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George John Collins 

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Somerset Light Infantry
6th Battalion
Sergeant 10192
Killed 27th August 1916

George Collins' Parents

George Collins was born to parents George (sen) and Mary Ann (nee Ware), who were both from Devon.

George (senior) was from Sampford Peverell (near Tiverton), the son of a well-to-do master baker (also called George) and in 1871 living in a household with his parents, two sisters and three servants. Ten years later, the 1881 census shows that George (senior)’s father had died and his mother remarried to another baker (Richard Luxton), with a young half-brother having been added to the family.

Mary Ann Ware was born in Tedburn St. Mary, near Crediton in Devon. Her home in her early years was a cottage in a row called ‘Salmon Hutch’ in the hamlet of Uton with her father Robert, an agricultural labourer, and her mother Ellen. In 1881, Mary (aged 12) had also lost a parent, namely her mother Ellen, and was living with her father Robert, in Crediton.

Newspaper announcement of parents' wedding

Announcement in the Exeter newspaper of George Collins' parents' marriage. 

George (sen) and Mary Ann married in October 1890 in Exeter, their paths having crossed at some point in the intervening nine years.

The Collins Family

Collins family tree

The first family home, as per the 1891 census, appears to have been at 59 Victoria Street in the parish of St Sidwell in Exeter, with George (senior) listed as an insurance agent. The census entry shows that George (sen) and Mary Ann were sharing this terraced house with a separate family of seven. The eldest of the Collins children, Amy, was born in Exeter in 1891. George was born in Chippenham in 1893 and Sidney in Bristol in 1896.

3 Claude Ave

3 Claude Avenue: the Collins’ first family home in Bath, from 1898-1903, from where George walked to school for several years.

The Bath Directories show the family living at 3 Claude Avenue from 1899, with George senior listed as a baker & confectioner, but they probably arrived in 1898, as Reginald’s birth is registered in Twerton in this year. The next child (Albert) was born in 1903, still in Claude Avenue, and in 1904 the family is shown living at 52 High Street, Twerton.

Leonard’s birth was registered in Walcot in 1905 (although it is not clear why it was not registered in Twerton). In 1906, the family address was 14 Sladebrook Avenue (at the top of Coronation Avenue).

Old postcard of Sladebrook Av

An old view of Sladebrook Avenue where the Collins had their home at number 14 in 1906

In 1907 the Collins family lived briefly at 35 The Triangle (now Triangle West), near Oldfield Park Baptist Church, which had opened in 1902, and then at 67 Coronation Avenue from 1908 (when the youngest child, Cecil, was born).

67 Coronation Av

67 Coronation Avenue: home to the Collins family circa 1908-1912

Old postcard view of Coronation Av

Coronation Avenue as it would have appeared around the turn of the twentieth century, complete with horse-drawn cart roughly outside the Collins home.

By 1911, George (senior) was working as a pastry chef in a restaurant and George (junior, age 18) was a ‘moulder’ in an iron foundry with a crane manufacturer, from which we can surmise that he worked at Stothert & Pitt, probably at the Victoria Works, near Victoria Bridge. 

Elder sister Amy (20) was a corset trimmer, perhaps at the Beyer factory on the Lower Bristol Road. Younger brother Sidney (15) was a ‘die stamper’ with a stationer (a die-stamper would be engaged putting logos or monograms etc. on stationery) and the younger siblings were all at school, presumably at South Twerton.

The family home moved to number 1 Monksdale Road (on the corner with Beckhampton Road) in 1913, where the parents then remained for many years.

1 Monksdale Road
1 Monksdale Road

George Collins in WW1

Somerset Light Infantry

George joined the Somerset Light Infantry at – or soon after – the outbreak of war. A piece in the newspaper from the beginning of October 1914 lists George Collins as being with the SLI 1st Battalion. He later served with the SLI 6th Battalion (in 14th (Light) Division) and rose to the rank of Sergeant. We do not know the circumstances of either his transfer or his promotion. 

George Collins' Death

Sergeant George Collins was killed in action on 27th July 1916.

