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Harry Helm was the eldest of three children born in Preston to Richard and Maria Helm (nee Porter). He was born in the June quarter of 1897 a year after his parents had married. Harry was followed by a sister Sarah Jane in 1899 and a brother Denis in 1913.

Richard Helm was employed by the Lancashire & Yorkshire Railway Company at Preston and was working as a railway engine fireman in 1901 when the family lived in Whittingham Street. Maria`s sister Sarah Jane Porter, a cotton weaver was also boarding with the family at the time. By 1911 the family had moved house to live at number 6 Bulmer Street in Ashton on Ribble, Richard Helm was still on the railways, Harry was a cotton weaver and his sister Sarah Jane was attending school.

Prior to his enlistment it seems that Harry had left the cotton mill and had gone to work at Foster`s Soho Foundry in Preston as an apprentice moulder. On the 8th September 1914 he enlisted for the duration of the war and at his medical inspection he declared his age as 19 years and 4 months which was incorrect, he was actually 17 years and 4 months old so had added two years on. He was only 5`3” tall and weighed just 103lbs so was by no means a big lad for his age. He had grey eyes, brown hair and a fair complexion. Harry passed his medical inspection and was allocated the number 14302 and posted to the 9th Battalion. His father Richard Helm of 6 Bulmer Street, Ashton in Preston was recorded as his official next of kin.

The Battalion remained in training in various camps in England until the autumn of 1915 before sailing for France on the 25th September of that year.

On the 19th January 1916 the Battalion took part in its first offensive operation of the war, being detailed to support an attack made by the 2nd Royal Irish Rifles on Le Touquet Salient, causing a diversion by means of a feint attack, the attack was successful although they had sixteen killed and wounded including two Officers.

For the whole of February 1916 the Battalion stayed at Steenewerck as the Division remained in Corps reserve. During the months of March, April and May 1916 the Battalion was moved around with periods in the front line trenches, alternating with stays in billets at Neuf Berquin, Ostreville, Tinques, Maiziere and Camblain l`Abbe and casualties were fairly numerous.

Sadly, Harry was one of the casualties on the 15th May 1916, according to the newspaper report he was a bomb thrower and was killed in a dug-out after returning from an attack.

The Preston Guardian published the following information after his parents had been informed of their son`s death.Helm 1

Just three items of Harry`s personal belongings were returned to his family; his Identity disc, a wallet and five photographs.

Richard Helm signed for his son`s 1915 Star, British War and Victory Medals after the war.

Harry was buried with honour in Ecoivres Military Cemetery, Mont-St. Eloi. His family had the following words inscribed at the foot of his grave;


On the one year anniversary of Harry`s death members of his family published remembrance notices in the Lancashire Evening Post.Helm 2

Rank: Private
Service No: 14302
Date of Death: 15/05/1916
Age: 19
Regiment/Service: The Loyal North Lancashire Regiment, 9th Bn.

Janet Davis
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