14272, 9th Bn., South Lancashire Regiment
Died 18th September 1918 Aged 25
Son of Nathaniel Lewis Collins and Sarah Collins of 8 Kimberley Road, Sketty, Glam.
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Remembered with Honour
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Born in Swansea in the summer of 1893, George was the oldest son of Nathaniel Lewis and Sarah Collins, both born in 1871 and married in 1891. Nathaniel was a house plasterer in 1901 and 1911.
George lived with his parents, sister and brother at 14 Roseland Terrace, Sketty, in 1901. Ten years later in 1911 when he was aged 17 he was still living with his parents, as well as his sister and 3 younger brothers but at 8 Kimberley Road, Sketty, and worked as a ‘rider’ in Clyne Valley Colliery.
He was still working at the Colliery when he enlisted in Swansea on January 1915 in the Swansea Battalion, no. 14272.
George Collins was killed in action on 18th September 1918 by which time he had been promoted to Corporal in the 9th Battalion Prince of Wales’ Volunteers, South Lancashire Regiment. He was 8 weeks short of surviving the war.
MISSING. Mr. and Mrs. Collins, 8, Kimberley Road, Sketty, has received official news that her son, Corpi. George Collins, South Lanes. Regiment, has been reported missing since the 18th September, 1918. Corporal Collins has been in several battles, and was fighting on the Balkan front. Corporal Collins has been in the Army four years, and has not been home for three years. Prior to joining the colours Corporal Collins was employed at the dyne Valley Colliery. He is 25 years old.
Cambrian Daily Leader 15th October 1918
SKETTY – SOLDIER – KILLED. –
News has been received by Mr. and Collins of Kimberley Road, Sketty, that their son, Corporal George Collins, late of South Lancs., has been killed. Before joining up he was employed at Clyne Valley Colliery. He enlisted in September, 1914, and was reported, missing on September 18, 1918.
Reported in South Wales Weekly Post 1st November 1919.
He was killed in Greece during the attack on Pip Ridge and the Grand Couronne, part of the Battle of Doiran during the Salonika campaign. His body was not recovered and he is commemorated on the Doiran Memorial. This Memorial stands near Doiran Military Cemetery, which is situated in the north of Greece close to the Macedonia border and near the south-east shore of Lake Doiran. The Memorial stands on what was called Colonial Hill, and can be seen from a distance as a landmark. It stands roughly in the centre of the line occupied for two years by the Allies in the region. It marks the scene of the fierce fighting of 1917-1918, which caused the majority of the Commonwealth battle casualties during the campaign.
The memorial serves the dual purpose of Battle Memorial of the British Salonika Force (for which a large sum of money was subscribed by the officers and men of that force), and place of commemoration for more than 2,000 Commonwealth servicemen who died in Macedonia and whose graves are not known. From October 1915 to the end of November 1918, the British Salonika Force suffered some 2,800 deaths in action, 1,400 from wounds and 4,200 from sickness. The campaign afforded few successes for the Allies, and none of any importance until the last two months.
The Second Battle of Doiran (18-19 September 1918)
At the beginning of 1918 the Allied troops in Salonika were prepared for a major offensive intended to end the war in the Balkan region. The Greek Army had been reorganised and joined the Allied force. The offensive began in July 1918 but the British contingent did not play a significant part until early September. Then the British attacked a series of fortified hills. The final assault began along the whole front on 15 September 1918; the British being engaged in the Lake Doiran area. This battle was really on the 18 and 19 September 1918 and was a disaster for the British Divisions. They had to frontally assault ‘Pip Ridge’ which was a 2,000 foot high heavily defended mountain ridge with fortresses built on some of the higher mountains, notably Grand Couronne. They sustained very heavy casualties. The South Lancashire Regiment attacked Pip Ridge on the 18th with ‘consumate gallantry and self-sacrifice’ (including George Collins) but, despite initial success, were compelled to withdraw after several hours of fierce fighting with two thirds casualties.
“The Battle of Doiran is now a forgotten episode of the Great War, overshadowed by the doings of Haig in France and Allenby in Palestine. There was no full contemporary account of the Battle in any British Newspaper. Sir George Milne’s dispatch was not published and did not appear in the Times until January 23rd 1919, and then only in truncated form. The very name of the battle is unknown to most. Yet, in singularity of horror and in tragedy of defeated heroism, it is unique among the records of British arms.
