At the outbreak of the First World War, George Butterworth was being described as the most promising British composer of his day.
George was born in Paddington, London in 1885 but at the age of six moved to Yorkshire when his father became first solicitor and then General Manager of the North Eastern Railway Company. George inherited his mother’s talent for music (she was a professional singer before her marriage). His parents sent him to Aysgarth Preparatory School, near Bedale where he played the organ during school services. His musical ability led to him gaining an Organ Scholarship to Eton College. He initally entered Trinity College, Oxford with the intention of studying law, but this idea was abandoned as he became increasingly interested in setting down the folk music of the British Isles.
At the outbreak of the First World War, George enlisted in the Duke of Cornwall’s Light Infantry and was later granted a commission in the Durham Light Infantry. He was on active service for almost a year and awarded the Military Cross in 1917. The citation states that he had commanded the Company when the Captain was wounded ‘with great ability and coolness … and total disregard of personal safety’.
Less than a month later, on Saturday 5 August, he was shot through the head by a German sniper in ‘Munster Alley’. Only a day later, William Short of the 8th Battalion, Yorkshire Regiment undertook the action which led to his posthumous Victoria Cross in the same spot.
In his letter of condolence to the Butterworth family dated 13 August, his commanding officer, who had been visiting the company moments before the fatal shot, wrote that George was ‘one of those quiet, unassuming men whose path did not appear naturally to be a military one, … [but he had done his duty] … quietly and conscientiously. When the offensive came he seemed to throw off his reserve and, in those strenuous 35 days in which we were fighting off and on, he developed a power of leadership which we had not realised he possessed.’ He was in charge of a group digging a trench under German fire – this trench was subsequently called the Butterworth Trench on all the official maps – and he was ‘cheery and inspiring his tired men to secure the position which had been won earlier in the night…. Within a minute of my leaving him, he was shot.’
His body was never recovered although it is thought that it might have been interred at the nearby Pozieres Memorial Commonwealth War Graves Commission cemetery. George’s name is displayed on the Thiepval Memorial to the Missing of the Battles of the Somme. This memorial is near the village of Thiepval in Picardy, France, and commemorates the 72,195 missing British and South African men with no known grave.
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Clement Rose was the son of John and Mary Rose of Monkwearmouth, Sunderland. His father was a mast-maker. He enlisted in the East Yorkshire Regiment in October 1914 at the age of 17. His elder brother was serving with the Yorkshire Regiment and claimed Clement for them. The 8th Battalion left for France in late August 1915 and on October 11th they relieved the 11th Sherwood Foresters Regiment in trenches at Rue Marles. 15734 Private Clement Rose was killed in action on the 13th, one of the 8th Battalions first casualties. He was buried at Desplanque Farm Cemetery, La Chapelle-D’Armentieres and left his effects to his mother, £2-10s and a gratuity of £3.
Colin Parker’s Grandfather, Earnest Tewson A/Cpl 13277 joined the Yorkshire regiment in Eston. He was awarded the Distinguished Conduct Medal, 1915 Star, British War Medal and Victory Medal. This was for conspicuous gallantry and devotion to duty. He held onto his post, after his platoon commander had been killed, and only withdrew when the situation was secure, and all his ammunition and bombs had been expanded, he saved the whole line from been turned. After the war, Earnest worked at Dorman Long, married Ava (Abby), and went on to have two children Elsie and Lily (Mr Parker’s mother), and lived in Grangetown, near Eston.
Wilfred was born in March 1896 in Marske by the Sea near Redcar on the East coast. When he was young his family moved to Middlesbrough where his father worked in the steelworks. Wilfred was training as a draughtsman when war broke out. Wilfred was just 5’ 2’’ tall, an inch shorter that the regulation height. But due to the great manpower losses he eventually got his chance in early 1915 when recruitment standards were somewhat relaxed. He enlisted in the 4th Battalion. It was in November of 1916 in the latter stages of the Somme offensive that the work party that Wilfred had volunteered for came under fire. On his way back to his own lines he was caught by a shell explosion. He was taken to a hospital at Abbeville where his left arm was amputated. Back in England Wilfred had to adjust to life without a limb. He was classed as ‘incurably unemployable’ and found it impossible to get a job. He used his time to study employment law and became a ceaseless campaigner for better conditions of his fellow jobless war wounded. He would continue to do so even when after he eventually gained employment. He was instrumental in establishing one of the first branches of BLESMA (British Limbless Ex-Servicemen’s Association) in Teesside. He married Elsie and his daughter Sylvia was born in 1932. However, his fifty cigarettes a day habit for most of his life would take their toll. He died of lung cancer in…