Harold HIGGINBOTHAM
Rank: Private
Number: 56463
Unit: C Company, 11th Battalion ROYAL WELSH FUSILIERS
Date of Death: 18 September 1918
Age: 33
Cemetery: Doiran Memorial, Greece

Very little is known about Harold's life. He was born in Stockport, the son of John and Maria and, in 1910, married Edith Garner at St George's Church. After the War, her address was 16 Park Lane but it is not known if this was the home she shared with Harold.

When he joined the army in town, he was assigned to the King's Shropshire Light Infantry (service number 32668). At some later point he was transferred to the Fusiliers. This may have been after being wounded or otherwise away from his battalion for a while through sickness. When he was fit enough to return, the Fusiliers may have been in greater need of replacements.

Harold's medal entitlement records at the National Archives do not indicate when he first went overseas. In itself, this usually means it was after the end of 1915. By then, the 11th Welsh Fusiliers were in northern Greece, in the Salonika theatre of the war, where it faced the Bulgarian army.

Harold would be killed in one of the final battles of the campaign - the fight to capture the key area of Doiran. Zero hour was set for 4.50am and the Battalion's War Diary records that all four companies advanced without much opposition from enemy shellfire. The leading troops of "B" Company were in the enemy front line trench by just after 5.15 and hand-to-hand fighting was underway. Enemy fire from the flanks was now brought to bear and the Company suffered many casualties but were able to hold their position. 45 minutes later, the Fusiliers linked up with Greek troops who had advanced nearby. "D" Company also suffered many casualties in its attack on the other flank.

The second wave of "A" and "C" Companies now moved up and carried forward the attack towards the next objective - an enemy stronghold known as The Hilt.  There was dust, smoke and lingering gas in the area and the men had to start wearing their gas masks, making it hot and unpleasant as they forced their way through the Bulgarian barbed wire. They encountered very strong opposition from The Hilt and there were many casualties and only a few men managed to even reach the objective. Very heavy fire from machine guns and trench mortars continued to reduce the number of attackers. An enemy counter-attack on the now weakforce meant there was no option but to withdraw. All the officers had become casualties - either dead or wounded.

20 officers and 480 other ranks had started the attack. At the end of the day, only 3 officers and 100 men were unwounded.

Writing in the magazine "I was there" in the 1930s, an unnamed officer described the day. "No feat of arms can ever surpass the glorious bravery of those Welshmen. There was lingering gas in the Jumeaux Ravine (probably ours!) and some of the men had to fight in respirators. Imagine, if you can, what it means to fight up a hillside under a deadly fire, wearing a hot mask over your face, dimly staring through a pair of clouded goggles, and sucking the end of a rubber nozzle in your mouth. At the same time heat is pouring down on you from a brazen sky. In this plight you are called on to endure the blast of machine-gun fire, the pointed steel or bursting shell of the enemy. Nor are you called on to endure alone; you must vigorously fire back, and vigorously assail with your own bayonet. It is as much like hell as anything you can think of."

Fighting close by were a number of other Stockport men serving with the Cheshire Regiment.

   
           
   
     
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