Ernest HARROP
Rank: Private
Number: 282361
Unit: 2/7th Battalion LANCASHIRE FUSILIERS
Date of Death: 23 March 1918
Age: 20
Cemetery: Roye New British Cemetery, Somme, France

Ernest was the younger of two brothers commemorated on the Cheadle memorial. His older brother, Edward, had died of wounds only in the January. The family home was at 6 Church Street, Cheadle.  His father, Edward had died and, after the war, his widow, Alice married a Mr Lidgett and moved away from Cheadle to live at 14 Royal George Street, Stockport. Ernest attended St Cuthbert's Church and had been a member of Cheadle Boys Brigade in his younger days.

He had joined the army in, approximately, September 1916, at Stockport and will have gone overseas with the 2/7th Battalion when it went on active service in March 1917

On 20 March 1918, Ernest's Battalion was in the support trenches a few hundred yards behind the front line, north east of the village of Hargicourt (some 16 kilometres north west of St Quentin). They were expecting an attack and were dug in near quarries close to Templeux-le-Guerard. During the night, the Germans started a very heavy artillery bombardment of miles of the front line. They attacked at 8am, quickly overwhelming the 2/8th Lancashire Fusiliers who bore the brunt of the attack in this sector.

By 9am, they had reached Ernest's position and desperate fighting was taking place. By midday, the Battalion was nearly surrounded. A small party under Captain Smirke managed to break through and made its way south west of Templeux where they joined up with them remnants of the 2/6th and 2.8th Battalions.  Meanwhile, the remainder of the Battalion was trapped in the quarries and was suffering losses from shelling and the many hours of close fighting. An order for them to try again to withdraw did not reach them. By 5pm, exhausted and out of ammunition, they were compelled to surrender.

The night passed quietly along all this sector of the battlefield. But, at 4am on 22nd March, the German artillery started to shell the new front line.  Around dawn, masses of German infantry were seen and the regrouped Fusiliers were forced to make a series of withdrawals. Later in the day, they had fallen back towards Roisel when they were ordered to make another stand. This time, they were reinforced by a detachment of troops from the Machine Gun Corps. They checked the German advance for a little while, until both flanks were exposed and another withdrawal became necessary.

Over the two previous days, the Battalion had suffered casualties - killed, wounded, missing or captured - of 14 officers and 450 other ranks.

Ernest was seriously wounded sometime during these two days and has been evacuated to 53rd Casualty Clearing Station at Roye. Presumably, nothing could be done to save him.

(Original research for the Cheadle & Gatley War Memorials website)

   
           
   
     
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