George Bray (1881-1919)

An ongoing project to commemorate and research the lives of those who appear on war memorials and rolls of honour in the local area, who served in the military, or whose deaths were linked to conflict.


Born 1881 in Holmfirth.

Married Gertrude Downes on 9 July 1904.

Served as a driver in the Royal Field Artillery but was invalided home after being gassed.

He died on 14 February 1919.

Lives of the First World War

The following section is reproduced from the Imperial War Musuems' Lives of the First World War site under the terms of the IWM Non-Commercial Licence.

George Bray was born in about 1882 in Holmfirth, the son of millhand Joe Bray and his wife Sarah. Little is known of his early life but he was married at Holy Trinity Church, Holmfirth, West Yorkshire on 9 July 1904 to Gertrude Downes of Goose Green, Holmfirth, his address shown as Thongsbridge and his occupation as dyer. In the 1911 census, his wife and three of their four sons, the youngest just a baby, are living at 31 Miry Lane, Thongsbridge, their eldest son staying nearby with George’s parents, also on Miry Lane.

George Bray enlisted in the army on 2 January 1915 and his service records can be found at Ancestry UK. These show that he embarked for France on 20 July 1915 and served there until July 1917 when he fell ill with Valvular Disease of the Heart (Mitral Stenosis), attributed to his having been gassed together with suffering from exposure. He returned to England on a hospital ship on 2 August 1917 and spent two months in hospital in Southend-on-Sea before being transferred to Ripon where he remained until February 1918.

On 13 March 1918, George was discharged as “no longer physically fit for war service” with Silver Badge number 350476, the reasons given as “uncompensated mitral stenosis, arrhythmia, tachycardia, hypertrophy; permanent, will get worse, 100% disablement; date of original disability 31/7/17 France.” His character was given as “steady, honest and sober.”

George returned home to his family, now comprising five children: Albert Edward born 14 December 1904, Arnold born 15 April 1906, Irving born 9 July 1908, Reginald born 24 July 1910 and twins Amy and Edith born on 12 December 1912. His condition continued to worsen and he died at home on 14 February 1915 aged 36 years, as published in the deaths column of the Holmfirth Express the following day.