Captain George Geoffrey Ziegler was born in Woodchurch, Cheshire c.1895. The 1901 census shows him living with his widowed mother, Margaret, a housemaid and a cook. He was a bight young man who went on to study Bio-Chemistry at Caius College, Cambridge University.
On the 11th September 1914, aged 19, Ziegler enlisted with the 20th (3rd University and Public Schools) Battalion Royal Fusiliers. The Battalion was raised at Epsom by the University and Public Schools Men’s Force. They trained near Epsom for around nine months and then joined the 98th Brigade, 33rd Division at Clipstone Camp, Mansfield, Notts on 26th June 1915. The Brigade then moved to Salisbury Plain for final training and firing practice in August. In October 1914 we find mention of Ziegler in the London Gazette, stating that he had been given the temporary rank of Lieutenant whilst still in training. This was common practice, as all the newly formed battalions need junior and senior NCOs and Officers. There weren’t enough to go around from the regular army so some people, like Ziegler, found themselves civilians one day and Officers the next. He was given the rank of Acting Captain in 1917. It is interesting to note that when he was promoted to Acting Captain he was still a Temporary Lieutenant, after three years’ service. He obviously wasn’t being fast-tracked.
Ziegler landed in France in November 1915, near Morbecque,
where his Battalion then transferred to the 19th Division. He fought
in several key battles, including the Battle of the Somme (1st July-
18th November 1916), one of the bloodiest battles in history.
Approximately one million servicemen were killed or wounded, with Ziegler among
the many wounded soldiers. Once he had recovered from his injuries, Ziegler,
now a Captain of the 13th Battalion Royal Fusiliers, returned to
fight in several battles, including the Battle of Passchendaele (31st
July- 6th November 1917).
In 1918, Ziegler demonstrated a great deal of bravery in Ghissignies, for which he received the Military Cross. A citation from the London Gazette on 3rd October 1919 reads:
For marked gallantry and good work during the operations near Ghissignies on the 24th October, 1918. He led his company forward over a distance of some four thousand yards, his right flank being completely unprotected and captured the village of Ghissignies. He then, under heavy fire, consolidated and maintained his position for forty-eight hours. Over a hundred prisoners, twenty machine guns and two heavy field guns were captured and many of the enemy killed.
Ziegler also won the more common British War Medal, Victory
Medal and the 1914-15 Star during his service.
An avid sportsman, Ziegler enjoyed playing sports in his free time, and even won a few awards off the battlefield!
In afternoon played in rain the cricket match near billet against the 52 squadron RFC, we won pretty easily.
(Extract from his diary, 7th August 1917)
Battalion Sports in the afternoon. C Comp [sic] was a long way ahead of others on points. I got 2nd in the 100 yards Officer race Major Hickley 20 yards start from scratch. Bare Back Wrestling AB vs CD. C&D won. I got Templer and Bowers off and Phillips got me off from behind.
(Extract from his diary, 19th July 1917)
After the war, Ziegler was de-commissioned but retained the rank of Captain. He died in January 1976, aged 81.