George Hughes was born in Hascombe, Surrey, in October 1887, the second child of James and Eliza Hughes, nee Hammond, the brother of my Nan, Ada. Other children of the family were William, born 1889, and Thomas, born 1891, both in Hascombe, and James, born 1894, and Leonard, born 1897, both in Dunsfold. The family are recorded in the census of 1901 as living in East Horsley and George is described as a ‘Farm Boy’. James Snr was a woodman and the family lived at The Hermitage, a workman’s cottage on the Horsley Towers Estate. By the 1911 census the family had moved to Nutfield and the last child, Mabel Ellen, was born there in 1907. They lived at Werks Cottages but George is recorded as a ‘Wagonner’ on a farm living in the household of George Illman at 2 Spicer’s Villas, Charlwood, Surrey (an Illman family were later to be connected to this family).
George was a member of the Nutfield Church Lads’ Brigade and was one of many who enlisted in the King’s Royal Rifle Corps in 1914. George’s service papers show that he enlisted on 17 September 1914 at the age of 26, giving his occupation as a ‘Carman’. No address is recorded. He was 5’3″ tall, weighed 130lbs (about 9 stone) with a chest of 37″, fully expanded to 39″. During his service he is recorded as being ‘Unshaven on Parade’, for which he received 2 days confined to barracks, ‘Slack on Parade’, and as AWOL (absent without leave) from 11 p.m. on 20 December 1914 to 6.15 a.m. on 21 December 1914.
George served in the 16th Battalion of the King’s Royal Rifle Corps. He died on 15 July 1916 in the High Wood Campaign, the Somme. He is commemorated in the Caterpillar Valley Cemetery, Longueval, France. The memorial/grave reference is IV.E.8. George is also on both memorials at Nutfield; in the church the men are recorded in the order that they fell, and in the village in alphabetical order.
In 1919 James Snr completed a form stating all the living blood relatives of his son George. Here we see recorded:
James and Eliza, his parents; William aged 29 living at 34 Charman, Redhill; Thomas (27) living at Churchill Cottages, Nutfield; Leonard aged 22 at 5 Lepold Street, Oxford. His sisters Mrs Coppard (Ada) and Mabel living at Sunflower Cottages, Chessington [Mabel aged 12 came to live with Ada’s family to help with the children as by this time Ada’s husband, Herbert Ambrose Coppard, had not returned home having been a POW]. Nephews and niece (Bert aged 6, Hilda [my mother] aged 4 and Victor aged 2). Uncle and Aunt by blood: John Hammond at 42 High Street, Cheam, and Ellen Hammond c/o Mrs Rucks, South Nutfield [the rest of this large family are not listed].
This little man, one of my Nan’s brothers who was lost in the Great War, is my new Hero.
Christine Clode, great-niece.
Click here for further information on the Nutfield Church Lads’ Brigade and a further photograph of George Hughes.