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WW1 Heroes
22 George John  Rowland Blackwell
2nd Lt. 2nd/6th Battalion Manchester Regiment "Kaiserschaft"   "The   Imperial   Battle"   was   how   Ludendorff,   the   overall   German   commander   described   the   coming offensive   in   Spring   1918.   Ludendorff   had   good   and   bad   news   at   the   end   of   1917.   The   good   news   was   the   Russian Revolution   which   resulted   in   a   peace   between   Russia   and   Germany,   thus   releasing   a   huge   number   of   men   and supplies   from   the   Eastern   Front   at   a   time   when   both   sides   in   France   were   sadly   lacking   both   equipment   and   energy to   continue   the   war.   Britain   and   its   allies   were   suffering   shortages   of   men   and   the   numbers   being   recruited   were   less than   those   being   lost.   Morale   was   low   but,   at   least,   the   men   were   given   good   basic   food   whereas   the   German enemy   were   not   so   lucky.   Germany   was   hard   pushed   to   feed   their   army   as   they   had   no   support   from   an   Empire which was so vital to the Allied cause. Ludendorff’s   bad   news   was   the   coming   of   the Americans.   Promising   a   million   men,   untried   but   fresh,   would   no   doubt have   an   influence   on   future   events.   The   German   High   Command   saw   a   weakness   in   the   Allied   infrastructure   and decided   that   the   taking   of   the   town   of Amiens   would   cripple   the   communications   between   the   northern   and   southern ends   of   the   front.   This   would   create   huge   supply   difficulties   for   the   Allies   and   would   allow   the   Germans   to   take   the initiative and hopefully to put the Allies in a position where they were forced to settle for peace. Ludendorff   had   little   time   and   set   his   offensive   for   late   March   1918.   Not   only   was   his   army   invigorated   by   the   sudden reinforcement   of   troops   from   the   east   but   facing   them   on   the   route   to   Amiens   was   General   Gough's   5 th    Army,   tired and   under   strength   following   the   autumn   offensives.   Amongst   Gough's   Army   was   the   66 th    East   Lancs   Division,   part of   which   was   the   199 th    Manchester   Brigade   which   included   the   6 th    Battalion   Manchesters   and   Avening's   George Blackwell. George   was   born   at   Barton   End,   Horsley   in   1897,   the   son   of   John   Howard   Blackwell,   a   farmer   at   Barton   End,   who married   Mary   Ann   Rowland,   an   Avening   girl   born   and   baptised   at   Holy   Cross   Church   in   1864.   John   and   Mary married   at   Holy   Cross   on   Thursday   the   9 th    of April   1896. At   the   time   of   the   1901   census,   George   was   living   with   his grandmother (Mary's mother) at Church Farm, Avening along with his uncles and aunts. We   know   little   of   his   service   career   although   he   probably   enlisted   during   1916   as   we   know   that   he   initially   served with   the   Royal   Field Artillery.   However,   he   took   a   commission   at   the   end   of August   1917   and   joined   the   Manchester Regiment. He became part of the 2 nd /6 th  Battalion Manchesters and joined them in France at the early part of 1918. He   was   facing   Ludendorff’s   rejuvenated   armies   who   launched   their   offensive   (now   known   as   "Operation   Michael")   at 4.40   am   on Thursday   the   21 st    of   March   1918.   It   was   at   this   hour   that   the   inevitable   artillery   barrage   commenced   and up   and   down   the   forty   miles   of   front   some   4,000   field   guns,   2600   heavy   guns   and   3500   mortars   were   brought   to bear,   supplemented   by   two   sorts   of   gas   attacks.   The   barrage   lasted   for   5   hours   and   then   100   divisions   of   men advanced   upon   the   stunned   Allies.   All   was   confusion   and   the   Allied   troops   were   forced   to   retreat.   At   times,   the enemy   did   not   bother   with   the   front   line   but   sped   past   to   wreak   havoc   in   the   supply   trenches   and   rearward   artillery. The   Manchesters   took   part   in   the   Battle   of   St.   Quentin   between   the   21 st    and   23 rd    of   March,   the   battle   to   try   to   stop the   Somme   crossings   on   the   24 th    and   25 th    and   the   battle   for   Rosières   on   the   26 th    and   27 th .   The   attacks   went   on   for the   best   part   of   eight   days,   the   German   advance   only   stuttering   when   stores   of   Allied   food   were   taken,   the temptation   to   halt   momentarily   being   too   great.   However,   halt   it   finally   did   on   the   30 th    of   March   when   the   Germans outran   their   supplies   and   counterattacks   became   more   organised   and   meaningful.   Amiens   was   not   taken.   The Commonwealth   War   Graves   Commission   quotes   George's   date   of   death   as   Saturday   the   30 th    of   March   and   we know that the remaining men of the 2 nd /6 th  Battalion Manchesters were withdrawn from the front on that day. So   few   of   the   battalion   survived   that   it   was   withdrawn   from   the   battlefield   completely.   He   has   no   known   grave   but   is remembered   on   the   Pozières   memorial.   His   name   is   carved   upon   our   church   Roll   of   Honour   and   he   is   also mentioned   on   his   grandparent's   headstone   in Avening   churchyard   and   on   Horsley   War   Memorial.   He   was   21   years old and was posthumously awarded the Victory Medal and the British Medal. We are indebted to his nephew, Rowland Blackwell of Barton End for his assistance.
