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The following article was written and researched by Sylvia.  Harry was her grandmother’s brother.  Thank you for sharing his story.

Thomas Henry Murphy was the only son of Jesse and Ellen Murphy and was born in Tatton Street, Salford, Lancs on 9th Aug 1893.

Within the family he was always known as Harry.

He was the only son in a family of five children.

His mother, Ellen, died when he was 3 and a half, leaving Jesse with five children under 10 (Nellie, Jessie, Annie, Harry Frances).

(My grandmother , the third child ,went to live permanently with Ellen’s sister to help Jesse cope.)

When Harry left school he had a job selling milk from a handcart.

Harry enlisted at Salford into the Manchester Regiment (regimental number 23642).


His first dated letter that I have is 2nd April 1915. The earlier one records his arrival in C Company 3rd Battalion Manchester Regiment at Cleethorpes.

His transfer into the Loyal North Lancashire Regiment (22086) is first mentioned in a letter dated 12th June 1915. He tells the family to write to 3rd Regiment LNL Regt at Felixstowe Camp. He wrote on the 6th August 1915 that he had arrived in France the Wednesday before, which tallies with regimental records that he arrived in France on 3rd August 1915.


In a letter dated 29th September 1915 he mentions being gassed at Vermilles.

The last letter I have is dated 12th April 1916.

In all his letters his main concern is for the family, not himself.

He did write a letter home, which I do not have, after the 1st day of the Somme.

He explained that the evening after the battle many men were lying injured in No Man’s Land and the officer asked for volunteers to crawl out under cover of darkness to rescue them. Harry volunteered and dragged back 6 men during the night. The officer recommended Harry for the Military Medal for rescuing fellow soldiers from No Man’s Land under enemy fire. Harry’s letter informed his family he would be coming home to receive the medal and all the family were excited and proud. However the next communication was that he had been killed. Eventually they were informed he was killed on July 15th 1916. They did receive a letter in 1917 saying he was buried at Contalmaison Chateau Cemetery but found out later this was not true. His body was never found because he was blown up. His name is on the Thiepval memorial. Harry was 22 years old.

His father, Jesse, went to Heaton Park, Manchester, which was being used for army training, and was presented with Harry’s Military Medal.


I have 24 of the letters Harry wrote to his sisters plus photographs of Harry.

Also a letter from the War Office and two silk memoriam book marks in the family Bible.

Every year on Harry’s birthday, and the date of his death, my Grandmother put out his photo and medal.

Rank: Lance Corporal
Service No: 22086
Date of Death: 15/07/1916
Age: 22
Regiment/Service: The Loyal North Lancashire Regiment, 1st Bn.
Awards: M M

Paul McCormick
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