Harry was the only son of William and Hannah. He had two older sisters called Alice and Lizzie. The family home, at the time of the 1901 Census, was 27 Mill Lane, Reddish, but they had moved to 34 Longford Road, by the time of the Great War.
He worked at the cotton mill of the Reddish Spinning Co. on Houldsworth Street (and is included in the Company's entry in the Manchester City Battalions Book of Honour). In his spare time, Harry was a Lieutenant in the Boy's Brigade Company at Reddish Congregational Church.
He enlisted, at Manchester, in March 1915 and was assigned to the 12th Battalion. By the middle of July, a full complement of 30 officers and 975 other ranks had been trained and were ready to go overseas on active service. They left on the 15th, arriving at Boulogne the following day.
The Battle of the Somme had opened on 1 July and many Manchester battalions had their baptism of fire that day. The 12th Battalion was held in reserve during the first week but, on the 7th, they would also go into action.
There had been successes around the village of Mametz on 1 July and a German stronghold known as the Quadrilateral had been subsequently captured. The next objective was a trench known as Quadrilateral Support. This ran between Mametz Wood and the nearby village of Contalmaison.
There seems to have been a chaotic attempt to capture the position during the night of the 6/7th but this had failed. A renewed attempt by the 12th Battalion was ordered for 8am. In the 1920s, Major Thompson described the attack for the Battalion's History (recently republished by the Regimental Archives):
"The route to the assembly point was under constant shell fire and we lost some men but eventually the Battalion formed up in good order. At 8.00am our barrage ceased, "D" and "B" Companies moved forward, followed by "C" Company. "A" Company was held back until the others got well forward. The steadiness of the men was wonderful and they went over in as good a line as if on parade, although as soon as the advance started, they were subjected to very heavy shelling and machine gun fire. As our barrage had ceased, they had no shelter whatsoever and had a distance of 700 yards to cross. As soon as the first three Companies showed themselves on the ridge overlooking the trench, they were met by a withering fire and were mown down in great numbers. The same fate awaited "A" Company. In a few seconds, hardly any of us were on our feet. The casualties were very numerous."
200 men were dead, including Harry, Arthur Gaskell and Bernard King. He was posted as missing but nothing was ever heard of him again. In August 1917, the War Office made an official presumption that he must have died in the attack. His body was never recovered and identified.