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  • 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.
Person Details
Huthwaite Nottinghamshire
George Staples was born in 1895 the son of Charles a coal miner born at Keyworth in 1857 and Mary Staples née Hooley who was born at Codnor in 1857. They were married in 1876. They had 11 children eight of whom survived infancy. They were Alice b.1878 Codnor, Katherine b.1879 Selston, William b.1882 Westwood, Charles b.1885 Westwood, Gertrude b.1888 Pye Hill, Florence Annie b.1891 Huthwaite, George b.1896 Huthwaite and Thomas Edmund b.1898 Huthwaite. In 1911 census the family lived at 70 Victoria Road, Kirkby in Ashfield . At the time of George’s death his parents were living at Forest Street, Kirkby in Ashfield.
He was a miner at the Summit Colliery.
01 Jul 1916
20
1554068 - CWGC Website
21779
Huthwaite Nottinghamshire
Private
11th Bn Sherwood Foresters (Notts & Derby Regiment)
George enlisted on 4th January 1915 in Mansfield and was drafted to France in August 1915. and was killed in action on first day of the Battle of the Somme 1st July 1916. 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 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 He has no known grave, andhis name is commemorated on the Thiepval Memorial.
Following is an extract from the Notts Free Press – The photo is that of Private George Staples, D. Company, 11th Sherwoods, who has been missing since the big push on the Somme on July 1st, 1916. His parents who reside in Forest street, East Kirkby, have now been officially notified that he is reported killed in action. Enquiries have been made in Germany through the Swiss Consul, but no trace can be found of him as being a prisoner in the enemy's hands, and in view of the War Office notification his friends have abandoned hope. Private Staples enlisted on January 4th, 1915 and was drafted to France in August of the same year. His last letter home was dated 10th June, 1916. He was 21 years of age, and was employed at the Summit Colliery. Research by Peter Gillings
Remembered on

Photos

  • 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.