Son of George Troughton Armitage (Capt.,Royal Air Force) and Elizabeth
Anne, his wife, of Pudsey, Leeds, Yorkshire.
Armitage was born at Pudsey, Leeds, on the 16th of March 1896, the son of George Troughton Armitage, occupation, a Solicitor,
and Elizabeth Anne Armitage. At this period the family were residing in premises at 'The Marsh,' Pudsey, but it would
appear that the family led a transient lifestyle. Upon the birth of a daughter Dorothy in August 1896, the family residence
on her baptism records that the family were residing at West Street, Alford, Lincolnshire, however the baptism itself is recorded
as having taken place at St. Lawrence Church, Pudsey, the following month. By the year of the 1901 Census the family is recorded
as residing at 'Rose Villa,' Littlemoor Road, Pudsey.
now appears to be no trace of the family until the 1911 Census, the latter now recorded as having moved to Farlington near
Easingwold, George senior now describing his occupation as that of a Farmer (Employer). Employing a number of Farm Labourers
and Servants, the family had taken up residence at 'Raisebeck House,' both George and Dorothy being recorded in this
census as at school.
An obituary published in the Yorkshire Post on the 23rd of June 1917 records
that George was educated at Easingwold Grammar School located on the Thirsk Road but unfortunately there are no further details
as regards to his education.
Employed at the London City and Midland Bank and residing with his parents at Ashfield, Wetherby, George
attested for service at York on the 2nd September 1914 for a period of four years service with the Royal Garrison Artillery,
Described by his medical record as apparently 19 years of age and with a height of 5 feet 10
and 1/4 inches, he was declared 'fit' by the presiding Medical Officer.
Posted to the 2/1st West Riding Brigade,
Royal Garrison Artillery, a second line Territorial Artillery Brigade attached to the 2nd West Riding Division, after a period
of training at Hedon Racecourse Camp near Hull, George was allocated the rank of Gunner, Serial Number 458, with a qualification
of Signaller. Further to this enlistment, he also declared on Army Form E 624 that he was willing to serve outside
the United Kingdom in the event of National Emergency.
On the 28th March 1915 George was discharged to commission and
posted as a Second-Lieutenant to the 155th Brigade, Royal Field Artillery at Leeds. (London Gazette dated the 9th of April
155th Brigade Royal Field Artillery
The 155th Brigade
Royal Field Artillery were also known as the "Coal Owners Own" 155th West Riding, Royal Field Brigade of Artillery.
The brigade was formed in Leeds in early 1915 by the West Yorkshire Coal Owner's Association. Initially attached to the
31st Division as it's Divisional Artillery, the brigade were posted to the 32nd Division in the New Year of 1916.
The 155th became an Army Brigade on the 16th/17th January 1917 and consisted of "A," "B" and "C" Batteries
with 18-pdrs. and "D" Battery with 4.5" Howitzers.
In early spring 1915, the brigade was posted and billeted
at Wetherby utilizing Grange Park as a training facility.
For a comprehensive account of the activities during this period
spent at Wetherby and those of the brigades actions on the Western Front during 1916 the reader may wish to refer to
the commemoration of Sergeant Robert Fowler.
To the Front
On the 29th December
1915 the 155th Brigade R.F.A., Lieutenant-Colonel William St. Pierre Bunbury Officer Commanding departed Fovant Hills between
the hours of 6 and 9 p.m., destination Southampton.
Embarkation of the Brigade Ammunition Column and "A" Battery
was completed by late evening whereupon they proceeded to Le Havre where disembarkation was carried out on the morning of
the 30th. Hence, this advance element of the brigade proceeded to the Docks Rest Camp.
Headquarters Staff plus "B,"
"C" and "D" Batteries respectively arrived at Le Havre on the 31st but did not join the advanced element
of the brigade but instead proceeded to No.2 Rest Camp located at Sanvic, Le Havre.
A Nominal Roll of the
brigade contained in the War Diary records that George was one of three officers that comprised the Brigade Ammunition Column:
Acting Commander Lieutenant Cyril John Mawson
Second-Lieutenant George Jones Armitage
George Douglas Bottomley
The 155th Brigade would not have to wait long for active operations as on the 1st January
1916 they entrained for Amiens and proceeded to billets located to the north-west of the town at Argoeves. On the 6th of the
month, George and the officers and men of the "Coal Owners Own" would arrive in the chalky uplands of Picardy.
