3 June 2009

Sub Conductor George A J Welch, Indian Army Ordnance Corps, formerly Yorkshire Regiment

Medals held:
Queen's South Africa Medal and three clasps (Cape Colony, Orange Free State, Transvaal), King's South Africa Medal and two clasps (1901, 1902), 1914-15 Star, British War Medal, Victory Medal, Delhi Durbar Medal 1911, Military Long Service and Good Conduct Medal.

George A J Welch was born in Allahabad, India around 1880 or 1881. He appears on the 1891 census as a ten year old scholar; the eldest child of James and Lily Welch. James Welch, born at Shepton Mallet in Somerset, is recorded as a 39 year old quartermaster sergeant serving with the Yorkshire Regiment. His wife Lily is recorded as 31 years old; a British subject born in Burma. Apart from George, the other children are noted as John L Welch, a seven year old scholar born at Netley, Hampshire; Frederick H D Welch, a four year old scholar born at Richmond, Yorkshire; Thomas R Welch aged two, also born at Richmond; and Louisa M L Welch aged one month, born at Richmond. At the time the census was taken, the family was living at Allen Place, Richmond.

Neither George nor John appear on the 1901 census (both were away fighting the Boers in South Africa). The rest of the family though - including two additions - had moved to Potternewton in Leeds and was living at 18 Leopold Square. The household comprised James (head, aged 49, recorded as an army storekeeper and noted by the census takers as an army pensioner), his wife Lily (aged 41, this time recorded as having been born in India), and the couple's five children. They were: Frederick Welch aged 14, Thomas Welch aged 12, Louisa Welch aged 10, Isabelle Welch aged seven, and Herbert Welch aged five. Both Isabelle and Herbert had also been born in Richmond, suggesting that the family moved to Leeds some time after July 1895 (Herbert's birth was registered at Richmond in the September quarter of that year).

George's army service record does not appear to have survived, although his brother John's has. Like his elder brother, John Leeson Welch joined the Yorkshire Regiment, initially serving with the 3rd (Militia) Battalion during the Boer War and then joining the regular Yorkshire Regiment on 15th June 1903. Enlisting for a period of 3 years with the colours and nine on the reserve his approving officer wrote, "Smart lad. Served two and a half years in S Africa with 3rd Yorkshire Regt. Has father and brother in Corps. Has been employed in an office and will prob[ably] soon develop. Is a drummer and bugler. Character exemplary. Corps [unclear but possibly "advised"] to obtain him." John would extend his service with the Yorkshire Regiment, serve overseas in India and again in South Africa, transfer to the Reserve in 1911 and then be recalled to the colours on 5th August 1914. Exactly two months later he would land in France, remaining there until wounded in 1917. He would return there in May 1918, this time with the Coldstream Guards, finally earning his discharge in 1919. John's medal group would have been almost identical to George's, the absence of the Transvaal clasp on his QSA and no Delhi Durbar medal being the only difference.

So George was certainly still with the Yorkshire Regiment in 1903 but by 1911 he'd transferred to the Ordnance Department. His Delhi Durbar medal is inscribed to O Sub Condr G.A.J. Welch, Ordnance Dept.

George's First World War medal card (below) makes no reference to an award of a 1914-15 Star so I am currently puzzled how this forms part of his group. Like the British War and Victory medals it is inscribed to Sub Condr G A J Welch, I.O.D. Finally, George's QSA is inscribed to 4596 Cpl G Welch, Yorkshire Regt, whilst the KSA is inscribed to 4596 Serjt G Welch, York Regt. His Military Long Service and Good Conduct medal is inscribed to Staff Serjt G.A.J Welch.

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