Photograph of Harry in Tameside Local Studies and Archives Centre. Reference: MR4/17/261
(L to R) Military Medal; British War Medal; Allied Victory Medal
Harry was born on approximately the 30th June 1895 in Salford. His father's name was George Herbert and his mother was Alma. He was an only child and in 1911 the family were living in a house called 'Montauban' in Whalley Range, Manchester. This may have been 17 Withington Road, which is where Harry was living in 1915.
Harry attended Manchester Grammar School and was a member of their Officer Training Corps (OTC).
The First World War broke out in August 1914. Harry attested for the Army on the 10th December 1915 under the Derby Scheme. This meant he was free to return home until he was called up. This happened in January 1916 and on the 25th Harry was enlisted. He was working as an apprentice to a 'meat purveyor' at this time.
On this day Harry was given a medical examination. The record of this has survived and so we know that Harry was 5 feet 7 3/4 inches tall. His weight is unclear but it appears to be 159 pounds. He had grey eyes and a fresh complexion. Harry had been a gymnast until 1913 when he suffered from heart strain and was forced to give it up.
Harry passed his medical and was enlisted into the reserve of the 6th Battalion of the Manchester Regiment (3/6th Battalion). He was given the service number 4622.
Harry trained with the 3/6th Battalion for 7 months until he was assigned to the 1/6th Battalion of the King's (Liverpool Regiment) on the 4th August 1916. He was only with them for 5 weeks, as the 21st Battalion of the Manchester Regiment needed men. Harry was one of them and so he was sent to France on the 11th September 1916. At some point he was given the service number 43527.
While the 21st Battalion was at Beaumont Hamel on the 11th January 1917 Harry was serving as a stretcher bearer, so his job was to move forward and bring the wounded back to British lines for treatment. He rescued one of his officers, and although the man died from his wounds Harry's bravery was so great that he was awarded the Military Medal. His award was published in the London Gazette on the 12th March 1917. The medal itself was presented to Harry by the Duke of Norfolk at Arundel Castle. Harry was there recovering from wounds. We don't know when this presentation took place.
Harry's experience of the OTC seems to have served him well. By mid November Harry had been promoted to Lance Corporal but was serving as an Acting Lance Sergeant, two ranks higher. At around the same time the 21st Battalion was one of the British units moved to Italy to help them in their fight against Austria Hungary. This change of location doesn't seem to have affected Harry's fighting ability, in January 1918 his rank of Lance Sergeant was confirmed, and he began to receive the higher rate of pay it earned.
Harry left the 21st Battalion on the 13th March 1918 and returned to the UK. He had been selected to train to be an Officer. We don't know what Harry did for the next four months but on the 5th July 1918 he was posted to the 16th Officer Cadet Battalion (OCB), which was based at Kinmel Park near Rhyl in Wales.
Training to be an officer at an OCB took four and a half months, so the First World War ended before Harry graduated. He remained an Officer Cadet until the 4th March 1919 when he was commissioned as a Temporary Second Lieutenant in the Manchester Regiment.
Harry relinquished his commission and left the Army on the 1st September 1921. We don't know what jobs he had during his time as an officer.
Harry returned to Manchester and married Marion Gittins between April and June 1934. Their daughter Alma was born between January and March 1936. Harry died in Manchester between April and June 1955. He was 59 years old.