George, William Asaph. D.C.M. M.M.

The 1891 Census on shows us that the George family were residing at The Cottage which was next door to the Bull Inn in Saint Asaph, Flintshire.

The head of the household was John George, 32 years of age born in Saint Asaph a Gardener and General Labourer by trade.

His wife was Sarah age 35 also born in Saint Asaph as were  their children, Robert Llewelyn age 7, Jane age 5, Sarah Anne age 4 and William Asaph age 16 months. They were a Welsh speaking family.

The 1901 Census shows us that the Head of the family is now Sarah who is a Launderess by trade.

The family still living at home are Sarah Anne age 13, William Asaph age 12 and Elizabeth age 4.

Unfortunately I cannot locate the family in 1911.

British Army WW1 Service Records 1914-1920

William Asaph George enlisted into the Royal Welsh Fusiliers at Wrexham on 11th January 1906. He gave his trade as Footman and his regimental number was 9010.

William  was posted to the 7th Battalion RWF and served the first two years of service at Wrexham Depot.

On 8th Jabnuary 1908 he was transferred to 2nd Battalion Royal Welsh Fusiliers and served two years in Cork.

On 8th  January 1910 he was transferred to 2nd Battalion and posted to Shwebo, Burma until the 2nd Battalion were posted to India on 9th January 1911.

During this time he was promoted to 2nd Corporal  and on 1st March 1911 he was transferred to 34th Divisional Signal Coy which was raised in Admednagar, India.

On 7th August while posted in India, William contracted Malaria and was hospitalized for one week in Admednagar.

On 1st September 1913 William transferred to 4th Battalion Kings Royal Rifles Coy and was at that time posted in Quetta.

At the beginning of WW1 the 4th Battalion King’s Royal Rifles Coy was stationed at Gharial, India.On 16th October 1914 the Battalion embarked for England from Bombay arriving in Plymouth and moved to Winchester to join the 80th Brigade of the 27th Division.

In December 1914 they were mobilised for war and landed in Harve and engaged in various actions on the  Western Front, including The action at St. Eloi and the Second Battle of Ypres.

The Battalion moved to Salonica in November 1915.

The Battle of Kut – el – Amara. Guardian Newspaper 20/11/2002 written by Ross Davies

November 22 1915, General Charles Vere Ferrers Townshend and his force of about 9,000 men of the 6th Indian division were advancing on Baghdad by boat along the Tigris, the land being roadless – an “arid billiard table”. At Ctesiphon, about 20 miles short of the capital, the Indian and British troops came up against a larger, better armed and better supplied Turkish force which had had months to dig in on both sides of the river.

Townshend’s force drove out the defenders, but at the cost of 40% casualties. Unable to withstand a counter-attack, let alone continue the advance, Townshend retreated back down the Tigris, with 1,600 Turkish prisoners and more than 4,500 wounded from both sides. The long, slow journey was nightmarish for the wounded, for Townshend had been kept short of boats and medical supplies by a stingy government in India. An over-optimistic superior, Sir John Nixon, had ordained that the men would find all they needed – in Baghdad.

Collecting other troops as he inched along, Townshend made his stand at Kut, a strategic river junction he had captured a month previously. It had been one of a number of cheap and brilliant victories by a clever and resourceful soldier who knew the value of morale, and until the end kept the respect of his men. He had argued all along against going on to Baghdad; he lacked sufficient men, food and artillery as well as river transport and medical back-up. But the general and his men were to be the victims of their own success.

The invasion of Mesopotamia itself was about oil, but that required only a landing on the Gulf coast to secure the southern part of the country around Basra. This would keep the Turks away from the nearby Persian port of Abadan, terminus of the Anglo-Persian pipe-line which was the source of the Royal Navy’s oil supply. Basra was taken and held with little cost at the end of 1914 by a small invasion force launched from India. By late 1915, however, the war cabinet needed a success story to round off a year of military disaster, most recently at Gallipoli, where the British were preparing to pull out, having failed to break out and take Constantinople. Why not push beyond Basra province and take Baghdad?

