Northamptonshire mother died of broken heart after only son died weeks after signing up for First World War

Private George Maurice Dawkes lost his life within a month of enrolling in the Army.

Friday, 2nd November 2018, 3:23 pm
Updated Friday, 2nd November 2018, 4:26 pm
George Maurice Dawkes (centre) with his father Frederick and Matilda

His mother, Matilda, died of a broken heart after waiting months to hear the official confirmation of the worst news a parent can receive.

More than a century after he fell fighting in the battle of Aubers Ridge, Private Dawkes' death still resonates with his surviving family.

"I can still feel the sorrow of the family, the war only ended 29 years before I was born," said George's first cousin twice removed, Gill Parris.

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"My grandmother was brought up by Frederick and Matilda with George and I still have his walking stick, some books and his medals."

Private Dawkes was born on October 22, 1880, in Denton, the only child of Frederick and Matilda (nee Knight) Dawkes.

He enrolled in the 1st Battalion Northamptonshire regiment in Norwich on April 15, 1915, and was sent to France.

Within a month he was killed in the battle of Aubers Ridge on May 9, 1915, but at first, he was only presumed dead.

Relatives had to wait months before they were told that there was no hope of survival and George’s mother Matilda died in January 1916, her heart broken by the loss of her only son.

George was awarded the Victoria Cross, The British War medal and the Star. His name is written on the war memorial at Ploegsteert in Belgium.

His father, Frederick, received his effects of £5.10.9 that included £3 war gratuity.

Members of George's family still live in Denton today.