Hull Pals Memorial Post. PRIVATE GEORGE WILLIAM WILLEY 11/1222. Born in September 1893, George was the only child of William Richard Willey and Sarah Willey. His father died when George was just a toddler so George and Sarah lived with his Grandad at 2 Bilsby Terrace, Durham Street, Hull. A Clerk before the war, George enlisted on 12th December 1914 at City Hall joining the 11th Battalion East Yorkshire Regiment, ‘The Tradesmen’, 2nd Hull Pals. Already a veteran of Egypt and the Somme by then, and a hardened soldier who’d seen many of his friends die in the mud, George was charged with failing to comply with an order on 26th March 1917 for the crime of “not taking a cigarette out of his mouth when ordered to.” This immediately paints a picture of James Dean in khaki, tired of petty orders from fools and rebelling in whatever way he can. It was his last stand. Six weeks later he was dead; killed in action on 3rd May as the Pals attacked Oppy Wood. At least he wasn’t denied the simple dignity of a burial like so many of his comrades, George was buried in Orchard Dump Cemetery; he was 23 years old. Sarah Willey was now completely alone.
ORCHARD DUMP CEMETERY, ARLEUX-EN-GOHELLE, FRANCE
2 BILSBY TERRACE, DURHAM STREET, HULL, EAST YORKSHIRE, UK