Private, 270166, 10th Battalion, The Buffs (East Kent Yeomanry)
Killed In Action, 3rd Battle of Gaza, Palestine, 6 November 1917, aged 28
Buried in Beersheba Military Cemetery, Israel and Palestine, Plot 1, Grave 14

Beersheba War Cemetery, Israel and Palestine
(Click to enlarge)

Private George Baker was born in October 1889 at Mereworth in Kent. His parents, Frank Baker and Fanny (née Histed), were married in 1886 in East Grinstead but two years after George's birth, in 1891, his father died. In the 1891 census George was recorded as living in Butchers Lane, Mereworth, with his mother Fanny, a widow of 25, who was born in Forest Row and who was described as a butcher. Also resident was Louisa Young, a general domestic servant, who was born in Hartfield. George was to become an orphan at an early age, as his mother died in 1896.

George does not appear locally in the 1901 census returns but by 1911 he was living at Fernside, London Road, Forest Row, where he was described as a butcher's shop man. He was boarding at Fernside with Trevor Duncan in the household of William G. Witham (born in Arundel) and William's wife, Fanny, his wife of eight years. They lived next door to Harry Histed, his uncle, a retired butcher.

His attestation papers when he first enrolled at Broad Oak, Sturry, Kent on 5 September 1914 record that he was a meat salesman and was 5 feet 8 inches tall. George was initially posted to the Royal East and West Kent Yeomanry Regiment, number 1870, but was then transferred to the East Kent Yeomanry, number 270166. He first served in the Balkan theatre of war from 24 September 1915.

George died during the 3rd Battle of Gaza in the action leading to the capture of the Sheria position.

The first Battle of Gaza (26-27 March 1917) resulted in a Turkish/Ottoman victory. The following month, in the second Battle of Gaza (17-19 April) the Turkish 4th Army strengthened its defensive positions in and around Gaza to protect the area from an expected attack from the Allied Egypt Expeditionary Force. The third Battle of Gaza began with the expected attack on 27 October 1917. This resulted in a British victory, but George, acting as part of the E.E.F. 74th Division, was killed in action on Tuesday, 6 November 1917, the day before the battle ended with the capture of the ruined and deserted city.

Plan of Beersheba War Cemetery, Israel and Palestine
(Click to enlarge)

George Baker is buried in Beersheba Military Cemetery at Plot 1, Grave 14. The inscription on the grave reads "Till The Day Dawns". The cemetery at Beersheba lies on the edge of the Negev desert 75 km (47 miles) south-west of Jerusalem. It contains 1,241 Commonwealth casualties 67 of whom are unidentified. The cemetery opened immediately after General Allenby's successful attack in October 1917 on the Turkish stronghold of Beersheba. After the Armistice the cemetery was expanded by the bringing in of burials from associated scattered sites and small burial gardens.

George Baker's entry in the Forest Row Memorial Book was signed by his uncle, Harry Histed, whose address was given as Clifton Cottage, Forest Row.

Kevin Tillett