Willie Chafers ancestors were brought up at Skyers farm, Carrside, Epworth, on the Turbary Road.

George William Chafer c 1894 or Willie as he was known was either the grandson or great grandson of William Chafer of Skyers farm born c1815, who had siblings Hannah, Jane, Mary, Thomas and George, they were the children of Isaac and Leah Chafer.

The branches of the Chafer family are large and well spread out, it is the branch that went to Rotherham looking for employment that concerns us here, One of the children had a child Lucy who gave birth to George William Chafer c 1894 in Bradford. At the outbreak of WW1, George William Chafer joined the Duke of York's own Regiment, the East Yorkshire Regiment and was posted to C Company, 1st Battalion stationed at MA`Aulte just south of Albert in France. On June 3/ 4 in 1916 in the trenches under heavy shellfire a messenger was struck and rendered half buried and unconcious near to Willie, Willie seeing the gravity of the situation and although already severely wounded himself in three places, removed the message from the mans pocket and ran along the ruined parapet of the trench whilst being under shellfire and machine gunfire, Willie reached the company commander with the message where he collapsed from his own serious injuries, he was awarded the Victoria Cross for the action he took. He displayed great initiative and devotion to duty at a critical moment, at that time he was known as the smallest and youngest VC. His medal is on display at THe Prince of Wales Regimental Museum York

Willie was invalided out and later that same year a monument was erected to the 170 or so men of the streets of Beverley who had lost their lives inthe war, it was decided to request Willie Chafer VC to dedicate this statue, him having been in the East York Regiment, Willie arrived on crutches as he was waiting for a false limb to be fitted, he dedicated the monument on 11th November 1916, Willie was introduced to the mayor of Beverley and he also went round several schools where he was well received by pupils and teachers.

Over the years the monument has deteriorated to the extent that a new one has been commissioned, this will be rededicated on Saturday the 11th November 2006, 90 years to the day from the original, Beverley Civic Society have requested that any relatives of Willie Chafer VC (as he never married there will not be any direct relatives) be present at the ceremony to represent Willies presence, there will be a short service at St Nicholas Church, Beverley at 10.15am on the 11th, this will be followed by a short 5 minute walk to the site of the new monument where the dedication will take place, then a local hostelry close by the monument has allowed a room to be used where various military and personal items and photographs, of Willie, and other soldiers will be on view for anyone to see.

Willie, after recouperating tried his hand at dairy and poultry farming, he ended his working life with a job at the Ministry of Labour in Rotherham where he died in 1966 at the local hospital.

Berna Moody of Beverley Civic Society who has arranged all this can be contacted on 01482 882063 if any further information is required! Please try to attend if you can!

Ellis Lee
Isle of Axholme Family History Society Copyright 2007
Copyright 2007 Isle of Axholme Family History Society. All Rights Reserved.
I came across the following entries while looking through the Epworth Bells dated 11th November 1916
A Memorial to
George William Chafer