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Harry was born in the West Gorton area of Manchester, the son of Henry and Sarah Ann. It has not been possible to establish if his name was actually Henry but he was known as Harry to distinguish him from his father. Nothing else is known of his private life except that he was married to Constance Dorothy Bentley who, in the early 1920s was living at 58 Guy Wood Lane, Romiley.

Harry originally enlisted into one of the Manchester Regiment Territorial battalions – the 1/6th. His original service number was 3951 suggesting that he probably joined up in the late autumn of 1914 or winter of 1915. However, it was not until after the beginning of 1917 that he went on active service with a service number of 251310. All soldiers serving with Territorial Battalions were reallocated six digit service numbers at that time.

At some point, probably after recovering from wounds or illness, he was transferred to the 1/4th Battalion of the North Lancashires and, later a final transfer brought him to the 9th Battalion.

On 9 April 1918, the German army opened the second phase of its spring offensive in what would become known as the Battle of the Lys. As three weeks before, in the initial phase further south, the attack was of overwhelming proportions and British troops were pushed back. At 3.15pm, the North Lancashires were rushed out of reserve billets. They were ordered to take part in a counter-attack on the advancing Germans near Steenwerck, a small hamlet about 8 kilometres south of the French town of Armetieres. The counter attack went in at 5.30pm and stopped the Germans for the remainder of the evening.

At 2am, on the 10th, the North Lancashires attacked again with orders to push the enemy back over the River Lys. Again they were successful but, later, they had to withdraw their line. At 9am, they attacked in a final attempt to hold back the advancing Germans. The Battalion’s War Diary notes that “progress was being made when the enemy attacked across the Croix du Bac – St Maur Road”. Over the remainder of the day, the North Lancashires came under increasing pressure and had to withdraw, in stages, back to Steenwerck.
Rank: Sergeant
Number: 235114
Date of Death: 10 April 1918
Age: 31
Cemetery: Croix-du-Bac British Cemetery, Steenwerck, Nord, France

This article has been reproduced with kind permission from the Stockport 1914-18 website.


Paul McCormick
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