George Barker was born on 7th April 1896 at Shuttlewood nr Bolsover. George’s baptism is listed in the non-conformist records as taking place on the Langwith and Doe Lea Circuit. Non-conformist was a title given to any member of a religious group other than Church of England. Methodist Chapels were generally organised into a group in a Circuit. George was baptised on 26 July 1896 probably in a Methodist Chapel. His date of birth, according to the non-conformist records, is recorded as 7th July 1896 not April as on the school record!
George’s father William was a miner. By 1899 the family were living at Old Whittington, which is where George was recorded as attending Websters Endowed school.
Sadly there is no full address given, just Old Whittington. As can be seen from the admissions register George started at that school 24th April 1899 and left 10th July 1900 when he was four years and eight months old. I have no record as to where George went to school after this.
The 1901 census shows that the family were living at Church Street Old Whittington.
At four years old, George was the eldest of three brothers. In 1905 Betsy Barker, George’s mother died, and she is buried in Old Whittington Churchyard. William, George’s father remarried in 1906 to Mary Ann Booth.
By 1911 George, now 14 years old, had left school and was working as a ‘Jut Knocker’ at the pit according to the census. I can find no description for this job but at 14 I would have thought it would be a job that a lad would do when they first started at the pit.
As you can see from the 1911 census report below, George was now the eldest of five boys and the family had moved to Newbridge Street, Old Whittington.
With the outbreak of WW1 George enlisted in the 9th Battalion Scottish Rifles (The Cameronians). George’s service record has not survived therefore there is no record of when or where he enlisted. He joined as a Private and his service number was 18316.
There is a clue to when and where George may have enlisted. George Bates, who I researched earlier, also joined the Cameronians and his service number was 18317! It is only an assumption, but it looks like the two Georges could have been pals who enlisted together. In which case George Barker would have enlisted in Chesterfield on or around 15th April 1915. If they followed the same path, then they both arrived in France on 3rd October 1915. As I say it is purely a good possibility as they have consecutive service numbers.
Cap badge of the Cameronians Image from https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki
If George did arrive in early October 1915 he would have arrived during the Battle of Loos (25th September – 16th October 1915). The British casualties (killed, wounded or missing) amounted to more than 60,000. It would have been a baptism of fire.
He would certainly have been involved in the Battle of Bazentin Ridge at Longueval, one of the Battles of the Somme, which took place 14th -17th July 1916.
The 9th suffered very heavy casualties and George Barker was presumed dead on 14th July 1916. He was 20 years old. More can be read about the Battle of Bazentin Ridge at
Sadly, George’s body was never recovered and he is commemorated on the Thiepval Memorial.
More information can be found on Thiepval at
The grave registration report shows that by 1916 George’s family were living at 5 Newbridge Lane Old Whittington.
The register of personal effects names William as George’s beneficiary.
George’s medal card shows that he was awarded the Victory and the British War Medals, if he did enter the Theatre of War in 1915 then he would also be entitled to the 14/15 Star.
George is remembered on the Old Whittington and the Brushes War Memorials. He is also commemorated on the Scottish National War Memorial Roll of Honour which can be seen here
George’s father remained in Old Whittington, and according to the 1939 register he was living at 19 Swanwick Street Old Whittington with his wife Mary and a daughter Gladys who had been born in 1918.