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Harold `s parents were John and Jane Wilson (nee Sumner). John and Jane were married at St. Paul`s Church, Farington on the 2nd May, 1896. Their first child James W. was born in 1896 but sadly he died in the same year.

Harold was the next child born on 18 August, 1897 and he was followed by John (1900), twins Tom and Mark (1901), twins Robert (1902-1902) and Emily (1902-1904), Emily Maud (1904-1904), Fred (1905), Sarah Elizabeth (1907), Margaret Anne (1908), Frank (1910), William (1911) and Doris (1913).

In the 1911 Census the family were living in a four roomed house at 6 Heaton Street, Leyland. Harold`s father was working in a local cotton mill as a weaver and Harold was employed in the local bleach works of Messrs. Stanning & Sons as a cotton cloth bleacher.

On the 21 October, 1915 Harold enlisted and was posted to the 4th (Reserve) Battalion, he was given the service number 4453 which would later be changed to 201732. He had his medical at Avenham Lane in Preston and it was noted that he was 5`5” tall, weighed 9st 8lbs and had a 34 inch chest.

He embarked at Folkestone on the 5 May, 1917 bound for France. He was posted to the 10th Battalion at Etaples on the 24 May, 1917 and joined them in the field on the 3 June, 1917.

The 10th Battalion as part of the 37th Division had just been through the great Arras offensive in April 1917 and casualties had been heavy. A total of 21 Officers and 478 non-commissioned Officers and men killed, wounded or missing. Harold would probably have been one of a number of men sent to reinforce the 10th Battalion at this time.

After the Arras offensive the 37th Division were sent to a relatively quiet sector to recover and reorganise but even so there were still casualties. Unfortunately on the 22 July, 1917 Harold was killed instantly by a shell. The following newspaper article reports that he was buried behind the lines and a cross bearing his name was placed on his grave.


A few of Harold`s personal possessions were returned to his parents in Leyland.

  • Letters
  • Photographs
  • 1 Wallet
  • 1 Religious book
  • 1 Identity Disc

Harold received the British War and Victory Medals and is buried with honour in Torreken Farm Cemetery No.1.

His mother requested his headstone be inscribed;

Rank: Private
Service No: 201732
Date of Death: 22/07/1917
Age: 19
Regiment/Service: The Loyal North Lancashire Regiment, 10th Bn.

Janet Davis
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