On the date of his death, the 6th Battalion, as part of the 14th (Light) Division, was engaged in the Battle of Delville Wood (part of the Battle of the Somme), which took place from mid July 1916:


It hasn’t been possible (yet) to find a specific reference to the SLI 6th’s movements on that day, but 27th was a key day in the battle for Delville Wood:

From http://www.snowdenhouse.co.uk/longueval.php:

On the 12th August the 17th Division was relieved, during its ten days in the line it again received over 5000 casualties. The 43rd Division took responsibility for Delville Wood and 14th Division took over Longueval and during the next days the fighting switched to the west and south of the area.

On the 18th August the assault continued once more within the close confines of Delville Wood, the fierce fighting continuing all day at times hand to hand, the line changing hands by only yards throughout the day. To the left the 14th Division attacked Orchard Trench with the same results.

On 17th August GHQ informed Gen Rawlinson that the ‘Tank’ would be available for a new offensive in mid-September, therefore some three weeks remained to get to a proposed start line. Amongst other requirements XV Corps would be required to clear the northern edge of Delville Wood. On the 21st August an attempt by 8th KRRC to occupy posts in the German front line in the wood was foiled at the cost of 200 men and no gain. A more considerable effort was made on the 24th August. Again 8th KRRC, 41st Bde, on the right of the Divisional attack, had difficulty making progress and were stopped before Ale Alley trench. It fell to 10th DLI to launch a surprise attack on the afternoon of the 27th August which finally removed the Germans from Delville Wood for the first time, their tenuous grip in posts in Edge Trench was finally broken.


The South Twerton School memorial plaque lists Sergeant George Collins followed by the letters “MM”, signifying that he was at some point awarded the Military Medal, which was awarded for specific acts of bravery. As such, he is the only one of the 33 men commemorated on the plaque to have been thus decorated. Sadly, we do not know when or why the MM was awarded to George Collins. It may have been awarded during his lifetime or posthumously in relation to the events surrounding his death.

Military Medal
The Military Medal

Neither do we know for certain when George Collins first saw active service in a theatre of war, hence it is not known whether he received either the 1914 Star (if active in a theatre of war before 23rd Nov 1914) or - more likely - the 1914-15 Star (before 31 Dec 1915). But he would have received the British War Medal 1914-18 and the Allied Victory Medal posthumously.

1914-15 Star
British War Medal 1914-18Allied Victory Medal
1914-15 StarBritish War Medal 1914-18Allied Victory Medal


Collins on S Twerton memorial

In addition to his commemoration on the South Twerton School memorial, Sergeant George Collins is commemorated as follows:


The Thiepval Memorial commemorates those who died with no known grave in the battles of the Somme. It is the largest British battle memorial in the world. A large inscription on an internal surface of the memorial reads:

“Here are recorded names of officers and men of the British Armies who fell on the Somme battlefields between July 1915 and March 1918 but to whom the fortune of war denied the known and honoured burial given to their comrades in death.”
Thiepval Memorial

The Thiepval Memorial, where George Collins is commemorated, along with Percy Whiting, Harold Carless and Percy Ware.

In July 2016, the Thiepval Memorial was visited by Mike & Kathy Sumsion of Bath and they were kind enough to find George Collins' inscription among the many thousands of names. They also supplied the photographs below. It is a wonderful thing to know that George Collins is still actively remembered by Bathonians one hundred years after his death.

Collins on Thiepval
Collins on Thiepval

Bath War Memorial

See separate page for details of the Bath War Memorial. George Collins' inscription:

Collins on Bath War Memorial

Moravian Church Memorial

George Collins' name is inscribed on the Moravian Church tablet, now in the Ascension Church (see separate page for details of the Moravian Church Memorial):

Moravian Church Memorial

Further Information

Living relatives

It would be great to hear from any living relatives of George Collins. We know of descendants of George Collins' siblings as follows:

  • Amy Collins (later Hingston) and subsequent generations including the names Herman, Hayward, Manley.
  • Sidney Collins (married Dorothy Eacot, but no further info)
  • Reginald Collins (married Alice Chivers) and subsequent generations including the names Collins, L'Esteve, May, McCann, Sellick, Pike, Woolley, McLeod, Wilton
  • Albert Collins (married Gladys Clark or Agnes Moore, but no further info)
  • Leonard Collins (married Olive Francis) and subsequent generations including the names Mottram and Toghill
  • Cecil Collins (married Dorothy Raynor, but no further info)

Please get in touch!

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