The real work of the assault was entrusted to the men of the 22nd and 26th Divisions, who were to attack the Doiran hills, co-operating with the Cretan Division of the Greek Army and a regiment of unreliable Zouaves. In the early light of an almost unclouded morning the British and Greek forces advanced in order of battle. The noise of our guns had abruptly ceased before daybreak, and there came that awful pause in which defenders and attackers are braced up to face the ordeal, with fear or desperation, with cool courage or with blazing ardour. Slowly the pale grey smoke lifted in layers of thin film above the ridges, blue shadows deep in every fold or hollow and a dim golden glow on scrub, rock and heather. No one could tell what had been the effect of our gunfire upon those fortified hills. The infantry soldier relies upon the guns behind him, trusting in their power to smash a way for his advance by killing or demoralizing the enemy and cutting up his defences. In this case, if he had any hopes or illusions, the infantry soldier was quickly undeceived.
Our attack on ‘Pip Ridge’ was led by 12th Cheshires. The battle opened with a crash of machine-gun fire, and a cloud of dusty smoke began to blur the outline of the hills, Almost immediately the advancing battalion was overwhelmed in a deadly steam of bullets which came whipping and whistling down the open slopes. Those who survived were followed by a battalion of Lancashire men, and a remnant of this undaunted infantry fought its way over the first and second lines of trenches – if indeed the term” line “can be applied to a highly complicated and irregular system of defence, taking full advantage of every fold or contortion of the ground. In its turn, a Shropshire battalion ascended the fatal ridge. By this time the battle of the “Pips” was a mere confusion of massacre, noise and futile bravery. Nearly all the men of the first two battalions were lying dead or wounded on the hillside. Colonel Clegg and Colonel Bishop were killed; the few surviving troops were toiling and fighting in what appeared to be inevitable and immediate death. The attack was ending in a bloody disaster. No orders could reach the isolated cluster of men who were still trying to advance on the ridge. Contact aeroplanes came roaring down through the yellow haze of dust and smoke, hardly able to see what was going on, and even flying below the levels of the Ridge and Grand Couronne. There was only one possible ending to the assault. Our troops in the military phrase of their commander, “fell back to their original positions.” Of this falling back I will say nothing. There are times when even desperate heroism has to acknowledge defeat.”
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COLLINS George – died on 18th September 1918 aged 25 years. He was a corporal in the South Lancs Regiment (gth Bn). His service number was 14273. He is remembered on the DOIRAN Memorial. He was the son of Nathaniel Lewis Collins and Sarah Collins (8, Kimberley Road, Sketty).
In the 1911 census, before he joined up, he lived at the above address. He was the eldest of five children alive at the time. Two siblings had already died. His father was a plasterer. George’s occupation is described as “rider in the colliery below”. His sister, Florence, born in 1896 was in domestic service, his brother, James (1898), was in school and his youngest siblings, Earnest (sic) (1902) and Stanley (1904) were not listed as being at school. His mother spoke English and Welsh.
In the 1901 census the family lived at 14, Roseland Terrace, which was then in the parish of Cockett. His parents were both born in 1872. In this census it states that Sarah was born in Carmarthen.
In the 1891 census we travel back a generation to his paternal grandparents. They lived at 88, Fleet Street, Swansea. His grandmother, Ann, was a widow (born 1833, Ilfracombe). His uncle, William (1868) was a general labourer. His father was already employed as a plasterer. He had two aunts, Susan (1875) and Elizabeth (1883) and an uncle, George (1877, labourer).
In the 1881 census, this family lived at 16, Fleet Street. His grandfather, George (1834) was a farm labourer (born Berrynarbor, N Devon). The family then consisted of John (1865, mason’s labourer), William (scholar), Nathaniel (scholar), Susan (scholar) and George (scholar).
In the 1871 census the family lived in Delhi Street, St. Thomas. George was a labourer in a fuel works. Also living there were his wife Ann, and children Mary J (1860), Annie L (1863), John, William and George.
In the 1861 census the family lived in 73, Rodney Street. George was an agricultural labourer.
In the 1851 census, GEORGE (1834) was living in Easwell, Morthoe, Devon. He was a farm servant living with the HARTNOLL family.
In 1841 George lived at Venter of Woolscott Clift, Berrynarbor with his parents, John (1791) and Elizabeth (1801). John was an agricultural labourer. Their children were Ann (1829), Susan (1833), GEORGE (1835), Jane (1836) and Richard (1839).They were all born in Devon.
Roseland Terrace, is now known as Kimberley Road.