Lieutenant Geoffrey Charles Norton WARDLEY


Regiment/Service:
Royal Garrison Artillery
Unit:
24th Siege Battery
Service Number:
n/a
Date of Death:
24 July 1916 - Died of wounds
Age:
24
Cemetery / Memorial:
Grave Number:
II. A. 35.


Personal History:

Geoffrey was born in the September quarter 1891 (Baptised 20 December), probably at Eagle Parade, Buxton (1891 Census RG 12/2778), the son of Charles Furniss (Newspaper Proprietor) and Lucy Wardley, later (after the War) of 115 Station Road, Pendlebury, Manchester.  [See Footnote below]

He had two older brothers, Frank and Arthur N., and a younger sister, Margaret (1901 Census RG 13/3270). At that time the family were living at 23 Silverlands, Buxton.

In 1911 (Census RG 14/9127) Geoffrey was a student at Trinity College, Cambridge and living at St Andrews, Chesterton Lane, Cambridge, and played cricket for his College. He was also a member of the Officer Training Corps (O.T.C.) Before going up to Cambridge he was at School at Eton.

(Wisden Almanac for 1917 records Deaths in action and says:
"LIEUT. GEOFFREY CHARLES NORTON WARDLEY (R.G.A.), who died of wounds on July 24, aged 24, was not in the Eleven whilst at Eton, but played for Trinity College whilst at Cambridge.")

Indian Civil Service Records show that had War not been declared Geoffrey had been successful in the Open Competition (1914) and allotted a post in the Bihar and Orissa Province.
Probate Records show that Geoffrey's address at the time of his death was 16 Herbert Street, Whitworth, Manchester. His estate, left to his father, amounted to 267. 0s. 7d. [267.03] - a relative value of about 17,210.00 today (2017). In addition 'The Register of Soldiers' Effects" shows that between 16 August and 13 October 1916 the content of Geoffrey's four bank accounts were also returned to his family, amounting in total to 99 5s 6d (99.27, an equivalent value of about 6,400 today - 2017).


Military History:

Geoffrey was Gazetted 2nd Lieutenant from the Cambridge O.T.C. on 23rd September 1914 (London Gazette 29 September 1914).  This was amended later to read "Geoffrey Charles Norton Wardley. Dated 29th September, 1914" - i.e. not as previously stated - though a difference of 6 days hardly seems significant. (London Gazette 20th October 1914) This date of promotion was later amended again to 6th October 1914. (London Gazette 6th January 1915)

Geoffrey entered France, according to his Medal Index Card, on 21st August 1915 and was later
promoted to Lieutenant. This date coincides with the date the 24th Siege Battery, Royal Garrison
Artillery, proceeded to France. The Battery arrived just in time to take part in the Battle of Loos.
On several occasions the Battery was attacked with gas shells.

Siege Batteries were deployed behind the front line, tasked with destroying enemy artillery,
supply routes, railways and stores. The batteries were equipped with heavy Howitzer guns
firing large calibre 4, 6, 8 or 9.2 inch shells in a high trajectory.  24th Siege Battery operated
4 x 6 in howitzers each of 26 cwt (1320 kgs) and was part of the 14th Heavy Artillery Group
during the Battle of the Somme.

It is likely, therefore, that he was wounded at some time during this Battle and subsequently
died of his wounds. He is buried at Bronfay Farm, used by British troops particularly during
the Battle of the Somme, when the XIV Corps Main Dressing station was at the farm.

Footnote:
Geoffrey's father, Charles Furniss Wardley, J.P., later of 115 Station Road, Pendlebury, was formerly
of Wakefield and Buxton and from December 1907 was a Magistrate for Derbyshire. In 1910 he sold
the proprietorship of the High Peak News, the Buxton Advertiser and the Matlock Guardian, and a
printing, publishing and account book manufacturing business, to the Derbyshire Printing Co Ltd for
11,600 - a relative value of 1,033,000.00 today [2014].

Sources:
National Army Museum; Chelsea, London, England; Soldiers' Effects Records, 1901-60


Commemorated on:
Geoffrey is also commemorated on his parents grave in St Paul's Churchyard,
  Kersal Moor, Manchester (picture right)
Link to CWGC Record
poppy
Lt Wardley's Grave
A Royal Garrison Artillery Howitzer
[AWM photograph E04820]