George Hoar

1849 and 265166 Private George Hoar, Hertfordshire Regiment

Born in 1892 in Hudnall
Killed in Action 31st July 1917 in Belgium

Family and Home 1, 2, 3

George Hoar was born in Hudnall, the 7th of the 10 children of Edward Hoar and Sophia, née Whitman. His father farmed Hudnall Farm where the family lived throughout George’s life.

His siblings were:

  • Brother: Edward Hoar, born 25th Aug. 1879
  • Sister: Nellie, born 5th October 1880
  • Brother: William George, born 5th July 1882
  • Brother: Frank, born 1st May 1884
  • Sister: Annie, born 30th December 1886
  • Sister: Lily, born 15th December 1889
  • Brother: Richard Hoar, born 26th April 1893
  • Sister: Edith, born 27th October 1894
  • Sister: Mary, born 12th June 1897

Education 4

George started at Little Gaddesden School on 26th April 1897 when he was 5 years old. He left school, aged 13, on 10th May 1905 with a Certificate of Attendance; he was going to work on his father’s farm.

Employment 5

In the 1911 Census, 19 year old George is shown as a Farmer’s Son working on the Farm. His brothers Frank, 26, and Richard, 17, were similarly employed.

Military Service 6

George enlisted into the Hertfordshire Regiment at Ashridge. He was serving in the 1st Battalion at the time of his death.

Death in Belgium 7

On 31st July 1917, the first day of the Third Battle of Ypres, 26 year old Private George Hoar, Hertfordshire Regiment, was killed in action near St Julien (Sint-Juliaan on today’s maps). The actions of the 1st Battalion, Hertfordshire Regiment on that day are set out on the Memorial which was unveiled exactly 100 years later.

Photo of the Herts Memorial at St Julien
Photo courtesy of Doug Adams

It is located at the exact spot near St Julien which the “Herts Guards” reached on 31st July 1917. The memorial includes a dedication, a map and an explanation of the choice of location. The inscription reads:

This memorial is dedicated to the Officers and Men of the 1st Battalion Hertfordshire Regiment who fought in The Great War 1914 – 1918.

The explanation states that:

At 10.10 am on the morning of the 31st July 1917 around 620 men of the 1st Battalion Hertfordshire Regiment attacked German positions on the Pilkem Ridge, the final objective of the opening day of the 3rd Battle of Ypres. After leaving the Steenbeck River the Battalion came under heavy machine gun fire as they advanced towards their objectives. This memorial marks the point of the furthest advance of the Battalion that day. By midday, suffering heavy casualties, the Battalion was forced to withdraw in the face of a fierce enemy counter-attack. Over the next hour the remnants of the Battalion conducted a fighting withdrawal to their starting position, leaving behind every officer and 75% of other ranks, killed, wounded or captured.

George Hoar and his first cousin Arthur Whitman were two of the Herts Guards killed in action that day.

“I’m afraid there isn’t any Hertfordshire Regiment” 8

Much later on 31st July 1917, in “the inferno of shells exploding on the front around St Julien”, the four Company Quartermaster Sergeants of the 1st Battalion Hertfordshire Regiment were looking for their battalion. The ground was impassable in places but they had kept on going with their small party because they were bringing the Herts’ supper – rations for 600 men. But even with mules they couldn’t get beyond the first German line. In Lyn Macdonald’s book “They Called it Passchendaele”, Quartermaster Sergeant G.W. Fisher’s account, given years later, is included:

There were four Company Quartermaster Sergeants, myself and three others, and we decided between us that two of us should go forward to try and find the Battalion, one would stay with the rations, and the other one would try to find Brigade Headquarters to get some indication as to where the battalion might be. We tossed up for different jobs and it fell to my lot to have to find Brigade Headquarters, so I set off. There was a most tremendous bombardment going on all the while. After a long time I found the Brigade Headquarters. They were in an underground German concrete pillbox just in front of St Julien. I went down the stairs, saluted the Brigadier, told him who I was, explained the position and said, ‘Could you give me any instructions, sir, that would help me to find the battalion?’ He just stood there and looked at me. We were both standing on the steps and the pillbox was rocking like a boat in a rough sea with explosions. After a while he said, ‘I’m sorry Quarters, I’m afraid there isn’t any Hertfordshire Regiment’.

Macdonald, Lyn (1978), “They Called it Passchendaele”

Commemoration in Belgium 7

Private George Hoar has no known grave. He is commemorated on the Ypres (Menin Gate) Memorial, West-Vlaanderen, Belgium, in the South Loggia at Panel 56, Stone E, and is listed at the bottom of the first column of Hertfordshire Regiment Privates simply as:

Hoar G.

Photo of the Menin Gate, (south loggia)
Menin Gate, South Loggia. Photo courtesy of David Heard
Photo of George Hoar's commemoration on the Menin Gate Memorial
Menin Gate, Panel 56. Photo courtesy of David Heard

By the time the CWGC Grave Registration Reports were compiled in the 1920s, George’s parents had given up Hudnall Farm and moved to 5 Hudnall, now part of Hudnall House. His CWGC entry therefore describes him as “Son of Edward and Sophia Hoar, of 5, Hudnall, Berkhamsted, Herts”.

We will remember them 9

George Hoar is commemorated on the War Memorials on the village green and in St Peter & St Paul’s Church Little Gaddesden. He is also named on the Roll of Honour in the church, together with his older brother Edward Hoar (Army Service Corps) and younger brother Richard Hoar (Hertfordshire Regiment), who both survived the war. His uncle Joseph Whitman and six of his first cousins are also named on the Roll of Honour: Donald W Goodman, Samuel Oakins R.I.P., Stephen Oakins, Arthur Whitman R.I.P., Francis J Whitman and James Whitman.

George was posthumously awarded the British War Medal and the Allied Victory Medal.

References

1. https://www.findmypast.co.uk England & Wales births 1837-2006 Transcriptions

2. https://www.findmypast.co.uk 1939 Register

3. https://www.findmypast.co.uk 1901 England, Wales & Scotland Census Transcription

4. Little Gaddesden School Log Books 1887 – 1906

5. https://www.findmypast.co.uk  1911 Census for England & Wales

6. https://www.ancestry.co.uk UK, Soldiers Died in the Great War 1914 – 1919

7. https://www.cwgc.org/find-war-dead/casualty/1614314/hoar,-george/

8. Macdonald, Lyn (1978), “They Called it Passchendaele”, Book Club Associates (by arrangement with Michael Joseph Ltd).

9. https://www.ancestry.co.uk  British Army WW1 Medal Rolls Index Cards 1914-1920

Research, text and (unless otherwise credited) photos: Jane Dickson