George Stephenson

canadaSapper, 5204, 1st Field Company, Canadian Engineers, killed in action, 15th June 1915, aged 33

Born at Althorpe on 27th April 1882 George was the fourth son of Alderman James Stephenson JP and his first wife Clara Frances (nee Adams). His mother died in 1892 and his father a farmer and influential member of the community remarried in 1895. In 1901 George was still living at home and in training as an apprentice engineer. Sometime in the early 1900’s he decided to use this skill and emigrate to Canada.

George was still in Canada when war broke out and on 9th September 1914 he enlisted in the Canadian Engineers at Valcartier, Quebec. He came over to Britain with the 1st Division of Canadian troops in October 1914 and spent the next few months on Salisbury Plain training before finally embarking for France in February 1915. After a period in reserve near Hazebrouck, the Division saw its first action in the Fleurbaix sector during the first three days of March and then moved to Ypres the following month.

In June 1915 during the Battle of Loos, the 1st Canadian Division along with the 7th British Division were detached to participate in an attack on the German lines east of Givenchy between two heavily armed strongpoints known as ‘Stony Mountain’ and ‘Dorchester’. The 7th Division would attack Stony Mountain whilst the Canadians were assigned Dorchester and the trenches between them. After several postponements the attack was set for the evening of Tuesday 15th of June, 1915.

Despite two separate waves of attack over two days the attack was a complete failure costing thousands of lives for the gain of no ground. Among the dead was George Stephenson, killed in the first attack on 15th June whilst bombing the German trenches. He is Buried in the Post Offices Rifles Cemetery near Festubert.

George is remembered on both Althorpe War Memorials and on the headstone of his parents grave in St Oswald’s Churchyard. He is also remembered on Canadian War Memorials.