Was George last Luton soldier killed in World War One? An exhibition is hoping to find his family

Organisers of a summer exhibition on the Yorkshire Regiment are hoping to trace information about a Luton man.

Thursday, 28th March 2019, 9:45 am
Updated Thursday, 28th March 2019, 9:46 am

Private George Fensome survived the horrors of the First World War, only to tragically be killed as he prepared to come home.

Pt Fensome, 65103, 6th Battalion Yorkshire Regiment was born in 1897 to father George and mother Maria. The 1901 census shows George as the only child but with an adopted sister, Sarah Francis Hamson, aged 5. By the time of the 1911 census the family had grown to include five more girls, Queenie 9, Annie Maria 6, Lilly May 5, and 8 month old twins Georgina and Doris. George was then a 13-year-old schoolboy. They lived at 14 Brache Street, Luton.

George was employed as fitter’s assistant at the Luton Gas Company before joining the 1/9th Hampshire (cyclists) Battalion. The battalion was formed as a new Territorial unit in 1911. George would eventually transfer to the 6th Battalion Yorkshire Regiment.

When this happened is unclear but may well have been at the end of the war when soldiers were being drafted for service from various units for service in North Russia. The 6th Battalion sailed for Murmansk in November 1918 and would be in North Russia until their eventual evacuation on 1 September 1919. They had suffered the appalling conditions of the campaign and seen action in the major Battle of Bolshoi Ozerki, March/April 1919.

The 6th Battalion war diaries tell us that they were on the move by train to HQ at Bakaritza for their evacuation. On arrival at the station it would appear that the 21-year-old started to alight the train while it was still moving, fell, and was killed. It was August 31, 1919, the day before embarking for home. The letter the War Office sent to his parents only made mention of it being ‘accidental’ and gave no other information.

His last letter home was to inform his parents he would soon be with them. He is thought to be the last Yorkshire Regiment soldier to die on active service in the First World War and is commemorated on the Archangel Memorial.