Courage and Self Sacrifice: George Peachment V.C.

George Peachment was born in Bury, Lancashire on the 5th of May 1897. His father, George senior was a hairdresser, Barber, and Newsagent originally from Norfolk, and his mother, Mary, was a school mistress from Cambridgeshire. The family moved to Bury following the Birth of their eldest son Charles. They had a second son, David, in 1895 and Shortly after George was born.

Private George Peachment V.C.

George joined the King’s Royal Rifle Corps at the start of the war, aged just 17, and was sent with the 2nd Battalion to France. During September 1915 his Battalion were involved in fierce fighting in and around Loos on the outskirts of Lens in France. An attack on German lines was planned for the 20th of September. Zero hour was 5.50am and the attack began with a gas attack and smoke shells, a decision which turned the attack into somewhat of a disaster.

Despite reassurances from the gas expert, the wind changed at 6am, and the gas drifted back especially onto “B” Company who suffered losses severe enough to put them out of action. Twenty minutes later the wind changed again, and the gas was turned back on again. At 6.34 the Battalion began to move forwards to attack the German lines; they could see nothing because of the smoke and gas between the lines and direction finding was extremely difficult. On reaching the enemy wire it was discovered that it had not been cut. To add to their problems the Battalion had been slow to advance and the Battalion had to fall back and regroup. A rally was made on the left and the Battalion was able to move up again, but no sooner had they moved forwards, the gas from the 15th Division drifted up to their position and they were again forced to withdraw.

The Battle of Hill 70

It was during the withdrawal that Private Peachment noticed his company commander, Captain Dubs lying wounded on the ground. Despite the fact that there was a shell hole close by in which several other men had found refuge, Private Peachment put his own safety aside and rushed to the aid of his Captain. As he knelt beside the wounded man, completely exposed to the enemy, and attempted to help him he was first wounded by a bomb, and then mortally wounded by a rifle bullet. He died on the Battlefield aged just 18, having made the ultimate sacrifice in an attempt to save the life of a fellow soldier.

For his actions on that day he was posthumously awarded the Victoria Cross on the 16th of November 1915. His actions were a striking example of courage, determination, loyalty, and self-sacrifice. So today we remember Private George Peachment V.C. A true hero.

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