’ (www.britishnewspaperarchive.co.uk) Probate: Highfield Fred of Ollerton Nottinghamshire died 5 September 1904 at 2951 North-7th-street Philadelphia America probate Nottingham 7 April to Maria Highfield widow and William Smith brewer’s manager. Effects £2664 15s. 9d. Probate: Highfield Maria of 42 Winchester-road Andover Hampshire widow died 12 May 1939 Probate Nottingham 10 October to Arthur Frederick Highfield electrical engineer and Fred Cholerton Highfield pharmaceutical chemist. Effects £957 4s. 1d.
Remembered on


  • Commonwealth War Graves Commission headstone in Kemmel Chateau Military Cemetery, France. Photograph courtesy of Murray Biddle.
    George Harold Highfield - Commonwealth War Graves Commission headstone in Kemmel Chateau Military Cemetery, France. Photograph courtesy of Murray Biddle.