54398 Private George Harvey, 3rd Battalion, the West Yorkshire Regiment died 26 November 1918 due to sickness.[1]  He was 28 years old and left a widow and 3 children, 1 born after his death.  He is commemorated on Cockfield War Memorial.

Family Details

George was born 24 September 1891 at Threlkeld, Cumberland [2] the son of George and Emma Harvey.  There were at least 8 children:[3]

  • Thomas Charles born 3 June 1881 in North Wales
  • Elizabeth born 27 July 1884 in North Wales
  • Stephen born 13 April 1888 at Threlkeld, Cumberland
  • George born 24 September 1891 at Threlkeld, Cumberland
  • Mary Ann 1 July 1894 at Threlkeld, Cumberland
  • Joseph 28 January 1897 at Threlkeld, Cumberland
  • Emma born January 1899 at Threlkeld, Cumberland
  • Robert born 9 February 1903 at Threlkeld, Cumberland

In 1901, the family lived at Cockermouth, Cumberland.  Father, 43-year old George was born in Cornwall and worked as a quarryman (granite).  His wife 40-year old Emma was born in Leicestershire.  20-year old Thomas worked as a granite sett maker.[4]  By 1911, the family had moved to Cockfield, Co. Durham and lived at Summerson’s Mill, Cockfield.  Both 53-year old George and his son 20-year old George were employed as quarrymen.

In 1916, George married Marion (nee Sparks) in Teesdale.[5]  Marion was the daughter of Henry and Margaret Spark, sister to Jacob and Isabella.  She was born in 1892 [6] at Woodland and in 1911 the family lived at Cockfield.[7]  George and Marion had 3 children:

  • Henry George and Nora born 17 July 1917
  • Mona born 3 January 1919 [8]

The Absent Voters’ List for the Cockfield Polling District records a George Harvey absent from Cockfield and serving as 54398 Private with the 3rd Battalion, the West Yorkshire Regiment.[9] A Commonwealth War Grave Commission entry has not been traced.

George’s brother GS/15060 Private Stephen Harvey 2nd Dragoons (Royal Scots Greys) died 1 February 1921 aged 32.  He is buried in Durham (St. Cuthbert) Churchyard.  His wife was Mary Ellen Harvey, 102 Dans Castle, Tow Law, Co. Durham.[10]

Service Details

54398 Private George Harvey, 3rd Battalion, the West Yorkshire Regiment enlisted 12 February 1916 [11] and was discharged 31 August 1918 due to illness.  He died after discharge, 26 November 1918.[12]  He was awarded the silver war badge, number B168673.[13]

The 3rd [Reserve] Battalion, the Prince of Wales’s Own [West Yorkshire Regiment] was a regular army battalion which remained in the UK throughout the war.  In August 1914 it moved to Whitley Bay and played part of the Tyne Garrison.[14]

Private  G. Harvey was awarded the British War and Victory medals.[15]

His widow Marion appears to have received his effects.[16]

Death and Burial

The cause of death was influenza and acute pneumonia certified by Dr Anderson.  The death certificate confirms that George worked as a coal miner and was a private serving with the West Yorks. Regiment.  His father-in-law, H. Spark informed the registrar of his death. [17]   He is buried in an unmarked plot in Cockfield cemetery which has been identified by local historian, John Hallimond.


Private George Harvey is commemorated on the Cockfield War Memorial.

Having spoken a known relative and received his agreement, we contacted the CWGC to see whether George Harvey was eligible for a CWGC headstone.  The reply dated 9 April 2020 is given below.  Unfortunately, George Harvey is not eligible.

I can confirm that we have now received an adjudication on the case of Private George Harvey, 54398  which states that unfortunately he has not been accepted for commemoration as a war casualty.

The criteria for official commemoration by the Commonwealth War Graves Commission were agreed by its member governments following its establishment by Royal Charter in 1921. To qualify, an individual must have died between 4 August 1914 and 31 August 1921 whilst in service. If, as in this case, their death occurred within these dates but after discharge, they will be commemorated only if the cause of their death can be attributed to wounds or illness caused or aggravated by their service.

The documentation provided shows that Private Harvey was discharged from service due to sickness and died within the qualifying dates from Influenza and Acute Pneumonia. However, as the actual medical reason for his discharge is unknown and there is no further information or evidence that would support a link between the cause of his death and his service, sadly he cannot meet the criteria for commemoration. The following extract from the report explains how the relevant evidence has been assessed and the decision has been made:  

 ‘A GRO Death Certificate has been submitted for George Harvey who died on 26.11.1918, age 28 [born 1890], at Cockfield, Barnard Castle, County Durham. His occupation was given as ‘Private West Yorks. Coal Miner’ and his causes of death as (1) Influenza (2) Acute Pneumonia. The informant of the death was H. Spark, Father-in-Law, of Cockfield. A page from the Soldiers’ Effects Register, also submitted, states that 54398 Private George Harvey of the West Yorks Regiment was discharged on 31.08.18. The entry is stamped ‘Died After Discharge’ and the beneficiaries of the account were his widow Miriam and Ingram Dawson.  A page from the Soldiers’ Effects Register, also submitted, states that 54398 Private George Harvey of the West Yorks Regiment was discharged on 31.08.18. The entry is stamped ‘Died After Discharge’ and the beneficiaries of the account were his widow Miriam and Ingram Dawson.

