Harold HIGGINS
Rank: Lance Corporal
Number: 21525
Unit: 4th Battalion GRENADIER GUARDS
Date of Death: 25 September 1916
Age: 24
Cemetery: Thiepval Memorial, Somme, France

Harold was the eldest son of Mr & Mrs James Higgins, Vale Road,  Heaton Mersey. He had two brothers, both of whom would serve during the War. Leonard Higggins served with the Manchester Regiment and was wounded around the same time as Harold was killed. In October 1916, he was recovering in a Blackpool hospital. The other brother served with the South Lancashires and is also believed to have survived.

After leaving school, Harold had applied to join the police but had been unsuccessful. Instead he went to work for the local Heaton Mersey firm of Melland & Coward. In his spare time he was a member of the Heaton Mersey Brotherhood. He was also a keen footballer and had played for the Heaton Mersey Lads' Club in the Stockport League.

Harold enlisted into the army in Manchester in January and went overseas in August. He was soon in action, taking part in the Battle of Loos in late September. On 19 April 1916, the Grenadiers were in trenches near Vlamertinghe, near Ypres. The enemy attacked the Scots Guards who were the next unit along the front line trench system. News arrived at the Grenadiers Headquarters that about 600 yards of trench had been captured. The Commanding Officer immediately sent troops up the trench system to assist and Harold was one of them. These men proved crucial in ejecting the Germans and regaining control of the sector. For his bravery, Harold was awarded the Military Medal.

In the middle of September 1916, Harold was again involved in a major assault as part of the on-going Battle of the Somme, when the Grenadiers attacked towards the village of Lesboeufs on the 15th. A further attack, to capture the village, was planned for the 25th. They moved into position during the night of the 24/25th. Zero hour was set for 12.35pm and the Regimental History recounts "As zero hour approached, the men fixed bayonets and remained motionless waiting for the whistle which was the signal to advance."  Following a covering artillery barrage, they went "over the top" across No Man's Land. As the crossed the German front line they came under "terrific machine gun and rifle fire and terrible gaps were made in the ranks". They pressed on to their objectives in the German second and third lines of trenches and over 150 of the enemy were bayoneted. After re-grouping, they moved forward again, at 1.35pm, securing their final objective after stiff opposition.

They held this position until they were relieved at 10pm on the 26th. Since the 18th, the Battalion had suffered 458 casualities - dead, wounded or missing - more than half their number. As well as Harold , James Rowley and Joseph Burrell were amongst the dead. None of their bodies were ever recovered and identified and the names of all three are now inscribed on the Thiepval Memorial to the Missing.

   
           
   
     
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