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Gravestone of Pte George HONEY 1891-1916
Photo courtesy of Ann Watson

George HONEY

Regimental Number
1291
Rank
Private
War Service
Egypt and Western Front
Prior Military Service
Nil
Enlistment
19 Jul 1915 at West Guildford, WA
Embarkation
18 Nov 1915 from Adelaide, SA, on the HMAT A2 Geelong
Next of Kin
Wife – Mrs Anne Brown HONEY, West Guildford, Western Australia
Date & Place of Birth
07 May 1886, Port Isaac, Cornwall
Parents
Thirza nee TABB and William J HONEY (deceased)
Marital Status
Married, Ann B. Honey nee Bradshaw, One son
Siblings
3 sisters, 7 brothers
Occupation
Labourer
Physical Description
5 feet 8 inches, 151 pounds (172.7cm, 68.5kg)
Eyes grey, Hair light, Complexion dark
Distinguishing Features
3 tattoos on forearms mermaid coat of arms and clasped hands
Religion
Church of England
Fate
Killed in Action, 19 Jul 1916, Fromelles, France. On German Death List - aged 30
Place of Burial
Pheasant Wood Military Cemetery, Fromelles, France. Plot III, Row D, Grave 1
Positively Identified
Yes, 2019

George died at Fromelles



Private George Honey was one of the 718 casualties suffered by the 32nd Battalion in its first major battle on the Western Front – effectively losing almost 90 percent of the battalion’s actual fighting strength just three days after first entering the front-line trenches. As part of that disastrous introduction to battle, George was killed by a German bayonet in their unit’s first encounter of the battle and his comrades were unable to recover his body when they retired.

His name was included on the German death list dated 2 August 1916 which meant that he had been buried by the Germans. The Germans kept good records of these burials including collecting the identification discs of those buried.

Fortunately for his family, his death was reported very quickly with his wife notified on 11 August 1916. This was most unusual during this period as most families were advised only that their loved one was missing and had to wait until investigations were conducted in the tumult of the ongoing war, a process that often took many months and, for some, well over a year. Sadly, for most families, the outcome was often still the same – killed in action – but they had the additional torture of waiting with hope and uncertainty.

So, who was Private George Honey?

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George Honey 1886-1916
source Museum of the Battle of Fromelles

George Honey was born on 7 May 1886 in Port Isaac, Cornwall, the eighth child of eleven born to Thirza (nee Tabb) and John William Honey. Living on the coast of Cornwall, it is no surprise that the men of the family generally made their living from the sea as fishermen and mariners.

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A view of modern-day Port Isaac – known to many from movies and TV series like Saving Grace, Poldark, and Doc Martin and as the home of the Fisherman’s Friends sea shanty singing group (and film of the same name).
source Portisaac-online website



At 26 years of age, George emigrated to Australia on board the SS Gothic This was in December 1912, just two months after he had married Ann Brown Bradshaw in St Endellion’s parish church in their hometown of Port Isaac. On shipping records, George stated his occupation as farm labourer despite having worked as a fisherman and mariner since the age of 14. Perhaps this was to meet immigration criteria of the time.

George and Ann arrived in Fremantle in January 1913 and settled in Beechboro, West Guildford, now a suburb of Perth. It seems that George undertook labouring work until he enlisted in July 1915. George and Annie also welcomed the arrival of a son, James William Honey on 2 May 1914 – a son who had not long had his first birthday when George went off to war.

The Bradshaw connections in Australia

And what had drawn the young couple to the other side of the world? More than likely it was to join members of Ann’s family, the Bradshaws.
Two of her brothers, John (with his wife and two children) and Richard had emigrated and settled in Beechboro about twelve months prior to George and Ann’s arrival. John established a market garden while Richard was a deckhand before he enlisted in the AIF – like his brother-in-law George Honey - to serve his adopted country. He served more than two years in France and died aged 26 on 11 August 1918. Private Richard Mitchell Bradshaw, 2883, 30th Battalion, is buried in the Vignacourt British Cemetery in France.
John’s son, William John Bradshaw, 2441, 16th Battalion, also enlisted in the AIF aged just 18 in June 1915. He was promoted to corporal and after being wounded in action twice returned to Australia in December 1918. Accordingly, Annie had her husband, youngest brother and a nephew serving with the Australian forces. Only her nephew returned home.
Another of Ann’s siblings, her oldest sister, Mary Jane Faulkner (nee Bradshaw) also emigrated to Australia later in 1913 and settled in Sydney with her husband and three children. And finally, Ruth Bradshaw emigrated to join Mary. Ruth did not marry and remained living with the Faulkner family until her death in 1965.
Four other Bradshaw siblings – Thomas, William, Ellen and James – remained in England.

George’s War

Enlisting in Perth in July 1915 aged 29, George began his training at Blackboy Hill and was assigned to the 32nd Battalion, D Company. The battalion left Australia from Adelaide on the final voyage of the troopship A2 Geelong on 18 November 1915. They disembarked at Port Suez on 18 December 1915.