On the 7th January the batteries of the 155th began registration of targets
from positions in the Mesnil, Martinsart and Aveluy areas as part of the Left Group of the 32nd Divisional Artillery.
The Brigade Ammunition Column was to be located at Contay to the west of Albert, the village being located on
a major railhead that was primarily involved in the transportation and dumping of ammunition.
After an initial period
of intense action shelling numerous points and locations across the enemy front at Thiepval and its environs, the brigade
were finally withdrawn into rest positions. Initially moving to Frechencourt to the west of Albert, all elements of the brigade
finally moved to Montigny where the remainder of the month was spent in cleaning up and various forms of drill.
early March, the brigade moved to positions near Albert where fire was directed against enemy positions in the areas of La
Boisselle and Ovillers and in this position the remainder of the month was spent.
On April 6/7th, the brigade was gradually
relieved to be placed in reserve at Rubempre but on account of suitable facilities to gain water, instructions were issued
to move to Contay on the 13th.
A programme of training and drill was duly carried out in the days that followed.
On the 20th April, notification was received that the Commanding Officer of the brigade Lieutenant-Colonel Bunbury was
to be replaced by Major Ponsonby Sheppard D.S.O., this being duly carried out on the 28th instant.
The month of May was
spent in reserve at Contay but far from remaining idle, the brigade carried on a routine of training and providing men for
working parties digging gun pits at Aveluy.
On the 26th of the month, in accordance with the re-organisation of Divisional
Artilleries, the 155th Brigade Ammunition Column was broken up, personnel being distributed to the 32nd Divisional Ammunition
Column or to the Trench Mortar Batteries of the 32nd Division. The horses were distributed to the 32nd and 49th D.A.C.'s
with some lucky enough to be 'evacuated.'
As a consequence of this restructure, George and his fellow officers
were transferred as follows, dates are 26/5/16 unless stated:
Lieutenant D. Miller, Officer Commanding B.A.C.,
transferred strength (No unit recorded)
Lieutenant F.D. Smith, Army Vetinary Corps, transferred to 32nd D.A.C.
George Douglas Bottomley, transferred to "C" Battery, 155th Brigade (15/5/16)
Second-Lieutenant George Jones
Armitage, transferred to "A" Battery, 155th Brigade
Now attached to "A" Battery under the command
of Captain Vivian Nickalls, George assumed his duties.
On the 24th June, the 155th R.F.A. commenced the preliminary
bombardment of enemy positions in the Thiepval area.
At 7.30 a.m. on the morning of the 1st July, the infantry of the
32nd Division assaulted enemy positions located to the south of Thiepval village. The attack, though well supported by artillery,
ended in costly failure.
Remaining in action until the 18th July when a gradual relief was completed, George and
the men of the 'Coal Owner's Own' moved westwards, away from the from the stubborn defences of Thiepval village.
The latter would not finally fall until the 27th September after a prolonged and protracted series of engagements.
Gradually moving northwards towards the Bethune Sector, by early August
the 155th Brigade R.F.A. once again began offensive operations south of the Cuinchy Brickstacks area.
In September, the
Officer Commanding Lieutenant-Colonel Ponsonby Sheppard D.S.O. was replaced by Lieutenant-Colonel Herbert Allcard D.S.O formerly
Officer Commanding 164th Brigade R.F.A.
It was during the month that the brigade began a period of reorganization when
A/155 Battery was ordered to divide into two drafts. One was to be drafted to B/155 Battery and the other to C/155, thus,
these batteries now comprised of six guns. One section of A/155 now combined with a second section of C/155 and was now
designated A/155 also forming a six gun battery.
Authors note: The posting of officers from the 'old' A/155
Battery to other units in the 155th Brigade is recorded in the War Diary, albeit, with some 'confusion.'
is recorded as being transferred to "D" Battery but is also still included in a 'Nominal Roll' of officers
that either remained or were transferred to the new six gun "A" Battery. As the War Diary states that "D"
Battery was not subjected to any reorganization during this period, one can only presume that this may be a translation error
or that he was posted to "D" Battery as a supernumerary. The latter scenario however seems unlikely as as the War
Diary also records that 'excess' personnel were distributed to the Divisional Ammunition Column.
to the R.F.C.
