George Frederick Call, Private 41474, 2nd Leeds Pals
George Frederick Call was born in Armley on 13th February 1887, the tenth and apparently last child of James Call, who had married Jane Fielding in 1868. His older siblings were Emily, Mary, William, Benjamin, Frances (or Fanny) and Alice. According to the 1911 Census three other children had died, but they do not appear on any of the earlier censuses.
James Call was a forgeman when he married, and living in Bradford. But this seems to have been a precarious trade and by 1881 he was unemployed, having not given a trade in 1871. By 1891 he was back as a hammerman, but in 1901 he gave his trade as rug maker. He and his family also moved round quite a lot. In 1871 they were in Halifax, but by 1881 back in Bradford. Between then and 1887 they moved to Armley, where George was born.
In 1901 they were still in Armley, and George was listed as a commercial clerk, but this does not seem to have suited, as by 1911 he was a costume presser, and they were living in Wortley. In December of the following year he married Gertrude Wilkinson in Bramley.
In 1914, when the war began, George was 27, but from his army number he does not appear to have enlisted straight away. Married men were not required at first, and perhaps there was a young child, or one on the way. Unfortunately his service records are missing, so we cannot know. But when he did join it was the Leeds Bantams, suggesting he was not very tall.
On 31st August 1917 George was captured, unwounded, at Guillemont, and taken initially to Le Quesnoy. By November he was in the camp at Dülmen, and in March 1918 he was at Münster. At some point he was photographed, by the Germans, probably in order to show outsiders that their prisoners were properly looked after, although by this stage Germany was suffering severe food shortages.
The photo is interesting for a number of reasons. Firstly it is labelled ‘Fred Call’, suggesting, as does the inscription, that he had adopted his second name in preference. Secondly he appears to be wearing a clerical collar, and his jacket could well be something other than POW issue.
Thirdly the inscription under it appears to read ‘Yours sincerely G Fredk. Call, British missioner PoW, (F?)elsenkirchen-i-W’.
If the ‘F’ is correct then it could be the Felsenkirche, a famous attraction, a church built into the side of a rocky outcrop near Idar-Oberstein in south-eastern Germany, not too far from either camp.
But this is just speculation. After his release and return to England I have found no further record either of Fred or of Gertrude, beyond the fact that he was placed on the reserve list on 18th October 1919.
Researchers: Jane Luxton and Peter Taylor
- All opinions and inferences are the researcher’s own.
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