George Garforth was a member of the Halifax Industrial Society. He worked as an assistant at the Queen’s Road branch, where he was well respected by both customers and staff. Garforth was very well known around Halifax as a member of the Halifax Swimming Club, for which he had won various competitions for the backstroke and breaststroke. He was also a keen polo player, and played for the Halifax Polo Club.
Garforth was enlisted in the Duke of Wellington’s (West Riding) Regiment, 7th Battalion, and dispatched to the Western Front. Unhappily, he was killed in action at the same time as his brother on 6 May 1915 during the Battle of Hill 60, aged 23. Hill 60 was just south of Ypres in Flanders, and was fought over in order to claim the high ground around the town. This was advantageous as it offered a view of most of the surrounding area, including of the railway line, roads and outlying lands.
He was killed as a result of a gas attack on his position. The use of gas in warfare had previously been banned, but its use on the Western Front was common throughout the First World War, in an attempt to break the stalemate between the two sides. His parents were not informed of his death or the death of his brother until the end of August.
Co-operative News, 11 September 1915, page 1229.
WWI co-operative voices
This post is part of ‘WWI co-operative voices’ which shares the stories of co-operative workers and members during the conflict. In order to mark the centenary of the WWI, the Rochdale Pioneers Museum is staging an exhibition entitled ‘From shop floor to front line’ and the accounts of these soldiers, shop workers and conscientious objectors will run alongside it. They are tales of death, duty and of those who chose not to fight.
Through ‘WWI co-operative voices’ we will be releasing new posts about these individuals throughout the duration of the exhibition (due to open mid-May 2015 and run until May 2016). Read about the co-operative movement’s involvement in a war that shook the world by selecting a name from the column on the left. You can also follow us on social media for regular updates.
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We wish to thank the Heritage Lottery Fund for supporting the ‘From shop floor to front line’ exhibition and project.