Born 17th May 1894 in Inchinnan, Renfrewshire, Scotland, George was one of eight children to George and Christina Sharp. Being brought up on “Cleavans Farm” Renfrewshire meant an early career as a farmer but it wasn’t long before he sought to broaden his horizons. Archive records show at the young age of 18 he departed Glasgow on a ship called Glenarm Head, heading for Quebec Canada, arriving on 3rd May 1913.
 
George had only been in Canada for two years when he enlisted in the 73rd Royal Highlanders of Canada in Montreal, Quebec. This was on the 27th October 1915 when he was only 21 years old. Having given up the life of a civilian for the duration of the war he was soon giving up the life of a bachelor. Only two weeks after enlisting he married his love, Alice Ironside in Montreal.

 

In May 1916 both George and his new wife were married again. This time the ceremony took place in Stricken, Aberdeen—home of the Ironside family.

Background

George Boyd Sharp and Wife -Western Front Witness- Sample Last Action Hero soldier research –Search for WW1 soldiers
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Private. George Boyd Sharp (Sample Extracts)

Britain declared war on Germany on 4th August 1914 and within days Canada had pledged support to the motherland. The impact that Canadian soldiers were to have on the war was great although initially their army numbered only 3,110 men. Recruitment was carried out quickly and within 2 months, 32,000 Canadian soldiers had crossed the Atlantic.
 
When George was killed he was not serving with the 73rd battalion but the 13th. As the previous poster shows, the 73rd was the third battalion (each of 1000 men) raised to serve as ‘Royal Highlanders of Canada’ but as losses mounted men were inevitably drawn from this battalion to keep the 13th up to fighting strength.
 
The 13th was part of the first draft of Canadian soldiers who left for Britain in September 1914. Together with 3 other battalions—all with Scottish connections - they made up the 3rd Brigade of the 1st Canadian Division. After training in the U.K. they were dispatched to the Western Front in May

Setting the Scene

Royal Highlanders of Canada Badge-Western Front Witness- Sample Last Action Hero soldier research –Search for WW1 soldiers
1915 just in time to face the German attack known as the Second Battle of Ypres. Here the Germans broke the Hague convention by their use of poisonous chlorine gas.
 
George Boyd’s enlistment date would suggest that he was a replacement for casualties sustained in this fighting. He was certainly in their ranks in time for the Battle of Vimy Ridge.
From the summit of Vimy Ridge George Sharp could have seen the hummocks and pit bings that lie around the industrial towns of Loos and Lens. Most conspicuous is the ‘double crassier’- twin peaks of mine waste - that conceal from view the low hill on which George would lose his life.
 
The Germans had been pleased to hold this area as its coal was helping to fuel their industrial production but the loss of Vimy Ridge in April meant that these areas were now much more vulnerable. Throughout the summer, Canadian forces continued to push the Germans back and on the 15th August 1917 the 1st Canadian Division took part in an offensive known as the Battle of Hill 70.

George's Last Action

Double Crassier Vimy Ridge-Western Front Witness- Sample Last Action Hero soldier research –Search for WW1 soldiers
Map of Hill 70-Western Front Witness- Sample Last Action Hero soldier research –Search for WW1 soldiers
At 04.25 George Sharp would have witnessed an unusual bombardment in which drums of burning oil were launched at the Germans by specially trained Royal Engineers. These lit the dawn sky with yellow-orange flames and created thick clouds of smoke that drifted across No-mans land. Artillery guns and howitzers (short barreled guns) roared into action and shells whizzed over the heads of the Canadian infantry to smash into the German defences. As well as high explosives, smoke shells were used to provide cover for the advancing Canadians.
 
Despite earlier precautions the 13th Royal Highlanders were subjected to salvo after salvo from their own guns. The German guns soon joined in and George Sharp’s unit was shelled by both sides. To top it all, some of the German shells contained mustard gas. With morale at rock bottom the 13th was cheered by the skirl of the pipes as a piper of the adjoining 16th battalion marched along the parapet of their trench. He seemed to become a target of the gunners but despite toppling a couple of times he carried on and entered the trench further along, completely unscathed.
Between 7:00 a.m. and 9:00 a.m. on the morning of the 15th, the Germans carried out four counter attacks to regain their lost trenches. The Germans rapidly brought up additional battalions to double their strength and over the following three days, the Germans executed no less than 21 counterattacks. The Canadians held on but a lot of good men were lost including George Sharp.
On Easter Monday 1917 all the Canadian units on the Western Front converged for the attack on Vimy Ridge.
 
In preparation for the attack (from January 1917) Canadian units carried out regular raids on the German front line. These were costly in terms of casualties (1400 men were killed or wounded) but they were very valuable in gaining information about enemy defences. It is likely that George would have taken part in at least one of these raids as inexperienced soldiers were given the chance to reconnoiter the area of front over which they would attack. He would be aware of the strength of the German positions opposite for example the depth of their wire, the location of concrete machine gun positions and (where trenches were entered) the location of their dug outs. George’s Division was closest to Arras facing Hill 135, and he was put through rigorous and detailed training for the attack.
 
On the 9th April 1917, George went over the top during a blizzard. The Canadians slipped and slithered forward on the wet, chalk surface but within two hours they had seized the German front line.

Into Battle

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On 10th April they resumed their attack with the snow now blowing into the faces of the enemy and they were on top of top of the Bavarian Regiment opposite before they saw them. It was a stunning victory.
At the Vimy Ridge Memorial 11,000 Canadian servicemen who died in France and who have no known grave are commemorated here including George Boyd Sharp who's name can be found on the side of the memorial.
 
George Sharp is unusual in that he is also commemorated in Dud Corner Cemetery near Loos (second cross, plot 6, row K). One possible explanation is that he is known to be buried in this cemetery but in an unidentified grave.

In Memorium

George Sharp Named Vimy Memorial-Western Front Witness- Sample Last Action Hero soldier research –Search for WW1 soldiers
 

SAMPLE SOLDIER RESEARCH

The featured research portfolio was carried out for the relative of Private George Boyd Sharp who joined the Royal Highlanders of Canada and was killed in action at the Battle of Hill 70 on 15th August 1917.
 
We have included extracts from George's Last Action Hero Portfolio to illustrate the level of detail and unique insight that will be provided on your soldier's journey and his experience of the Great War. With every bespoke research portfolio we will endeavor to include, where possible, copies of documentation found relating to your relatives story.