George Fearn, like most of those who served, wrote letters home – in George’s case to his wife May. Fortunately, May kept his letters including some from before the war.
Private George FEARN, Service Number 242539
1/6th Bn Prince of Wales’s (North Staffordshire) Regiment
Killed in action on 24th May 1917, aged 41
Commemorated on the Arras Memorial, Arras, France
And also on the Tutbury War Memorial, the Nestle & Order of Odd Fellows plaques
George Fearn was born in January 1876 in Tutbury, Staffordshire. He was employed as a grocer’s carter. He courted Bertha May Farmer (known as May) mainly by letter and the occasional meeting.They were eventually married on 25th September 1911 in the Parish Church in Marston-on-Dove, George was 35 and May was 28. They moved to 30 Castle Street, Tutbury and their daughter Daisy Evelyn was born on 3rd May 1913.
George worked for only 6 weeks at the Tutbury Milk Condensery (Nestle) before being conscripted for Military Service. In mid-June 1916, he was posted to the North Staffordshire Regiment, first at Barracks in Lichfield, Catterick and Lincoln. Again he was a prolific letter writer, often thanking her for his washing and for her parcels and always finishing with “I remain your loving husband George”. Their second daughter Dorothy was born on 6th October 1916.
Much correspondence was from a loving husband and father, who was so grateful for the small gifts (of gloves, cake, etc) that May sent. On 13th December 1916, George wrote that he was “picked out to go to France”. He had applied for leave “but I do not know if I shall or not, I hope I do I am longing to see you all again.”
He wrote wistfully from Folkestone on Christmas Eve, “I wish you were here with me for a week it would be grand then and the children would like it too… but never mind Dearest when I come back safe we will have a holiday together won’t we?” He crossed to Calais on Boxing Day.
There were only pre-worded postcards sent until March 1917. In later letters George included comments on the desecration of the countryside, the state of the war, the weather and thanked her for her letters and parcels, including lice treatment!
In a letter dated 21st May 1917, (written on “Mail” Tobacco Fun, Burton on Trent letterhead) George wrote that he was writing in a dugout and asked her to excuse the writing. He finished the letter,
“Well Dear I am getting along all right and keep hoping for the best and the end of the war. I will let you have a line or two when I get the chance, so now Dear One, I will close my note to you with all the love I have got to you and my Dear Children. I still remain your ever true and loving husband G Fearn. Good night and God bless and keep you.”
George was killed in action 3 days later – he never met Baby Dorothy and all he knew of her was from May’s letters.