George Thorne was born 12th December 1897. His parents Alfred and Lucy lived at that time in Old Whittington. According to the 1901 census Alfred (44) was a farm labourer and was born in Aldbury Herefordshire and his wife Lucy (41) was born at Langwith Derbyshire, in 1901 they were living at 103 Church Street old Whittington.
George was the next to youngest of eight children and as you can see from the census record below, the family appeared to have moved around before settling in Old Whittington. This could quite possibly due to Alfreds job as a farm labourer and his need to look for work. The elder children were born in different places prior to the birth of Gladys in 1896, the three youngest children being born in Old Whittington.
George attended Websters Mixed Endowed School. His school record shows that he first attended from 18/02/01 and left 24/09/01 (reason given ‘For Winter’) He was re-admitted 10/03/02 until 17/05/02, then re-admitted again 21/10/02 until 08/01/06 when he was transferred.
George is entered approx. halfway down the page and his sister Gladys is a few rows above him.
In 1911 the family live at 135 Richmond Terrace Church Street. and by now there are just four of the eight children living at home with Alfred and Lucy. George is still at school but his elder brother, Alfred, is listed as a colliery labourer (above ground) and his father gave his occupation as a Carter.
From later documents I found that George went to work as a miner at Glapwell Colliery after he left school, however in July 1915, he enlisted. The age for enlistment at this time was 18 years, George would have been approx. 17 1/2 years in July 1915 when he enlisted!
He firstly appears to have joined the 1/6th Battalion Notts and Derbyshire (Service Number 4359). By the time he was sent to France in December 1915 the 1/6th Battalion had become part of the 139th Brigade in 46th (North Midland) Division.
Cap Badge of the Notts and Derbyshires (Photo courtesy of the IWM)
The next record for George is when he was wounded in 1916 as it explains below he would have been entitled to wear a ‘Wound Stripe’.
As with many soldiers he was sent back to France as soon as he was able and at this time he must have been transferred to the 2/8th Battalion Notts and Derbyshire and given a new Service Number 307394. Men were transferred quite regularly, as numbers depleted they could be sent to other Battalions to swell their numbers. The 1/6th and 2/8th Battalions both followed the same path and were involved in many of the same battles.
Sadly on June 8th 1917 George was killed by a bursting shell, he was 19 years old. From the War Diaries around that date he may have been killed somewhere near Havrincourt Wood area.
A newspaper report appeared in the Derbyshire Times Saturday July 14th 1917.
Whittington Sherwood Killed
Private G H Thorne (19) Sherwood Foresters third son of Mr and Mrs A Thorne 227 Unstone Lane Old Whittington was killed by a bursting shell on June 8th. Leaving his work as a miner at Glapwell Colliery, he enlisted in July 1915, he being under Military Age, and went to France the following December. On the anniversary of his enlistment he was wounded by shrapnel in the left knee. He returned to the front in February last, and now comes the sad news of his death.
Captain J E Broad in a letter of condolence to the bereaved parents wrote “Your son was a jolly good lad, always did his work well and has been very useful in the fighting we had to do. He will be much missed both by officers and men”.
The Chaplain, the Reverend Stanley Hide, in the course of his letter said “I know you will always be proud that he gave his life in so fine a way. He is highly spoken of both by officers and men and is greatly missed”.
The excerpt above states the family address as 227 Unstone Lane Old Whittington the actual address was 227 Church Street Old Whittington. Church Street merges into Unstone Lane and I think it is therefore safe to assume it is the correct George Thorne.
George is buried in Metz-en-Couture Communal Cemetery British Extension more information on the Cemetery can be found here
The grave registration report form showing the position of George’s final resting place.
(Courtesy of the family of George Thorne)
George Thorne was awarded the Victory Medal and the British War Medal.
(Pictures of Victory and British War Medals courtesy of George Thorne’s family)
George is remembered on Old Whittington and The Brushes War Memorials. There is also a Memorial in St Mary Magdalenes Church Newark to the 1/8th and 2/8th Battalions of the Sherwood Foresters details can be found here