George’s sad place in Great War history

Private George Flook, the first victim of the First World War to be buried at St Annes Parish Church
Private George Flook, the first victim of the First World War to be buried at St Annes Parish Church
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Tomorrow, September 16, marks the centenary of the first military burial of the First World War at St Annes Parish Church.

Private George Flook is among more than 44 Great War victims commemorated at the church which gave the town its name.

The grave of Private George Flook at St Annes Parish Church

The grave of Private George Flook at St Annes Parish Church

Pte Flook, who lived with his wife Mary in Hope Street, died peacefully in hospital in Reading, to where he was repatriated after being wounded at the Battle of the Somme.

He served with the North Lancashire regiment and had earlier served at the Dardanelles, where he was buried by falling earth and underwent an operation for his injuries in Manchester before returning to the front in France.

The St Annes Express at the time reported that Mrs Flook had gone to Reading to be with her husband, who was dangerously ill following his seven wounds suffered at the Somme.

He died on September 12, 1916 and was brought home to St Annes for burial.

Under the headline, ‘Impressive Scenes at St Annes’, the Express reported that when the cortege left Hope Street, the coffin was borne by a body of men from Private Flook’s own regiment from the Squires Gate Convalescent Hospital.

“All along the route,” it continued, “there were many manifestations of mourning, the streets being lined with sympathisers.”

When the cortege reached the church, it was met at the Lych Gate by the vicar, Rev HE Butler and “an impressive service was conducted”.

Pte Flook’s burial was followed by those of numerous other victims of the war and the Parish Church has now established a War Memorial Trail around the 44 First World War and 11 Second World War memorial graves.

Gerald Wilson, who has undertaken extensive research into each of the victims buried in the Parish Church graveyard, said: “Each memorial gravestone is marked with a marker board with information about the man and his background and the circumstances of his death.

“The War Memorial Trail will be in place until Remembrance Sunday and guide books are available from the St Annes Parish Office.”