Harold GRANTHAM
Rank: Private
Number: 55350
Unit: 14th Battalion ROYAL WELSH FUSILIERS
Date of Death: 24 April 1918
Age: 32
Cemetery: Bagneux British Cemetery, Gezaincourt, Somme, France

In 1862, John Grantham and Esther Jones married at St Mark's Church, Bredbury. They are known to have had at least three children - Edith, William and Harold. John is thought to have died in the 1880s and Esther remarried, to William Crozier, in at 1892. The service was at St Batholomew's Church, Wilmslow. The Grantham's had been living in Wilmslow for some considerable time and Harold was born there in 1880 (a child of the same name was born in Wilmslow in 1879 but died the following year).

By 1901, when a national census was taken, William Crozier had died. Esther and her three children had moved to Stockport and were living at 116 King Street West. 15 year old Harold was working as a telegraph messenger. In 1909, he married Miriam Renshaw at Edgeley Methiodist Church. After the War, her address was known to be 34 Chatham Street, but it is not known if this was the home she and Harold shared.

On 9 April 1918, the German army launched the second phase of its spring offensive in what would later be called the Battle of the Lys. As the month before, it was delivered with overwhelming force and, within a short period, British troops were retreating from many miles of front line. As the month was drawing to a close, the attacks were running out of steam and the British, though much depleted, were able to start to advance once again.

Harold was not killed outright but died of his wounds at one of the several field hospitals set up some miles behind the front line at Gezaincourt. As such it is impossible to absolutely sure when he was wounded but it was, almost certainly, during a failed attack on 22 April.

"C" and "D" Companies led the Fusiliers attack, supported by "B", whilst "A" remained in reserve. Zero hour was set for 7.30am. It was bad omen when the British artillery barrage, intended to cover the men crossing No Man's Land, was described in the Battalion's War Diary as "somewhat ragged". The German machine gunners opened a heavy and accurate fire on the Fusiliers accounting for many casualties. Neither of the leading Companies got more than 150 yards from the British trench. Those who could do so, got back to the trench or took cover in the shell holes in No Man's land and waited for dark to crawl back. Five were known to be dead but another 14 were missing. A further 95 had been wounded and Harold was probably one of them.

The Battalion remained in the front line throughout the 23rd when, in the evening, they moved back to the support line of trenches. At 4am, on the 24th, there was an enemy counter-attack. The Fusiliers "stood to" but were not called on to go into action. They would, however, have probably been subjected to shellfire during these two days and it is also possible that Harold was wounded then.

   
           
   
     
© 2006. Design and Layout are the property of Ihelm Enterprises Limited and cannot be reproduced without express permission.
 
Enter Search Phrase Here:(search may take up to 30 seconds) 
 
Close Search Window