Chafer – Private George William (Willie)

16 April 1894 – 1 March 1966:-

George, known as Willie, was born in Bradford, Yorkshire. His father was unknown, and he spent most of his early life living with his grandparents. He later moved to Rotherham where he worked as a weigh clerk at Silverwood Colliery.  He enlisted into the 1st Battalion East Yorkshire Regiment in June 1915.

On 3rd/4th June 1916 east of Méaulte, Somme, France, during a very heavy bombardment and attack on our trenches, a man carrying an important written message to his commanding officer was half buried and rendered unconscious by a shell. Private Chafer, at once grasping the situation, on his own initiative, took the message from the man’s pocket and, although severely wounded, choking and blinded by gas, ran along the ruined parapet under heavy shell and machine-gun fire.

Willie sustained an injury to his leg which meant it had to be amputated. Medically discharged from the Army in December 1916, he returned to Rotherham and worked for the Ministry of Labour and National Service in Rotherham and Lincolnshire for 35 years.  He was a local councillor and Chairman of Bramley Parish Council until he retired in April 1959. He was a founder member of the Fellowship of the Services, a long-time member of the British Legion and one-time President of the Wickersley Branch.

During the Second World War, Willie served in the Home Guard as a platoon sergeant.

His medals are held in The Yorkshire Regiment collections at York Army Museum.

Filed under: WW1