Pte George Motley, 3379056 East Lancs Regt

1902 Oct 25 Born 6 Dockfield,Windhill,Shipley, son of Thomas William Motley (died 1913 age 52 at Clayton Workhouse.) and Sarah Elizabeth Ickeringill

1911 census living at 15 Lorne St, Shipley

George Motley was put into care when about 11 years old until he was 18. The reasons why are not entirely clear but his mother made several applications to the authorities to get her children back until they were put permanently into care or fostered out. He absconded several times to go back to his mother so he was then sent to a Sutcliffe Industrial school in Bath aged 13 from 1915 to 1917. and got into trouble with the authorities there and also the police in Bath for stealing a bicycle with his brother Herbert who was also there.

1917 He joined the Gordon Boy’s Messenger Corps in Bournemouth in 1917. The Gordon Boys were an organisation formed in memory of General Gordon, the Governor General of the Sudan during the 1884 uprising, and provided work for local youngsters, especially as messenger boys.

Some comments from former Gordon Boys give you an idea of what they did "When I left school at 14, it was the only thing I could get with some other boys.. Quite a lot of big houses, or shops, might send for a Gordon Boy and the pay was sixpence (2.5p) for an hour's work, from which the brigade took two pence of it. '' Another former Gordon Boy said: "I used to take old ladies out in bath chairs, take blind ladies for a walk, deliver picture papers for all the picture houses, worked at washing, scrubbing, polishing, bill delivering." One job at the football ground was taking the results at half-time to the post office and at the cricket grounds doing the scorecards. "We were treated like being in the Army with lance-corporals and sergeant-majors.'' For nearly 50 years the boys, in their distinctive uniforms and pill-box hats, were a familiar sight until their numbers dwindled and the brigade finally closed down in 1937.

1919 Dec 8. He enlisted at Fulwood Barracks in Preston. His next of kin is given as Sarah Elizabeth Holt, of Padiham, his mother. There is no record of a marriage of his mother to a Holt. Although his mother never married Holt, she claimed in 1914 to have married him to a judge in Bradford to regain custody of most of her children by saying that her home circumstances had now improved but most of her children were taken away permanently.

1921 Apr 10. Went missing with John Steer. The East Lancs Regimental records have this entry, which was done in 1926, rather than contemporaneous "missing presumed dead. on or since 10.4.21"

The local Guarda Report by Sgt James Crehan who found the bodies in Jan 1926, says that the information given to him indicated that the 2 men " either deserted or wandered away from their post in Killarney and came on to Barraduff where they were taken prisoner by a party of the Irish Forces. They were kept prisoner in several farmhouses around the townlands of Anablaha, Raheen, Maughantoorig, Gneeveguilla for a period of about 6 months and they were eventually shot and buried in Anablaha Bog."

Jeremiah Murphy in his memoir of Kerry 1902-1925 "When Youth was Mine" does say that several spies were apprehended in the spring and early summer of 1921 "Some of these pulled the old trick of pretending to be deserters. How they expected to get away with such a slim veneer baffles me. The authorities were desperate for information, or these fellows must have been overtly anxious to serve in that capacity. Either way it was suicide. Two of these strangers were seen riding on bicycle along the main road to Killarney. They were overtaken by Danny Reen and others from the Rathmore Company (IRA) and taken along for further investigation. They readily admitted being deserters. No charges could be held against them, but they were held and moved about from one company to another for some weeks afterwards. By this time they had become acquainted with a lot of places and people. The IRA reasoned that this might be their intended strategy. A little later they helped convict another spy and this only served to thicken the plot. They were you care-free, intelligent - typical middle class English. .... This sudden rush of deserters implied to the IRA that there was going to be a big anti-IRA operation coming up, and that the British were gathering intelligence in advance of it "Otherwise why should so many deserters show up in this part of the country?" Eventually information on a large scale round-up reached the local IRA Our two young English "Gentlemen deserters" who had been arrested about a month before were now shot as spies. They were buried in a lonely bog, but their remains were given to their relatives by the Free State authorities. A rather tragic end to a mission which must have appealed to them when they took it on. Well someone had to get information but it is too bad when someone gets caught at it. I think that this refers to Motley and Stay. In fact they were held for perhaps up to 6 months before being executed by an IRA group that included Humphrey Sullivan of Headford.

Tans, Terror and Troubles, T Ryle Dwyer, tells that two British deserters confirmed that Thomas O'Sullivan, an 80 year old tramp, was a frequent visitor to the police. Old Tom was tried and shot by the IRA as a spy, with little against him other than he had been known to talk to the police. He was shot on May 3rd 1921 and his body used as a trap to lure the police. "The two deserters were subsequently shot after they were handed over to the IRA in Cork" In fact they were shot in Kerry by local IRA men.

Gerald Murphy in The Year of the Disappearance says that over 100 soldiers appear in correspondence lists from British, but these lists were never made public, but are available in the archives. The Irish government appear to have established that only 5 were deserters. 26 of these soldiers were in Cork

1926 Jan 15. The local Guarda find the bodies of Stay and Motley in Anablaha bog on the basis of "information received" but for various reasons they were not recovered until early 1927, when it was returned to Yorkshire for burial. I can find nothing about the discovery of his body in Irish papers

1927 Jan 18. According to Shipley Times and Express his body was finally buried in England. Son of late Thomas Motley of 10 Hargreave St, Shipley. Buried at Nab Wood Cemetery. His mother is recorded as Mrs Mulcahey when she attended the funeral of her son in 1927. There is a record of Sarah E Motley marrying Jeremiah Mulcahey in 1925. Buried in Plot F470, Nab Wood Cemetery, Bingley: Plot F470.3 The burial plot was purchased by Sarah Mulcahey.

Local Paper article in 2011

Ancestry tree

British Soldiers died in Ireland