Lance Corporal George Arthur Herdman


George Arthur Herdman was a Freemason, member of Lodge Temperance 2557, a Lance Corporal with the 15th Battalion, Durham Light Infantry and one of our forgotten war heroes. He is not listed in the Lodge Temperance WW1 Roll of Honour although the Lodge registers clearly show he was on war service.

George was proposed by Bro J. R. Welsh and seconded by Bro John Armstrong as a fit and proper person to be made a Mason at the Lodge Temperance 2557 meeting held at the Assembly Rooms, Newcastle Upon Tyne on the 18th January 1915. He was recorded as a 25 year old Head Gardener living at Heathfield Lodge, Low Fell, Gateshead. A successful ballot was held on the 15th February and at the same meeting he was initiated into the Mysteries and Privileges of Ancient Freemasonry. On the 17th May he was passed to the second or Fellowcraft degree and raised to the Sublime degree of a Master Mason on the 21st June 1915. He signed his Grand Lodge certificate on 20th September 1915.

George was born in 1889 in Benwell, Newcastle Upon Tyne to John William Herdman (1860 – 1934), a domestic gardener from Murton, Co. Durham and Mary Cassidy (1861 – 1933) an Irish lass from West Meath, Ireland. John and Mary were married in Newcastle Upon Tyne in 1879 and had seven children including:

  • John Henry (b 1880, Gosforth)
  • Catherine ( b 1882)
  • William (b 1884, Benwell)
  • Joseph (b 1887, Whickham)
  • George Arthur (b 1889, Benwell – 16/10/1932 age 43)
  • Thomas (b 1891, Benwell)
  • Robert (b 1893, Stocksfield)

George enlisted for war service on 11th December 1915 and was assigned as a Private to the 15th Battalion, Durham Light Infantry, and service number 31511. The 15th Battalion DLI was part of the 64th Brigade, 21st Division throughout the war. Unfortunately, George’s service record hasn’t survived so is most likely among the 60% irretrievably damaged or lost completely as a result of enemy bombing in 1940 during the Second World War.

His Medal Roll Index card and Roll have both survived and show he was awarded the British War medal and the Victory medal. His Medal Roll also shows he was a Lance Corporal when he was discharged on 20th August 1918 at the age of 29 in accordance with King’s Regulation paragraph 392 XVI – no longer physically fit for war service discharged on medical grounds having been wounded or taken seriously ill. He was given the Silver War Badge which was issued to service personnel who had been honourably discharged due to wounds or sickness from military service in World War I. There is nothing in his available records which give details of his injuries or illness.

George was married twice. His first wife was Sarah Dobing and they married in Newcastle Upon Tyne in early 1911. They had two children.

  • John (b 1911 – 1934)
  • Mary (b 1919 – d 1919)

Sadly, Sarah died in early 1919, most likely through complications arising from childbirth as her daughter Mary was born and died in the same quarter.

John followed in his father’s footsteps and was the nursery manager at Willington Nurseries, Rose Hill when he died in 1934 at the age of 22, and is buried with his father in Holy Cross Cemetery, Wallsend.

George remarried in late 1919 to Jane Humble in Newcastle Upon Tyne. They had at least three children:

  • Ralph (b 1920 – d 18/01/1932 age 11)
  • Jean (b 1927)
  • Evonia (b 1928 – d 2015)

Sadly, Ralph died on the 18th January 1932 at the age of 11 and was buried in Holy Cross Cemetery, Wallsend.

George died in Dunston Hill Hospital on 16th October 1932 at the age of 43 and is buried at Holy Cross Cemetery with his two sons John and Ralph.