The Gallipoli campaign ended on January 8 1916 with a re-embarkation of Dunkirk proportions. By then, Kut, a collection of flyblown hovels, with Townshend and his men inside, had been surrounded for more than a month: included in the 13,500 penned inside were some 3,500 Indian non-combatants and 2,000 sick and wounded. There were also 6,000 Arabs to be fed.

They held out in freezing cold and then torrential rain against infantry assault, sniper fire, shelling, and bombing, until a relief force could get near enough for the defenders to risk breaking out. It never happened. Three attempts were made to relieve Kut. Each failed, at a total cost of 23,000 casualties. Food began to run out, and many of the Indian troops could or would not eat what meat there was. The defenders’ draught animals, the oxen, were the first to go, followed by their horses, camels, and finally, starlings, cats, dogs and even hedgehogs.

Kut was the first siege in which aircraft dropped supplies: these ranged from money to millstones to keep the garrison’s flour mill going (and thus the Indians’ supply of chapatis). But the Turks and their German officers were able to send up more and better aircraft, and too few friendly planes could get through to avert starvation. Repeated attempts to supply Kut by river were also repulsed. Desperate to keep his men alive, Townshend suggested – and the government endorsed – a ransom of £2m (about £67m today) for the defenders to go free. The Turks, elated by Gallipoli and able to switch troops from there to Kut, refused.

Finally, on April 29, when vegetarian Indians were down to seven ounces of grain a day, Kut capitulated. Townshend was given permission to surrender, and obtained promises of humane treatment for his men from the Turks. It was then, after five months of siege, that the troubles of the defenders of Kut really began. The Turks had a different notion of what constitutes “humane treatment” and, as they treated their own soldiers with extreme brutality, saw no reason to pamper their captives. About 1,750 men had died from wounds or disease during the siege. Some 2,600 British and 9,300 Indian other ranks were rounded up and marched away. Two-thirds of the British and about a seventh of the Indians never saw their homes again. Relative to the numbers of men involved, the British losses at Kut dwarfs those of the far bigger battles on the Western Front.

The historian and war poet Geoffrey Elton was a junior officer at Kut and saw the rank-and-file being marched away, officerless, “none of them fit to march five miles … full of dysentery, beri-beri, scurvy, malaria and enteritis; they had no doctors, no medical stores and no transport; the hot weather, just beginning, would have meant much sickness and many deaths, even among troops who were fit, well-cared for and well supplied.”

Some were marched to captivity elsewhere in Mesopotamia, others all the way to Turkey. Elton spoke of the Arab guards stealing the mens’ boots, helmets and water bottles, and of dead and dying stragglers left where they fell. Cruttwell said: “The men were herded like animals across the desert, flogged, kicked, raped, tortured, and murdered.”

The Turks abandoned Kut in February 1917, and Baghdad fell in March. That June a royal commission reported on who was to blame for ordering Townshend to advance so far forward. The answer was everybody but Townshend. His commanding officer, Sir John Nixon, was censured. So too was the viceroy of India, Lord Hardinge, the commander-in-chief in India, Sir Beauchamp Duff, the secretary of state for India, Austen Chamberlain, and the war cabinet in London, which had disregarded the advice of its own secretary of state for war, Earl Kitchener.

As the horrors of the death marches and prison camps became known after the war, so the sufferings of the men were contrasted with more favourable treatment given to their officers – Townshend, in comfortable captivity near Constantinople, was knighted in 1917. From being the hero of his country’s longest siege, “Townshend of Kut” became its villain.

William Asaph George was awarded The Distinguished Conduct Medal for gallantry in the field in the face of the enemy. He was entitled to use the letters D.C.M. after his name.

William was also awarded The Military Medal for acts of gallantry and devotion to duty under fire or for individual or associated acts of bravery which were insufficient to merit the Distinguished Conduct Medal.

He was Gazetted on 12th December 1917

On 3rd June 1916 there was information stating that William was captured at the Battle of Kut-el-Amara and was presumed to be a Prisoner of War.

On 27th of November 1916  William Asaph George died in Angora, Turkey, of Chronic Enteritus while a Prisoner of War.

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