George William Baker
1898 - 7th January 1916
George was born in High Halstow, Rochester, Kent and enlisted whist in Canterbury, Kent. He and his family resided at Broad Oak, Sturry, Canterbury, Kent.
At the time of the 1901 census, the Baker family resided at Reed Street, Cliffe-at-Hoo, Rochester, Kent. Head of the house was 31 year old of Deeping, Lincolnshire.
George’s father was William Baker was born in 1869 and died in 1951 and was employed as a Farm Waggoner. His mother, Lydia Caroline Baker (née Gransden), was born at High Halstow, Rochester, Kent in 1872 and died in 1942.
Probably the family member who is best still remembered in the village of Sturry is George’s niece, the late Mrs. Beryl Eileen Frances Foster (née Baker) who was a veteran of the Women's Royal Naval Service. Born in Sturry on Thursday 11 October 1928, Mrs. Foster died on Sunday 18 February 2007 in Canterbury, Kent, of course she never knew her late uncle George who was killed in action in Mesopotamia (now Iraq) during the ‘Battle of Sheikh Sa'ad.’ At the commencement of the Great War the 1/5th (Territorial Force) Battalion, The Buffs (East Kent Regiment) had its headquarters at the Drill Hall, Newtown Road, Ashford, Kent, and was in the Kent Brigade, Home Counties Division.
At the time of George’s death, the 1/5th (Territorial Force) Battalion, The Buffs (East Kent Regiment) was commanded by Lieutenant-Colonel Joseph Munn-Mace, T.D. from Tenterden, Kent, who was a pre Great War Territorial Force officer and had originally served with the 2nd (Kent & Cinque Ports) Volunteer Battalion, The Buffs (East Kent Regiment) at Cranbrook, Kent. Promoted to Lieutenant-Colonel on Tuesday 1 June 1909, Joseph had been in command of the 1/5th (Territorial Force) Battalion, The Buffs (East Kent Regiment) when it sailed from Southampton for India on 30 October 1914.
Lieutenant-Colonel Munn-Mace had remained in command when the battalion was ordered to Mesopotamia, arriving at Basra on Monday 6 December 1915 in the 35th Indian Division. On Tuesday 4 January 1916, George’s battalion was at Ali-el-Gharbi, Mesopotamia, from where it moved up the river Tigris towards Sheikh Sa'ad, which is about 20 miles downstream of Kut, with all surplus stores being carried by river barges. The battalion only marched about eight miles due to the prevailing inclement weather conditions, combined with the terrain which was encountered by the battalion. During the day it was extremely hot, but at nigh time the temperature dropped to below freezing, and rations at the time consisted mainly of bully beef and hard tack biscuits. On Thursday 6 January the march was resumed and enemy outposts were reached, and engagements with the enemy commenced shortly after midday, fortunately however casualties to the battalion were surprisingly light. On Friday 7 January heavier engagements with the enemy pursued and William was killed in action.