Private 16339 George Henry Powell

Killed in Action on Sunday, 6th August 1916, age 26.
Commemorated on Pier and Face 7 B of Thiepval Memorial, Somme, France.

2nd Bn., South Staffordshire Regiment. 6th Brigade of 2nd Division.

Son of William and Caroline Powell, of 31, Nock St., Toll End, Tipton, Staffs.
Born: Tipton, Enlisted: Birmingham, Resident: Tipton.

First landed France & Flanders, 25th May 1915.
Medal entitlement: 1914-15 Star, British War Medal, Victory Medal.
Soldier's Papers at National Archives did not survive.

Commemorated on the Tipton Library, and St. Mark's memorials.
Commemorated here because he appears on a Tipton memorial.

Link to Commonwealth War Graves Site: www.cwgc.org/find-war-dead/casualty/1549044/

Genealogical Data

Birth of George Henry Powell registered in June 1890 at Dudley.

1901 Census
7 Nock Street, Tipton, Staffs...Joseph Davies VC was living next door at No. 5
William Powell (49, Canal Boat Builder, born Tipton), his wife Kate (48, born Paddington), and their 7 sons: William (23, Puddler, born Tipton), Thomas (17, Assistant Furnaceman in Tube Works, born Tipton), Samuel (15, Tube Screwer, born Tipton), Arthur (13, Tube Screwer, born Tipton), Harry (11, born Tipton), John (8, born Tipton), and James (5, born Tipton).

1911 Census
31 Nock Street, Tipton, Staffs.
Caroline Powell (59, Widow, born London), and her 7 sons: William (33, Boat Builder, born Tipton), Thomas (17, Labourer in Tube Works, born Tipton), Samuel (25, Labourer in Tube Works, born Tipton), Arthur (23, Labourer in Tube Works, born Tipton), Harry (21, Labourer in Tube Works, born Tipton), John (18, Labourer in Tube Works, born Tipton), and James (15, Labourer in Tube Works, born Tipton).

Personal Data

George's brother, Samuel, also died as a result of the Great War. Samuel enlisted with the South Staffordshire Regiment before transferring to the newly-formed Machine Gun Corps. Samuel was invalided out of the army on 22nd October 1917 due to sickness, and received his Silver War Badge; he died from Tuberculosis on 6th September 1919 but has a Commonwealth War Grave in Tipton Cemetery.

After George's death, his outstanding army pay and allowances amounted to £0/7/7d (7 shillings and 7 pence); this was paid to his mother and sole legatee, Caroline, in December 1916. His War Gratuity was £7/0/0d (7 pounds exactly), this was also paid to his mother in September 1919. The value of the War Gratuity suggests that George had enlisted in approximately January 1915.

There is a Dependant's Pension Card in Caroline's name refererring to her sons George Henry and Samuel. THere is no indication that a pension was actually paid. Her address at this time, probably 1919, was still at 31 Nock Street, Toll End.

Action resulting in his death

The very fine book "When the Whistle Blows" by Riddock and Kemp on the 17th Middlesex (1st Sportsman Battalion) provides the following outline.
2nd Division (which included 2nd South Staffs) had left Delville Wood around 2nd August 1916 after a very trying time in the line. Brigadier General Arthur Daly (honestly!) the 6th Brigade Commanding Officer, had told 2nd Division HQ that his Brigade was severely weakened as a fighting force from their time in Delville Wood, but would be willing to do their duty if ordered to do so.

Daly's pleas fell on deaf ears. 2nd Division was ordered to take the village of Guillemont on 8th August and 6th Brigade was to attack north of the village at Waterlot Farm. Guillemont is less than a mile south of Delville Wood.

2nd South Staffs was in reserve in trenches in Trones Wood and Bernafay Wood, but 'A' Company was placed at the disposal of 1st Kings (Liverpool), and 'B' Company at the disposal of 17th Middlesex (the 1st Footballer's Battalion).

During the evening of 5th August, the 17th Middlesex took over the front line opposite Waterlot Farm. On the next day, the 6th, they were subject to heavy shelling throughout the day, 7 Middlesex men were killed.

It is possible that Private Powell was with the 17th Middlesex on that day, but also possible he was with the 1st King's (Liverpool), or even in reserve in Trones Wood or Bernafay Wood. Regardless, his death on the 6th August was most likely to shellfire. He has no known grave and is commemorated on the Thiepval Memorial to the Missing of the Somme.

Newspaper Cuttings

Tipton Herald 16th September 1916
In the Casualty List, the names of those "killed" include Private S.W. Langston, Private G.H. Powell and Private W. Smith; all of Tipton and belonging to the South Staffs Regiment. Also amongst those killed is Private E .Cox of the Highland Light Infantry.