24041 6th Bn., Leicestershire Regiment who died on 25 September 1916

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George Edward Usher was born in Northampton in 1895. He had three sisters and was the second son of Samuel James Usher and his wife Jane (nee Hyde). The parents, who married in 1884, were originally from the West Country: Samuel from Bradford on Avon, Wiltshire and Jane from Wincanton, Somerset. The family were involved in the fine leather industry which likely prompted its moves to Croydon, Northampton and finally Leicester. In 1911 Samuel Snr was a boot repairer and barter (trader in skins) and Jane was a glover. George’s eldest sister Emily was a “fitter-shoes” and his brother Samuel a “Clerk-leather”. Another sister Jennie was employed as a teacher. The youngest child Mildred May was still at school.  Edward gave his occupation as Art Student. Given the family’s trade, he was possibly studying at the Leicester School of Technology which trained designers and draftsmen for Leicester’s main industries: footwear, hosiery and printing.

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Edward’s family were employed in the leather trade

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In 1911 the Usher family home was 8, The Villas, Stoughton Green, Oadby.

Edward enlisted in the 6th (Service) Battalion of the Leicestershire Regiment which was formed in August 1914 as part of Kitchener’s First New Army (K1). From Glen Parva Barracks, South Wigston Edward moved to Aldershot for basic training. In April 1915 the 6th Leicesters transferred to the 110th Brigade of the 37th Division and were posted to Salisbury Plain. The Brigade was mobilised for war and landed in Boulogne, France on 29 July 1915. For many of the men of Kitchener’s Army, the majority of whom would not have ventured beyond their home town, the landing in Boulogne must have seemed an exciting adventure.

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Boulogne. Edward disembarked here on 29 July 1915

On 7 July 1916 the 110th Brigade was transferred to 21st Division to take part in the ‘big push’ which had begun on the Somme. During July and August they took part in the battles of Bazentin Ridge, Flers-Corcelette and Morval. The war diary of the Leicestershire Regiment describes the events of 25 September 1916. The 6th Leicesters were to act as support for the 8th and 9th Leicesters’ assault on the village of Gueudecourt. At 1pm they advanced from assembly trenches outside Delville Wood to occupy trenches vacated by the 8th and 9th Battalions. Crossing open land “they were attacked by enemy machine guns in Gird Trench, and they had a good many casualties from these machine guns” including both company commanders. Private George Edward Usher was killed in this action.

guegucourtTrenches at Gueudecourt 1916

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Edward’s body, like so many others, was lost on the battlefield and his death was not notified until September 1917.  His father had died at the end of 1916 and Jane moved to 12 Lavender Road, Leicester. (Leicester Mercury 15 September 1917). He is Remembered with Honour on the Thiepval Memorial.

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Thiepval Memorial to the Missing