Lieutenant George Garnham

 

George Garnham was born in Ipswich, England, in 1885, son of James Garnham.

When the war commenced he was working as a company secretary. He enlisted on 13 May 1915 in the 3/1 County of London Yeomanry (No.4126). By 23 November he had reached the rank of sergeant and on 26 February 1916 at Dublin he qualified as a 1st Class Instructor in Musketry and passed ‘Distinguished’. Later that year he applied for a commission in the cavalry and was sent to No.1 Cavalry Cadet Squadron at Netheravon.

Garnham was commissioned on 28 November 1916 and posted to the 2nd Reserve Regiment of Cavalry. He was attached to the 6th (Inniskilling) Dragoons Service Squadron, then part of the 2nd North Irish Horse Regiment, joining them at the front on 10 May 1917. In September 1917 the regiment was dismounted and absorbed into the 9th Battalion, Royal Irish Fusiliers. Garnham joined the battalion on 8 November but left eight days later, returning to England to join the 10th Battalion, Tank Corps.

He joined the battalion in France at the end of December and was promoted to the rank of lieutenant on 28 May 1918. Garnham saw action during the Kaiserschlact offensive in March 1918. During the Battle of Amiens he commanded tank J.35. On 8 August it broke down and whilst being repaired lost three crew gassed and one shocked. Two days later his tank, having moved forward 1000 yards, was hit and knocked out – three crew were killed, one wounded, one missing and two shocked. During the Battle of Albert on 21 August he was severely wounded whilst commanding tank J.47. The tank’s action that day was described thus:

Fired 50 six pdr and 400 SAA rounds. 2nd tank from right in right section. Attacked with “hoods”. Silenced MGs firing from left, reached objective and returned to rally. Whilst returning met infantry officer who requested help in dealing with MGs in huts between Achiet le Grand and Achiet le Petit. These posts were dealt with and the tank proceeded to the south of Achiet le Petit, subduing small pockets of the enemy, the tank was then hit and knocked out. 2 crew were killed, the OIC and 2 crewmen wounded, 2 crewmen were missing.

Garnham received nine wounds – shoulder, right arm, hand (two), leg, neck, and both feet – from shell fragments and bullets. He was evacuated to England after a week and sent to The Countess of Pembroke’s Hospital at Wilton House, Salisbury.

Demobilised on 14 March 1919, he relinquished his commission on account of ill-health on 1 August 1919. 

On 3 April 1919 he wrote to the authorities seeking a pension:

Have lost the use of front part [of left foot] & can only use heel as regards walking. Can only walk slowly & when outside have to use a stick. Stairs are a great inconvenience. Neck ... wound has healed but the feeling of part of the face has gone. It has also left me partially deaf & the right eye is affected in strong light so that I have to wear glasses. ...  My nerves also are shaken, insomuch that if unexpectedly addressed or disturbed it takes me a minute or so to get over the surprise.

It is not known whether the request was approved.

 

Information on actions of the 10th Battalion Tank Corps sourced from Landships site https://sites.google.com/site/landships/