17 October 2016

9461 Pte George Henry Byrom, 1st Cheshire Regiment

Here's an eBay win from yesterday. When this photograph was taken in 1917, George Henry Byrom of the 1st Cheshire Regiment was about 22 years old and had already been a prisoner of war for over two years. 

George was not a regular soldier at all. His regimental number, 9461, belongs to the series that was issued by the 3rd (Special Reserve) Battalion and dates to the 27th December 1912. His medal index card notes that he arrived in France on the 31st August and he must therefore have been part of a draft for the 1st Battalion which had been overseas since the 16th.

According to his surviving service record, George was captured on the 14th October 1914. A surviving page held by the International Committee of the Red Cross (ICRC) notes that he was captured at La Bassee, one of 55 Cheshire regiment men who became prisoners of war that day. The ICRC record was compiled at Hameln Prisoner of War camp and dates to 6th February 1915. This photgraph was taken by A Mohn, a photographer based in Nienburg, which in turn was attached to Munster. 

George was repatriated on the 12th January 1919. His name appears on two lists sent to Sir Ernest Goodhart who had been charged with ensuring that all men captured before Christmas 1914 would retrospectively receive HRH Princess Mary's gift tin. George's address is given as 30 Hatherlow Street, Portwood, Stockport, and his next of kin recorded as his mother. A note on the back of my PoW photo also notes Portwood, thus linking the photograph to my PoW list. Hatherlow Street has long since been demolished, but the photograph below shows the street in the background, awaiting demolition in 1967. (The photograph below is courtesy Stockport Metropolitan Borough Council which, although it has disabled "Right Click" on its archive site, has not, thankfully, found a way to disable "Print Screen". Thank you, Stockport MBC).

The Princess Mary tin data also confirms George as a 3rd Battalion man, one of only a handful of Special Reservists captured with the Cheshire Regiment in 1914.

A little bit more about the man. George Henry Byrom was born in Stockport on the 29th March 1895, the son of John Henry Byrom (born c1871) and Mary Ellen Byrom (born c1873), and the brother of Elizabeth (born c1897) and Sarah Byrom (born c1899), James Byrom (born c1902), Richard Byrom (born c1904) and John Henry Byrom (born c1908). The family was Roman Catholic and George's baptism into the Roman Catholic church survives in Cheshire archive records. The 1911 census records George's trade as a "Doffer in Doubling Mill" a doffer being the person who removed the full bobbins from the frames in the spinning mills and replaced them with empty ones. 

After he had been repatriated in 1919, George tried to claim a pension, stating that he had an enlarged heart as a result of "neglect and hardships whilst a prisoner of war in Germany". He also noted that he had been a patient at Uchtermoor hospital in Germany and Amersfoort Hospital in Holland. Notes on his record state, "claims that owing to enlarged heart he has had to give up his ordinary work in mill after five nights". His pension claim was rejected.

George married Elizabeth Pollitt (born 3rd December 1894) in Stockport in 1920 and the couple went on to have three children: George (born in 1920), Elizabeth (born in 1922), and James (born in 1924). When the 1939 Register was taken, George and Elizabeth were living at 11 Gerrard Street, George working as a ring doubler, and Elizabeth working as a ring winder. None of their three children appear with them at this address.

George Byrom died in 1957 at the age of 61, Elizabeth Byrom died in 1974.

If anyone knows of the whereabouts of George's medals and would like to part with them, please do get in touch.

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