(L to R) 1914-15 Star; British War Medal; Allied Victory Medal
Harry Heap was born in Glossop on the 20th March 1894, the son of John and Harriet Heap. His father was a cotton spinner, labourer and later a foreman at a paper works. The family lived on High Street in Glossop. By 1901 the family had grown to two sons and three daughters. A third son was born by 1911 and the family were living at 13 Silk Street in Glossop. Harry had by now left school and become a tram conductor.
Harry enlisted in the Army on the 8th February 1915 just before his 21st birthday. He joined the 17th Battalion of the Manchester Regiment and was given the service number 9272. Also known as the 2nd City Battalion, this was a ‘pals battalion’ of local lads who enlisted, trained and fought together. His medical report describes him as 5 feet, eight-and-a-half inches tall, and of good physical development.
The pals battalions formed a camp at Heaton Park where Harry undertook training. They left for further training at Belton, Grantham and Larkhill Camp on Salisbury Plain. Harry was trained to be part of the bombing section.
Harry and the 17th Battalion disembarked at Boulogne on 8th November 1915. After travelling through France they began their long term posting to the Somme defences near Maricourt in January 1916. After a short while in the trenches Harry was admitted to the 97th Field Ambulance for an ulcerated leg. After a period in hospital in Rouen he returned to England on the hospital ship SS Copenhagen.
Harry returned to France in November 1916 and was posted to 30th Infantry Brigade at Etaples. He then moved to the 2nd Battalion, and then the 14th Brigade Trench Mortar Battery on the 30th June 1917. In November 1917 he returned to 2nd Battalion. He had to undergo more medical treatment in early January 1918 and returned to the 2nd Battalion on the 24th January.
On the 14th March 1918 he was transferred to the 32nd Battalion Machine Gun Corps and given a new service number 14043. The Battalion was posted to the line at Humbercamps near Arras and Harry was subject to gas poisoning on the 8th April and once again hospitalised. He returned to Britain on the 29th April 1918 and was treated for conjunctivitis at Stobhill Military Hospital in Glasgow, and then moved to the convalescence camp at Summerdown in Eastbourne.
After transferring to the Depot on the 2nd October 1918, Harry was treated for influenza at the Military Hospital of the Machine Gun Corps in Belton Park, Grantham.
Harry was demobilised and transferred to the 5th Reserve Battalion of the 5th Machine Gun Corps on the 21st February 1919. He received a pension of 5 shillings and sixpence a week for 6 months due to the effects of gas poisoning.
After returning to his parents’ home he married Lillian Jessie Howard of Chorlton-on-Medlock at All Saints Glossop in March 1921. By 1930 the couple had moved to Altrincham where they managed a newsagents at 76 Manchester Road. They had at least one son, John Howard Heap. They lived with Lillian’s mother who had retired from the newsagent’s business.
Harry died in Stockport Infirmary on the 8th June 1950 aged 56. Lillian was then living at 321 Wellington Road, Heaton Chapel. She died on 6 February 1976 aged 80.
Harry’s medals were donated to the museum collections in 2020.