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22 George John  Rowland Blackwell
2nd Lt. 2nd/6th Battalion Manchester Regiment "Kaiserschaft" "The Imperial Battle" was how Ludendorff, the overall German commander described the coming offensive in Spring 1918. Ludendorff had good and bad news at the end of 1917. The good news was the Russian Revolution which resulted in a peace between Russia and Germany, thus releasing a huge number of men and supplies from the Eastern Front at a time when both sides in France were sadly lacking both equipment and energy to continue the war. Britain and its allies were suffering shortages of men and the numbers being recruited were less than those being lost. Morale was low but, at least, the men were given good basic food whereas the German enemy were not so lucky. Germany was hard pushed to feed their army as they had no support from an Empire which was so vital to the Allied cause. Ludendorff’s bad news was the coming of the Americans. Promising a million men, untried but fresh, would no doubt have an influence on future events. The German High Command saw a weakness in the Allied infrastructure and decided that the taking of the town of Amiens would cripple the communications between the northern and southern ends of the front. This would create huge supply difficulties for the Allies and would allow the Germans to take the initiative and hopefully to put the Allies in a position where they were forced to settle for peace. Ludendorff had little time and set his offensive for late March 1918. Not only was his army invigorated by the sudden reinforcement of troops from the east but facing them on the route to Amiens was General Gough's 5th Army, tired and under strength following the autumn offensives. Amongst Gough's Army was the 66th East Lancs Division, part of which was the 199th Manchester Brigade which included the 6th Battalion Manchesters and Avening's George Blackwell. George was born at Barton End, Horsley in 1897, the son of John Howard Blackwell, a farmer at Barton End, who married Mary Ann Rowland, an Avening girl born and baptised at Holy Cross Church in 1864. John and Mary married at Holy Cross on Thursday the 9th of April 1896. At the time of the 1901 census, George was living with his grandmother (Mary's mother) at Church Farm, Avening along with his uncles and aunts. We know little of his service career although he probably enlisted during 1916 as we know that he initially served with the Royal Field Artillery. However, he took a commission at the end of August 1917 and joined the Manchester Regiment. He became part of the 2nd/6th Battalion Manchesters and joined them in France at the early part of 1918. He was facing Ludendorff’s rejuvenated armies who launched their offensive (now known as "Operation Michael") at 4.40 am on Thursday the 21st of March 1918. It was at this hour that the inevitable artillery barrage commenced and up and down the forty miles of front some 4,000 field guns, 2600 heavy guns and 3500 mortars were brought to bear, supplemented by two sorts of gas attacks. The barrage lasted for 5 hours and then 100 divisions of men advanced upon the stunned Allies. All was confusion and the Allied troops were forced to retreat. At times, the enemy did not bother with the front line but sped past to wreak havoc in the supply trenches and rearward artillery. The Manchesters took part in the Battle of St. Quentin between the 21st and 23rd of March, the battle to try to stop the Somme crossings on the 24th and 25th and the battle for Rosières on the 26th and 27th. The attacks went on for the best part of eight days, the German advance only stuttering when stores of Allied food were taken, the temptation to halt momentarily being too great. However, halt it finally did on the 30th of March when the Germans outran their supplies and counterattacks became more organised and meaningful. Amiens was not taken. The Commonwealth War Graves Commission quotes George's date of death as Saturday the 30th of March and we know that the remaining men of the 2nd/6th Battalion Manchesters were withdrawn from the front on that day. So few of the battalion survived that it was withdrawn from the battlefield completely. He has no known grave but is remembered on the Pozières memorial. His name is carved upon our church Roll of Honour and he is also mentioned on his grandparent's headstone in Avening churchyard and on Horsley War Memorial. He was 21 years old and was posthumously awarded the Victory Medal and the British Medal. We are indebted to his nephew, Rowland Blackwell of Barton End for his assistance.
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