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Harry Ratcliffe was born at 11 Mary Street in Warton with Lindeth, a village just to the north of Carnforth, his birth being registered in the June quarter of 1892. His parents William and Agnes Ratcliffe (nee Anderson) married in the December quarter of 1886 and Harry was one of at least six children, the others being; Margaret (1887), Elizabeth (1889), Lily (1894), William (1897) and George (1901).

In 1901 Harry and his family still lived at 11 Mary Street and his father William was employed in the local iron works as a `blast furnace charger`. Sadly, in 1907 Harry`s mother died and the Census of 1911 shows Harry living in as a servant for Samuel and Ellen Rigby at the Wellington Hotel in Dalton in Furness. His three younger siblings, Lily, William and George had gone to live with an Aunt Lily and Uncle Richard Edmondson at 9 Jackson Terrace in Carnforth. Harry`s two eldest sisters, Margaret (Baines) and Elizabeth (Gladstone) had both married by 1911 and they were also living in Carnforth in Ramsden Street.

Harry enlisted into the Army on the 11th December 1915 signing his papers at Lancaster. He was a single man and he gave his address as 12 Ramsden Street in Carnforth and his occupation at the time was a pig breeder. His medical inspection revealed that he was only a small chap, standing at five feet one and a quarter inches tall and weighing just 135lbs. For official purposes his eldest married sister Margaret Baines of 12 Hunter Street in Carnforth was noted as being his next of kin. He was issued with the service number 39323 and then posted to the reserve. He was mobilised on the 29th May 1916 and then posted to the 16th (Reserve) Battalion of the King`s Liverpool Regiment. On the 29th December 1916 Harry was then transferred to the Training Reserve. By the 17th April 1917 he had been transferred to the 2nd Battalion Loyal North Lancashire Regiment and was issued with the service number 36267. The following day he was on his way to Egypt to join the Battalion.

Harry boarded the `SS Transylvania` at Marseille on the 3rd May 1917 which was bound for Alexandria with a full complement of allied troops. The following morning the Transylvania was struck by two torpedoes fired from a German U-boat, the ship eventually sinking. Sadly, Harry Ratcliffe was named amongst the 412 casualties, his papers stating `drowned at sea 4th May 1917`.

A number of bodies were later discovered having being washed ashore near the town of Savona in the Gulf of Genoa, Italy. Amongst those recovered was the body of Private Harry Ratcliffe and he was later buried in the Savona Town Cemetery.

To read more on the sinking of the SS Transylvania – click here

After the war Harry`s family took receipt of his British War and Victory Medals to which he was entitled. They would also receive a memorial plaque (pictured below) and scroll bearing his name and in recognition of his sacrifice.

The memorial plaque given to Harry's next of kin

The memorial plaque given to Harry’s next of kin

Private Harry Ratcliffe is remembered on the Carnforth War Memorial pictured below.


Carnforth War Memorial 1Carnforth War Memorial - panel

Rank: Private
Service No: 36267
Date of Death: 04/05/1917
Age: 25
Regiment/Service: The Loyal North Lancashire Regiment, 2nd Bn.

Janet Davis
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