George would have trained and served with his unit in Egypt and then embarked with them for France in June. We have little details of his service other than what can be gleaned from enquiries made by the Red Cross. In one statement dated 19 November 1916, 3116 Private Herbert C. Grieves gave evidence that:

“I knew Honey personally. He came from Western Australia. He was killed at Fromelles, being bayoneted in the head in the German first line. His body was not recovered. Lieut. Ward of the 32nd battalion (sic), saw this and told me later.”

AWM: Australian Red Cross Wounded and Missing Files – George HONEY, page 4

Further evidence was provided by 1379 Private Frederick Thew of D Company, 32nd Battalion who advised:

“I regret to inform you that there is absolutely no doubt as to his death. On enquiries from some of the other men who saw him at the time, I find that unfortunately he was bayonetted by the enemy in the first encounter (19-7-16)

With regards to his description – as far as I can remember he was of medium height, farily (sic) solidly built, with heavy moustache, age about 35 to 37, and I believe resided in Maylands, W.A.

I may add also that he had been a Company cook until 3 days before.”

AWM: Australian Red Cross Wounded and Missing Files – George HONEY, page 3
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These soldiers have not been identified but it shows an operational cookhouse at Blackboy Hill Camp around the time George was in camp. While one is named as “Bob”, the four men are only identified as being from the 32nd Battalion, D Company, the unit to which George belonged. Written on the back: Bob in the cookhouse Blackboy Hill Camp 1915. Dixies of stew on boiling. Tea is boiled in the copper. Photo by Tesla Studio, 1915.
source State Library Western Australia, photo 4547B/1

Annie and Jim, the young widow and son left behind

Left to grieve the loss of her husband, Ann Brown Honey then aged 29, was left to raise their son Jim alone. She received a pension from the army and also had the support of her brother John with whom they lived for a time. As next of kin, Ann also received George’s identification disc that was returned by the Germans and, after the war, she received her husband’s memorial plaque and war service medals.

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The receipt signed by Ann for the identification disc she received in November 1917
source NAA: B2455, HONEY George – First AIF Personnel Dossier 1914-1920, page 20
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Ann Brown Honey, nee Bradshaw, circa 1935. Her second name was in honour of her paternal grandmother, Mary Brown.
source PISCES Port Isaac Heritage website, George Honey

Ann never remarried and she eventually settled – with young James - in Maylands, a suburb of Perth. When World War II commenced, James was 25 and enlisted as a gunner with the Garrison Artillery. He returned to Australia and worked with the Government Printing Office but sadly died aged 36 in 1951.

Ann survived James by 14 years dying in 1965 aged 78. James and Ann were both cremated and are memorialised in the Crematorium Rose Gardens, Karrakatta Cemetery in Perth.

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Gunner James William Honey W22607. 1914-1951

2019 – a dignified grave at last

The Port Isaac Heritage website describes the 2010 reburial ceremony as follows:

The inaugural reburial and ceremony took place at 11am on 30th January 2010, attended by representatives from Australia, France, the UK and the Commonwealth War Graves Commission. The former Chief of Defence of the French Army, General Bruno Cuche, paid tribute to the sacrifice made by the young soldiers, concluding with these fine words –

When we give these soldiers a dignified grave, we accomplish here one of the oldest gestures of mankind. It is a gesture of devotion. It is the gesture accomplished by every son for his father and by every nation for their heroes. Let them rest in peace in this land for which they shed their blood, and which owes them everything, including freedom!

PISCES Port Isaac Heritage website, George Honey
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The gravestone for George Honey at Fromelles dedicated in 2019.
source Virtual War Memorial Australia, 353570 George Honey
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West Guildford’s war memorial records the name of George Honey.
source PISCES Port Isaac Heritage website, George Honey

In 2019, Private George Honey was one of seven soldiers identified in that year and given his dignified grave at last. At Pheasant Wood cemetery, he now ‘sleeps beside his comrades’ with a gravestone honouring his life and sacrifice. The inscription reads: 1291 Private G. Honey. 32nd Bn Australian Inf. 19th July 1916 Age 30. He sleeps beside his comrades.

With thanks
Thanks are owed to many for George’s identification.
Firstly, to the Fromelles Association for tracking down his Cornish cousins.
Secondly, to numerous Cornish enthusiasts – some Honey-related and some not - who threw themselves into the task of identifying likely donors. This included personal visits to family members, including to the oldest living Honey in the area, Joan Murray (nee Honey), who so generously shared her documents and pictures.
We thank each and every one of them.

The Fromelles Association would love to hear from you

Fromelles Association of Australia

Contacts

The Fromelles Association welcomes all contact regarding this soldier.
(Contact: royce@fromelles.info or geoffrey@fromelles.info).
We also urge any family members to contact and register with the Australian Army
(Contact: army.uwc@defence.gov.au or phone 1800 019 090).

Donations

The Fromelles Association maintains this web site, purely by donations received.
If you are able, please contribute to the upkeep of this resource.
(Contact: bill@fromelles.info ).