South Africa Boer War and Great War Second Battle of Ypres 24th May 1915 temporary battalion commander casualty and subsequent April 1918 killed in action group awarded to Captain G.R. Barton, 11th Service Battalion, formerly 2nd Battalion, Cheshire Regiment, who studied medicine at Cambridge University, where he coxed the winning crew in the ‘Clinker Fours’ for Trinity Hall in 1893, then saw service as an officer with the Militia from 1897. Initially with the 6th Militia Battalion, Royal Irish Rifles, he transferred to the 4th Militia Battalion, Cheshire Regiment in May 1899, and then went on to see service during the Boer War, being at some stage the Assistant District Commissioner at Harrismith and Vrede in the Orange River Colony in 1900. Having then worked as a Medical Officer under the Transvaal Government circa 1903-1906, he was recalled for service during the Great War, and on being posted out to join the 2nd Battalion, Cheshire Regiment at a Captain, arrived on 23rd May 1915 to immediately assume command of a devastated battalion, the Second Battle of Ypres being then ongoing. The next day he led a counter-attack against German positions near Velorenhoek and was severely wounded and evacuated home. Returning to the front with the 11th Service Battalion in March 1918, he was killed in action with his battalion during severe fighting around Kemmel Hill on 10th April 1918.
Group of 4 and Plaque: Queen’s South Africa Medal 1899-1902, 4 Clasps: Cape Colony, Orange Free State, Transvaal, South Africa 1901; (CAPT G.R. BARTON. 4/CHESHIRE RGT.); 1914-1915 Star; (CAPT. G.R. BARTON. CHES.R.); British War Medal and Victory Medal; (CAPT. G.R. BARTON.); Memorial Plaque, named to; (GEORGE RAWDON BARTON), first mounted as individually worn, the trio with named card boxes of issue, large with protective card envelope and Buckingham Palace forwarding letter.
Condition: Extremely Fine.
Together with a Cambridge University Prize Medal for the Cambridge University Boat Club Clinker Fours won by Trinity Hall, dated 1893, silver, and sometime fitted with lunettes, one glass lunette now missing, the inside lid of the case has a silver plaque engraved with the name of the crew, 5 including the cox who was Barton. Also a Cheshire Regiment cap badge.
George Rawdon Barton was born in 1874, the son of James and Mary Barton, of Farndreg, Dundalk, he was educated at Monton Combe School followed by Trinity Hall, Cambridge University. Here he was part of the Trinity Hall ‘Clinker Fours’ boat race as a part of the Cambridge University Boat Club, and was a cox in the winning team for his college in 1893. Barton was studying in medicine, and qualified as a Licentiatew of both the Royal College of Surgeons and the Royal College of Physicians of Ireland.
Commissioned was a 2nd Lieutenant into the 6th Militia Battalion, Royal Irish Rifles on 14th April 1897, he transferred to the 4th Militia Battalion, Cheshire Regiment as a Lieutenant on 24th May 1899, and then went on to see service during the Boer War on operations in the Orange Free State from February to May 1900, in the Orange River Colony from May to 29th November 1900, and in the Cape Colony south of Orange River through 1899 to 1900, and operations in the Cape Colony from November to December 1901. In addition during 1900 he was appointed Assistant District Commissioner at Harrismith and Vrede in the Orange River Colony in 1900. Barton was promoted to Captain on 30th April 1901, and then moved to the 3rd Special Reserve Battalion, Cheshire Regiment, before retiring on 11th May 1902, being placed on the Reserve of Officers.
Barton clearly liked South Africa, as he returned there on 29th August 1903 as a Medical Officer under the Transvaal Government, and position he still held as of January 1906. He had returned home by the time he was recalled for service on the outbreak of the Great War, and was posted out to the Western Front to join the 2nd Battalion, Cheshire Regiment at Brandhoek in Belgium on 23rd May 1915, joining the battalion in the middle of the Second Battle of Ypres. On his arrival he was immediately placed in command of the devastated battalion, and the following day he led it in a counter-attack and was himself severely wounded near Velorenhoek.
At 4 am on the 24th May the battalion had left its billets and marched through Ypres to the firing line near Hell Fire Corner on the Menin Road. The regimental history states that “at dawn on the 24th May, the 85th Brigade was gassed and turned out of its trenches. The 2nd Battalion, under Captain G.R. Barton, was, in consequence, ordered at 5.45 am, to the General Headquarters Line which crossed the Menin Road at Hell Fire Corner and ran north to Potijze. They reached a point east of Vlamertinghe at 9.25 am and began to prepare their mid-day meal. Unfortunately, they were ordered forward before they could eat it. They moved forward dinner less, at noon, across country south of the Roulers Railway. In the front line, were the Northumberland Fusiliers and the 2nd Battalion, out left being the Railway, the Fusiliers directed on Wittepoort.
“The actually attacked started at 5 pm. There had been no chance of cooking food and the men were all tired and famished, besides being without experience. Direction and cohesion were soon lost, but a few men got within 200 yards of the German line and dug themselves in… by now the Northumberland Fusiliers had been completely wiped out. The battalion’s of the 80th Brigade were driven back and retired behind the line of the 84th Brigade. Six officers were killed, out C.O., Captain Barton , and nine other officers were wounded and 279 men casualties.
Barton was evacuated home, where he eventually recovered, and in March 1918 was posted back out to the Western Front to join the 11th Service Battalion, Cheshire Regiment at Ploegsteert Wood. Barton was killed in action with his battalion during severe fighting around Kemmel Hill on 10th April 1918, and having no known grave, he is commemorated by name on the Ploegsteert Memorial.