 The submitted Medal Index Card specifies that 54398 Pte. George Harvey of the West Yorks Regiment was eligible for the British War & Victory Medals, the Silver War Badge and that he had been ‘dis[charged]’. The corresponding roll for the campaign medals identifies that Pte. Harvey served with the 1/7th Battalion and had been discharged under Para 392 (XVIa) of King’s Regulations on 24.02.19. This discharge date contradicts the death certificate (which gives his death as occurring nearly two months before) and also the discharge date recorded on the Soldiers Effects Register. 

The Silver War Badge Roll details that 54398 Pte. George Harvey of the West Yorkshire Regiment was issued badge B168673 and had enlisted on 12.02.16. He was discharged on 24.02.1919 (which matches the British War & Victory Medal Roll) due to ‘sickness 392 16A’ and he had served overseas.

 A potential explanation for the date of discharge occurring after George Harvey’s death (having confirmed that the records do relate to the same individual) is that the date from the Soldiers’ Effects Register is the date he was placed on the Army Reserve and that he wasn’t discharged from the reserve until after his death (as an administrative measure). This however wouldn’t accord with the award of the Silver War Badge as this wasn’t issued posthumously. 

Three pages from a Pension Record have also been submitted. On verification by the War Graves Adjudication Unit, this is the total number of pages in the file. The first page states that 54398 Pte. George Harvey died on 26.11.18, which matches the death certificate. It also specifies ‘no service docs’.  The next page is Pension Form 36 which specifies ‘George Harvey late’ (which would imply his discharge from the army) was a Private in the West Yorks and had been awarded a gratuity on 11.09.18 of £55. His date of death was also recorded on this form. This award of a gratuity instead of a pension would indicate that there is no evidence of ongoing medical circumstances which would require involvement from the Ministry of Pensions.  The last page in the file is the Award Sheet – First Award which under ‘date of discharge’ states ‘Trans Cl “P” 19.09.18’ [transferred to Class ‘P’ of the Army Reserve] and his cause of discharge was ‘trans: Cl. “P”’. Underneath this it was written ‘Aggrav: by 10% P.’ The award made was for 10% P £50 and 1 yr £5 for a total of £55 (gratuity) and the date given was 10.09.18.  No further information was recorded.

It is clear from the information submitted that Pte. Harvey had been transferred to Class P of the Army Reserve before he died. It is also possible that he wasn’t officially removed from the reserve until February 1919, after he had died. As men on Class P of the Army Reserve were not subject to military discipline Pte. Harvey cannot be considered under the death in service criteria. The only criteria therefore open to him is ‘death after discharge’. However, the military documents only allude to ‘sickness’ and discharge under Para 392 XVIa of King’s Regulations. Although this would indicate that he was discharged as medically unfit for service, as the date given is after his death, the reasoning for his placement on the Army Reserve is likely to have been on medical grounds. There is however no specific information on what the medical causation was and, as his causes of death were not specific to military service or of a chronic nature, there is no evidence on which to base a positive conclusion. The WGAU will however conduct further research should something else comes to light.

As there is no information supporting a correlation between the cause of discharge to Class P of the Army Reserve and the causes of death, and as moreover the causes of death have no evidenced link to military service, this case does not qualify. 

I appreciate that you will be disappointed by this outcome, however, as I am sure you will agree, it is important that the criteria are applied consistently and in line with the decisions that the military authorities came to at the time.

Thank you for taking the time to submit this case and if you have any questions or would like clarification on anything, please do not hesitate to contact us.”


[1] Pension Form 36

[2] England & Wales Birth Index 1837-1915 Bootle, Cumberland Vol.10b p.703 1891 Q3: George William Harvey

[3] Family details provided by Kevin Wallis, courtesy of

[4] 1901 census

[5] England & Wales Marriage Index 1837-1915 Teesdale, Durham Vol.10a p.420 1916 Q3

[6] England & Wales Birth Index 1837-1915 Vol.10a p.270 Teesdale 1892 Q3

[7] 1911 census

[8] England & Wales Birth Index 1916-2005 Vol.10a p.452 Teesdale 1917 Q3 Family details provided by Kevin Wallis, courtesy of

[9] AVL Barnard Castle Division Cockfield Polling District C

[10] Commonwealth War Graves Commission

[11] UK Silver War Badge records 1914-1920

[12] Pension Form 36

[13] UK Silver War Badge records


[15] Medal Roll card index

[16] UK Army Registers of Soldiers’ Effects 1901-1929 – a note “No” and a name J.Ingram Dawson – who is this?

[17] Death certificate dated 28 November 1918