On October 20th the 155th Brigade R.F.A. returned to the Somme battlefield in
preparation for the Battle of the Ancre which was scheduled to be launched on the 13th November.
Taking part in this
offensive the brigade were finally relieved on the 4th December.
It now becomes unclear as to George's further movements
or indeed his attachment to the Royal Flying Corps, however, there is a brief annotation in his service file that records
leave being granted to the U.K. between the dates of the 24th December 1916 - 4th February 1917. For this furlough he was
granted a Ration Allowance of £1 and 1 Shilling.
A Supplement to the London Gazette dated 30th June 1917 however
indicates a date of attachment to the R.F.C. as February 1917:
"Flying Officers (Observers). - 9th June
Temp. 2nd Lt. G.J. Armitage, R.A., with seniority from 13th Feb. 1917, and to be transfd. to Gen. List."
Sunday 17th June 1917: The death of Second-Lieutenant George Jones Armitage
|War Office Telegram dated 20th June 1917
Second-Lieutenant George Jones Armitage was subsequently attached as an Observer to No. 4 Squadron
Royal Flying Corps. based at Abeele, Belgium.
At the time of his death the squadron were in the process of converting
to RE 8's from BE 2G's, BE 2E's and BE 2Ds, the Bleriot Experimental Type produced by the Royal Aircraft Factory.
Also manufactured by the Royal Aircraft Factory the first production models of the RE 8 (Reconnaissance Experimental) had
reached France by late 1916. Accidents on conversion to the new type proved to be numerous but later modifications in design
led to a more stable aircraft making it ideally suited for the purpose of aerial reconnaissance, however, it was 'rumoured'
that under stress, the upper wing was liable to collapse.
George, acting as observer, with Second-Lieutenant Charles
Melville Sayer, a native of Winnipeg, Manitoba, Canada, at the controls, took off from Abeele aerodrome in RE. 8 Serial Number
At some stage during their flight, it is not recorded wether this was in training or on active operations, the
aircraft crashed killing them both.
For the source of the above information the Author would like to express his
gratitude to Gareth Morgan of Castle Hill, N.S.W., Australia who also provided an analysis of 'Airmen Died In
The Great War 1914-1918' by Chris Hobson. This publication records that both airmen were "Killed while flying"
indicating that the cause of their deaths was an accident and not as the result of enemy action.
family now residing at 'Moorcroft House,' Pudsey, Leeds, the notification by War Office Telegram of the death of George
arrived on Wednesday, 20th June 1917. Furthermore, on the 24th July, The Director of Graves Registration and Enquiries
informed the family that George had been buried at Vlamertinghe New Military Cemetery, west of Ypres. The letter concluded
"The grave has been registered in this office, and is marked by a durable wooden cross with an inscription
bearing full particulars."
On the 30th July, George's personal effects were forwarded to Cox and
Co's Shipping Agency prior to being sent home to his grieving family. These effects contained amongst other items:
1 set of mathematical instruments in case
1 leather tobacco pouch
Royal Field Artillery buttons
1 leather photo case and photo
1 Cheque Book, London City and Midland Bank
As regards the above
effects, George's father, waiting to be Gazetted and being posted away from home requested on the 4th July to the Assistant
Financial Secretary of the War Office that;
"my sons effects be forwarded to me at once, that i may save
his mother the pain of putting his kit etc.away before i leave."
Vlamertinghe New Military
Cemetery, Ieper, West Vlaanderen, Belgium
Vlamertinghe New Military Cemetery was constructed prior
to the launch of the series of battles known as Third Ypres in July 1917. Burials commenced however in the cemetery on the
3rd June (Authors Note: There is one burial however dated May 1915, possibly an isolated burial located on the battlefield
and concentrated here) and continued until October 1918.
The cemetery now contains 1,813 Commonwealth burials of the
Second-Lieutenants Armitage and Sayer, Observer and Pilot respectively, are now buried in adjoining graves,
one crew, of one aircraft that fell in the Great War.