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Henry Dewhurst was born in 1896 in Preston. His father was James Dewhurst (b. 1856 in Preston), an insurance agent. His mother was Elizabeth Watkinson (b. 1858 in Preston). James and Elizabeth were married in 1883 and they had 6 children but 4 died in infancy. Henry had a younger brother John (b. 1891). In 1911, the family were living at 1 Poulton Street, Ashton-on-Ribble, and Henry was working as a grocer’s assistant, but he would later follow his father as an insurance agent.

Henry was married in August 1914, only a few days after Britain declared War on Germany. His wife was Mary Balshaw (b. 1893 in Bamber Bridge). They had two children, one was Joan (b. 1915), the other child’s name is not recorded in the military file. When Henry enlisted in September 1916 he was living at 43 Fishwick View, Preston, but after he was called up Mary moved to 108 Station Road, Bamber Bridge to be closer to her family. Henry enlisted originally with the Army Service Corps with service number 6798 but was then transferred to 1/4Bn L.N.LAN.R. with new service number 203106. Henry was sent to France on 27 April 1917 and was briefly attached to 7Bn Royal Irish Rifles before joining 1/4Bn in the field on 14 May 1917.

In the first weeks of May 1917, 1/4Bn was in billets at Houlle, near St Omer in France, engaged in training, and on 6 May they marched to Arneke and then entrained for Poperinghe and then Ypres, where they were billeted in the prison. They went into the trenches at St Julien (Sint Juliaan) on 15 May (the day Henry arrived) and although the first couple of days were quiet, there was heavy shelling on 18-19. They were relived on 21 May and returned to billets. They then alternated relief with working parties and a little training until 27 May when they returned to the trenches near Sint Juliaan. On 1-2 June they launched a gas attack of 500 canisters on the German lines. The Germans replied with a gas attack on Ypres on 4 June. Casualties for 1/4Bn were relatively light. An attack was planned to take place south of Ypres on 7 June and 1/4Bn were to cause a distraction by pretending to mount an attack from their position to the north. On 7 June, at 3.10am, 19 mines were exploded at Wytschaete/Messines and the artillery behind 1/4Bn launched their diversionary barrage. The Germans retaliated and ‘caused a few casualties’ but activity slowed quickly. Henry Dewhurst was one of the casualties; he was 31 years old and had been at the front for less than a month. 1/4Bn were finally relieved on 12 June.

When Henry’s family returned the submission form to the Harris Museum to have his name added to their Roll of Honour they believed that Henry had been killed whilst attached to A Company of the Royal Irish Rifles.

The original Harris Museum RoH submission form compiled by his family

Rank: Private
Service No: 203106
Date of Death: 07/06/1917
Regiment/Service: The Loyal North Lancashire Regiment, 1st/4th Bn.
Panel Reference: Panel 41 and 43.

Other men from 1/4Bn killed on 7 June 1917:

Bill Brierley
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