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Woodborough’s Heritage

Woodborough, an ancient Sherwood Forest Village recorded in Domesday

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George Teather 1887-1918 Revised April 2018 for the centenary of his death



George Teather was born and lived his whole life in Woodborough, apart from when he was in the army. He was the only son of Mary Ann Teather who lived in Woods Yard, off Main Street, with her parents and siblings. The family were framework knitters. By 1881 her siblings had left home and Mary Ann’s father, George, died in 1882 aged 56, leaving his wife and daughter. Mary Ann gave birth to George Teather in the first quarter of 1886. About this time the family of now three moved to The Row and by the time of the 1891 census, when George was 4, had taken in a lodger, George Robinson. The following year, Mary Ann married George Spencer at St Swithun’s Church on 4th April. Both bride and groom were 30 years old.


George Teather was baptised at St Swithun’s on 28 May 1893. The baptism entry indicates that his mother was a single woman despite her marriage the year before. It may be that Mary Ann had left her son with his grandmother, who arranged the baptism, as by the 1901 census George Spencer and Mary Ann were living in Row Lane and employed as framework knitters and Ann Teather now 69, had her grandson George, aged 15, employed as a market gardener, with her in Pinchpenny Row. He is also believed to have been a drummer in the village band.


Sadly for Mary Ann her husband George Spencer died in 1908 at the early age of 47. The 1911 census finds her living with her son George on Main Street. George is now employed as a framework knitter like his mother.


In November 1910 at Epperstone, George Teather joined the Territorial Army in the 8th Sherwood Foresters for a period of 4 years, which could be extended by 12 months if the Army Reserve was called out on permanent service. At his initial medical, his height was recorded as 5ft 5.1/4in. In the next three years he attended annual training camps. In June 1914 his mother remarried in Woodborough to Edwin Spencer, with whom she was still living in 1939 at 9 Shelt Hill Cottages.


In August 1914 George was called up for service at the outbreak of the war. He was stationed in England until 28th Feb 1915 when he embarked at Southampton for France. A month later he was admitted to No. 2 General Hospital at Havre suffering from boils and spent two weeks there before moving on to convalescence and then back to his battalion on 10th June 1915. On 11th November 1915 he was discharged at the end of his agreed term and returned to England with 5 years and 8 days service. He was awarded the 1914-15 Star medal and the British War and Victory medals.


George subsequently enlisted at Derby into the 15th Battalion Sherwood Foresters (Nottinghamshire and Derbyshire Regiment) which had been raised in February 1915 by the Mayor and a committee as a bantam battalion. This regiment was so called because it initially enlisted men between the height of 5' and 5' 3" (George was 5ft.5¼ins). These regiments were introduced into the British Army in March 1915 as there were many men who did not meet the normal height requirements of the army but who wanted to fight for their country. When the need for more men became more desperate, it was decided that men of a smaller physique could be of use and after all, there were advantages in being small when in the trenches - you were less likely to be a target for German snipers. However, towards the end of the war the Bantam regiments gradually became ordinary divisions due to lack of reinforcements.

 

In March 1918 the regiment was serving in the Somme area. This was one of the most disastrous periods of the war. The German Army had begun a major offensive on 21st March and the British Army and its allies were driven back forty miles between 21st March and 4th April experiencing high casualties. On 26th March the 15th Battalion after heavy fighting, received orders to retire and a withdrawal having been effected, a position was occupied west of the River Ancre in front of Buire village. On 27th March the war diary states the day passed without incident and on 28th March "All quiet" is recorded. However, the Roll of Honour lists 65 men of the battalion having died on that day! One of those men was George Teather who is recorded as being killed in action in the Right Sector of the Divisional Front at Buire. He was 33 years of age when he died.

 

George has no known grave and is commemorated on the Pozières Memorial, Somme Department. This memorial contains the names of 14,644 men who went missing during the German offensive in spring 1918. Of those men 12,741 are from the first sixteen days of the offensive. This highlights the speed and efficiency of the German offensive at that time.



The citation in the Pozières Memorial Register reads as follows:


TEATHER, Private. George, 71603. 15th Battalion. Sherwood Foresters. 28th March, 1918. Age 33. Son of Mrs. Edwin Spencer, of Shelt Hill, Woodborough, Notts.


General view of the Pozières cemetery is shown in the photo on the right.



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