George Halligan (Plot 157)

Born in Bootle in 1899 to George and Mary Halligan, George Junior was the youngest of six sons and one daughter. His father and all working brothers were employed in the shipyards. On the 1911 census, it is just George, his mum and his sister, his Father is still alive but there is no explanation as to where he and his brothers are. 

George joins up to go to war at 17 years and 8 months. He is declared "fit for service" with his records showing he is 4ft 8 and a half inches tall. He was posted on 1 November 1917, when he was 18. He is struggling from the word go and his comrades help him when he has seizures. It is listed that he becomes "aggressive and childlike" and that he has "tried to cut his throat." He is put in hospital for five days and records show he has healed and did not require stitches. It is decided he is not fit to serve, home or abroad, with it acknowledged that his condition has been aggravated by war. His records show that George was discharged on 17 May 1918 and sent to a home for being feeble-minded (actually to Calderstones Hospital). A Pension was awarded to Mary, his mother, as next of Kin of £1.74 for 6 months (about £124 today). 

George left Calderstones at some unknown point and married Margaret Cassidy in 1921. They had one child Mary Ann in 1922. Before his marriage, there is a record of a stowaway on the Mauritania from New York in 1920 which ties up with his dates. No such outward journey has been found, but as the family were very much involved on the docks, who knows? We do not know much about his married life with Margaret. We find George and his daughter Mary Ann living at St Martin's Cottages, Silvester Street, Liverpool. These were the first Council-run properties in Europe, state-of-the-art then but tiny, cramped places. He was there for a few years. 

George Senior, his father died in 1935 and although we have no records of him living with his father on any census it may have coincided with his return to Calderstones. He may have been an escapee. His daughter at this point, is now 14 and is sent to Redcliffe Convent Ormskirk run by Nuns. She told her son that it was "slave labour", working in the laundry and so bad she ran away. We have records of George dying at Calderstones in 1936. Something tragic happened to be returned there but according to his family, all they knew was he had committed suicide. 

Why his daughter was sent to the convent we do not know, but her Grandfather had just died, and George committing suicide may have been too much for her mother and grandmother to handle. His Grandson Frank knew extraordinarily little of this, even his mother, only knew that George was somewhere near Preston. Frank now knows as much as we do and has visited plot 157 near the entrance to Commonwealth War Graves. 

The day George signed up for war set a pattern for what came after and affected so many other lives. His Grandson has now requested George's records from Lancashire Archives, as George's descendant he is entitled to do.