Private George Edward Clayton MM 15/210

Private George Edward Clayton(M.M) 15/210 Born. 25/1/1890 Batley, West Yorkshire Died. 1971 aged 81. George Edward Clayton, was the son of John Henry and Frances Clayton of Beck Lane, Batley, Yorks. In 1891 the family moved to Leeds, where his father, a chemist, started a wholesale drug and drysalting business. On leaving school George trained as a tailor's cutter and after finishing his apprenticeship and working for a short time at Hepworths tailors in Leeds he started his own tailoring business. He was also a member of the Trinity Wesleyan Church at Roundhay in Leeds. In September 1914 he gave up his business to join the "Pals" and served with them as a battalion runner throughout their stay in Colsterdale, Egypt and France, taking part in all the major battles, including 1st of July 1916 (The battle of the Somme). The only time spent away from the trenches came in December 1916 when he was given nine days home leave. On the 2nd May 1917, George was mentioned in Dispatches. One day later, the Pals attacked Gavrelle, near the city of Arras. It was in this attack Private Clayton earned The Military Medal. The citation ( recommendation ) for this award reads: For Bravery in the Field. 15/210. Private George E. Clayton, A battalion runner, when no information could be received from the attacking companies, went out at Gavrelle on May 3rd 1917, under a heavy barrage of fire and succeeded in obtaining information which allowed preparations to be made to meet counter attacks. He was badly wounded in both legs. The entries in Georges Diary for this period read: Thursday 3rd May 1917 Went over 4:15am, badly wounded in both legs. Took to hospital at Aubigny. Operated on at 5pm. Left Aubigny 7pm. Friday 4th May 1917 Arrived Camiens 3am, took into A.7.Ward 22nd Canadian General Hospital. Ordered to have left leg off. Wednesday 9th May 1917 Left Camiens 2-15am for Blighty, arrived at Taplow, Bucks, Duchess of Connaught Canadian Red cross Hospital, Ward G2 10pm Sunday 20th May 1917 Haemorrhage, operated again, given Morphine. Mother told to come, not expected to live. On the 25th and 26th May 1917, the Commanding Officer, Lieutenant Colonel Stuart Campbell Taylor, sent 2 letters to George’s mother, in them he wrote: Dear Mrs Clayton, May 25th 1917 I want to write and tell you how proud we are of your gallant son, Pte G E Clayton, 15th West Yorkshire Regt, who was wounded at Gavrelle on May 3rd during our attack on the German line. Your son did many brave acts, carrying messages under very heavy shellfire and bringing most valuable information, utterly disregarding the danger. He was an example to all and showed himself a hero. I am glad to tell you, he has been awarded the Military Medal for bravery and courage. I do not know his address now, as he must be in hospital in England. Will you let him know the good news and how proud we all are of him? He can wear the ribbon at once. Yours Sincerely Stuart C Taylor Lieut. Colonel Comm.15th West Yorkshire Reg’t Dear Mrs Clayton, May 26th 1917 I wrote to you yesterday telling you your brave boy had won the Military Medal for fine acts of courage on May 3rd 1917 against the Germans. I now have a piece of the medal ribbon which he must wear on the left breast of his coat, will you send it to him or take to him with my congratulations. The medal will be sent to him in due course. Yours Sincerely Stuart C Taylor Lieut Colonel Comm.15th West Yorkshire Reg’t On the 4th July 1917 he was transferred to the V.A.D. Hospital, in High Wycombe and was there until moved to the 2nd Northern General Hospital at Leeds on the 11th October 1917. He was discharged from the Army on the 31st December 1917 as "no longer fit for Military Service" He spent a further 2 years in military hospitals. Fortunate in not having his legs amputated and always maintaining that this was due to the skill and dedication of the Canadian Surgeons. After the war he was advised to move away from Leeds on health grounds. He took up a position as Head Cutter in a tailoring factory in Wigton, Cumberland. During the Second World War, still suffering from his wounds and working full time, he served as an ARP warden in Wigton for the duration. He died in 1971, aged 81. He had been receiving treatment to remove shrapnel from his legs as late as 1960!. With special thanks to his Son who generously donated letters, photographs and diary entries in his Father’s memory.

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