Remembering George

Lance Corporal George Shipway died a slow and probably painful death in January 1922 from the wounds and gassing he received fighting on the Western Front. He was 33 years old.

George is named on our War Memorial and interred in our graveyard but until recently the site of his grave was unknown. The chance finding of a hand-drawn map of the graveyard, probably from the 1930s, has shown us where his body lies. There is no headstone, no marker, unlike many of his colleagues who fell. Just his name on the War Memorial.

George’s misfortune is that his death is not recognised by the Commonwealth War Graves Commission which closed its books in August 1921. Hence, even now, he doesn’t qualify for a headstone.

George had been a soldier before the war and served his country in China, India and Africa with the South Wales Borderers and latterly the 1st Battalion, Royal Welsh Fusiliers. He retired, but then rejoined on the 13th of August 1914 just ten days after the outbreak of war. He served throughout the war being invalided home after hostilities ceased.

When he was growing up his parents, George and Ellen, lived in Slimbridge Street (now Ryalls Lane). Ellen died in 1905 and George senior not long after George in 1924. That is probably why, when he returned from France, he was nursed by his sister and brother-in-law Annie and George Fryer of Moorend. The family were not wealthy, they were all farm labourers. George never married and we can find no living relatives, so it is down to us to decide how to honour George’s selfless service.

We will be raising funds this year to commission a headstone for George which will look a lot like those of his comrades. We are raising funds through a raffle and the proceeds of the tower tours. If you wish to make a separate donation please contact us on slimbridge.lhs@gmail.com.

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