Harry HADFIELD
Rank: Private
Number: 6029
Unit: 1st Battalion King’s Own (Royal Lancaster) Regiment
Date of Death: 13 October 1914
Age:
Cemetery: Ploegsteert Memorial, Hainaut, Belgium

Harry was a professional soldier who had enlisted into the army on 24 August 1899, aged 19. His service papers still exist at the National Archives and they show him to have been just over 5’ 4” tall. He had a fresh complexion with hazel eyes and brown hair. Harry had given his religious denomination as Church of England. He had been working as a hatter. In 1914, his mother, Ellen, was living at 22 Back Water Street, Stockport.

Harry served in South Africa during the Boer War in 1900 and in India between 1903 and 1907. Whilst stationed in Calcutta he was treated for venereal disease which his service papers indicate he contracted on 8 December 1904 at Kalinga Bazaar.

When War was declared, the men were stationed at Dover and were amongst the first to go overseas, arriving in Boulogne on 23 August 1914. He will have taken part in all the early battles of the War.

The fighting had not yet bogged down into the attrition of trench warfare for which the conflict became known and the ebb and flow of battle was a continual struggle to gain ground. On 13 October, the British 4th Division (which included Harry’s Battalion) advanced towards German positions at Meteren. The village is some 17 kilometres south west of the Belgian town of Ypres (now Ieper). Harry and his comrades reached the village outskirts at about 2pm to find it was heavily defended. They immediately came under heavy machine gun and rifle fire. The Battalion’s war Diary notes that the “enemy had excellent field of fire. About 4pm we were shelled at close range by guns just to south of village.” After dark, the King’s Own started to entrench for the night and at about 9pm, other units moved into the village to find the Germans had withdrawn. 46 men had been killed in the day’s fighting and another 15 were missing. Harry’s body was never recovered and identified.

   
           
   
     
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