George East was born at Aldenham in the autumn of 1897, the eldest son of William and Priscilla East. William East was a Bricklayer by trade and the family had moved to 76 Marlin Square, Abbots Langley by the time of the 1911 Census, and had three sons and two daughters.
George enlisted at Watford, and is first listed in the Abbots Langley Parish Magazine Roll of Honour in February 1917 as serving with the 3rd Battalion of the Norfolk Regiment. At some point in 1917 he was transferred to the 8th Norfolk’s (as recorded in the Soldiers Died in the Great War records), and it is also not known when he moved to the 11th Battalion of the Suffolk Regiment, but he was “Killed in Action” with this unit on 26th August 1917.
On 26th August, the 11th Suffolk’s were in action at Hargicourt (just north of St Quentin), taking part in an attack on Cologne Farm Ridge. They succeeded in pushing the enemy back over half a mile, and taking Malakoff Farm. During this action 26 year old Corporal Sidney Day was awarded the Victoria Cross for commanding a section of Bombers detailed to clear a maze of trenches. The Suffolk’s consolidated their position and subsequently drove off the first counter-attack that they faced, and then came under intense fire. It is likely that George East was either “Killed in Action” in the attack or in the subsequent defence of the position.
The Abbots Langley Parish Magazine reported George’s death in October 1917
“George David East, of the Suffolk Regiment, was killed in action on August 27th (sic). He was only nineteen years of age and had only been at the Front a short time. Both he, and Arthur Botwright, were closely connected to Bedmond, which has suffered so many losses. Arthur Botwright had lived there all his life, and George East belonged there by birth and his early life”.
The Parish Record indicates that George died on 27th August, however the official Commonwealth War Graves Commission record, and his entry in the UK Army Register of Soldiers’ Effects both record his death as taking place on 26th August 1917. Census records confirm that George was born in Aldenham, so it is not known how he was connected to Bedmond, but as so little has been discovered about this man, an association with that village could be possible.
George’s brother, William, served with the Tank Corps, but he survived the Great War. George East is commemorated on the Thiepval Memorial to the Missing on the Somme, in France, and also on the Abbots Langley War Memorial.