Private George Edward Waller

Regiment: 11th Battalion, The Hampshire Regiment
Service No.: 21516
Date and place of birth: 1896 in Buriton, Hampshire
Date and place of death: 1 August 1917 (aged 21) at Lijssenthoek, Belgium

George Edward Waller was born just across the county boundary in Buriton and appears never to have lived in Elsted or Treyford for any considerable time. His connection to the parish comes through his paternal grandparents. He enlisted in the Hampshire Regiment and died of wounds in Belgium.

Family background

George Edward Waller was the second of six children of Richard Waller (1860 – 1919) and his wife Ellen née Ayling (1871 – 1942). We have been unable to trace the registration of George’s birth; in the 1901 census, he is listed as aged 5, born in Buriton.

Richard Waller was born in Trotton in 1860, where he was baptised on 18 March 1860. His parents were William Waller and his wife Elizabeth née Caplin, whose wedding was at the newly built St Peter’s Church in Treyford on 5 November 1851. William and Elizabeth lived at Ingrams Green for many years.

Richard married Ellen Ayling (probably at Rogate) in the summer of 1891; at the time of the 1891 census, his address was The Old Workhouse, Rogate. Ellen’s parents were John Ayling and his wife Emily née Boniface, who lived at Durleigh Cottage, Rogate.

The couple seem to have moved home regularly. Their first child, Ellen, was born at Rake in 1893 followed by a second daughter Jessie born at Harting in 1894. George and his brother Albert (born 1897) were both born at Buriton; a third daughter, Lizzie, was born at Steep in 1898, with the sixth and last child, William John, being born at Bedhampton in early 1901.

At the 1901 census, the family were all living in the Belmont area of Bedhampton, where Richard was employed as a carter on a farm. Ten years later, the family were living at Deanlane End, near Rowlands Castle; by this time, the two elder daughters had left home and were both in service: Ellen in Westbourne and Jessie at Havant. George is shown on the 1911 census as a “wood sawyer” aged 15, while his younger brother Albert was shown as a “telegraph messenger”.

Military service

George Waller enlisted at Winchester, probably in early 1916, joining the 11th (Service) Battalion (Pioneers) of the Hampshire Regiment.

In September 1916, the battalion were in action on the Somme during the Battle of Guillemont, in which the Division captured the village, and the Battle of Ginchy.

By June 1917, the battalion had moved north to Belgium, where they took part in the Battle of Messines.

Death and commemoration

During the Battle of Messines, George Waller was injured. He was taken to the casualty clearing station at Lijssenthoek, behind the front lines, about ten miles west of Ypres, close to the French border.

The grave of private George Edward Waller at  Lijssenthoek Military Cemetery
The grave of Private George Edward Waller at Lijssenthoek Military Cemetery

He died of his wounds on 1 August 1917 and was buried in Lijssenthoek Military Cemetery, which now occupies the site of the former clearing station.

He was awarded the British War Medal and the Victory Medal and is commemorated on the War Memorial plaque, originally situated in St Peter’s Church, where his grandparents had been married nearly 70 years earlier.

Subsequent family history

George’s father, Richard, died in mid-1919; his death was registered at Westhampnett, Chichester. Ellen is believed to have died at Droxford, Hampshire in 1942.

Midhurst U3A WW1 War Memorial Project