Dedicated to the memory of all the men and women of the Bridgnorth area who died during the two World Wars.
George Sydney Egan was born at Chelmarsh where he was baptised on 1st April, 1895. He was the son of John Egan, a collier, and his wife, Gertrude. In 1901 they lived at Tan House Cottages, Chelmarsh, but by 1911 they had moved to Hampton Loade.
George's younger brother Albert Leonard is also commemorated on the Chelmarsh War Memorial.
George worked as a horse driver at the colliery before joining the King's Shropshire Light Infantry. He was later transferred to the Machine Gun Corps with whom he went to Mesopotamia. He died in action in February, 1917. The records disagree about the date: the Commonwealth War Graves Commission says the 22nd but Soldiers Died says 24th. He is commemorated on the Basra Memorial.
The 24th February, 1917 saw the Battle of the Shumran Peninsula - a major step during the advance on Bagdad. The official despatch describes the day's events:
Early on February 24th our troops in the Shumran Bend resumed the advance, supported by machine guns and artillery from the right bank.
The enemy held on tenaciously at the northeast corner of the peninsula, where there is a series of nalas in which a number of machine guns were concealed, but after a strenuous fight, lasting for four or five hours, he was forced back, and two field and two machine guns and many prisoners fell into our possession.
Further west our troops were engaged with strong enemy forces in the intricate mass of ruins, mounds, and nalas which lie to the northwest of Shumran, and rapid progress was impossible, but toward evening the enemy had been pushed back to a depth of 1,000 yards, although he still resisted stubbornly.
While this fighting was in progress the cavalry, the artillery, and another division crossed the bridge. The cavalry attempted to break through at the northern end of the Shumran Bend to operate against the enemy's rear along the Baghdad road, by which airplanes reported hostile columns to be retreating, but strong Turkish rearguards entrenched in nalas prevented them from issuing from the peninsula.
During this day's fighting at Shumran heavy losses had been inflicted on the enemy, and our captures have been increased in all to four field guns, eight machine guns, some 1,650 prisoners, and a large quantity of rifles, ammunition, equipment and war stores. The gunboats were now ordered upstream from Falahiyeh, and reached Kut the same evening.
While these events were happening at Shumran, Lieut.-Gen. Cobbe cleared the enemy's sixth line at Sannaiyat, the Nakhailat, and Suwada positions, and the left bank as far as Kut without much opposition.
The capture of the Sannaiyat position, which the Turks believed to be impregnable, had only been accomplished after a fierce struggle, in which our infantry, closely supported by our artillery, displayed great gallantry and endurance against a brave and determined enemy. The latter had again suffered severely. Many trenches were choked with corpses, and the open ground where counter-attacks had taken place was strewn with them. [from Sir Frederick Maude's official despatch concerning Operations Leading to the Fall of Baghdad, December 1916-March 1917]
Private George Sydney Egan, 61012, Machine Gun Corps (formerly 2313, KSLI) was awarded the Victory and British War Medals.
This memorial has mostly been compiled from official sources. It would be good to be able to expand it with more personal material - memories, stories, photos, etc. If you have any suitable material or any corrections please contact Greg. For news of updates follow @BridgnorthHeros on Twitter.