Rank: Private
Number: 8556
Unit: 2nd Battalion CHESHIRE REGIMENT
Date of Death: 17 February 1915
Age: 25
Cemetery: Menin Gate Memorial, Ieper, Belgium

Harold was a professional soldier who had been serving with the 2nd Cheshires in India for 7 years.

His parents, James and Harriet (nee Wright), had married at St Thomas Church, Hazel Grove on 23 September 1878. Harold was born in 1889 and had an older brother, James, and younger siblings, Alice and Herbert.  He joined the army as soon as he was old enough, at the age of 17.

The Cheshires arrived back in Britain on Christmas Eve 1914 and Harold travelled to Stockport for four days leave with his family. He then returned to camp and the Battalion left again on 16th January, sailing from Southampton to Le Havre.

A few weeks later, on 17 February, the Battalion was in support positions at Chateau Rosenthal, near the village of Zillebeke just to the south of the Belgium town of Ypres (now Ieper). At 9pm, three companies relieved the 1st Battalion, Welsh Regiment in the front line on the north side of the Ypres-Comines Canal. No. 4 Company went into a trench on the south side. At some point, probably during the movement forward in the darkness, something happened to Harold. It is not known what and the Battalion’s War Diary makes no mention of casualties, but he was later posted as missing. Perhaps he was killed by shellfire. Perhaps he fell into a water-filled shell hole and drowned. It will never be known as his body was never found and identified. Mr and Mrs Hackney, then living at 332 Hempshaw Lane, Stockport, had to wait until May 1917 before the War Office formally confirmed that he was presumed to have died that day.

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