Henry HOLBROOK
Rank: Private
Number: 20570
Unit: 22nd Battalion MANCHESTER REGIMENT
Date of Death: 15 July 1916
Age: 26 (approx)
Cemetery: Thiepval Memorial, Somme, France

Henry's father, Bernard Holbrook, is believed to have been landlord of the Printers' Arms in Cheadle at the time of the War but may have only been there for a short time as, in 1910, Henry's address was recorded as 38 Thomas Street East, Stockport. On 4 September of that year, aged 20, he married Elizabeth Taylor at St Thomas' Church. He may have met her through her brother, James, who acted as Henry's best man at the wedding.

Henry was then working as a confectioner but changed jobs before the War and was working for Stockport Tramways when he enlisted. He and Elizabeth would have one child together and they are thought to have lived at 327 Hempshaw Lane (after the War, Elizabeth's address was 6 Brookfield View, Adenoft Street).

In the autumn of 1914, probably in early November, Henry travelled into Manchester and enlisted into the seventh of the "Pals Battalions" being formed by the Manchester Regiment. He was assigned to No. 9 Platoon, in "C" Company and some details of the recruitment and training of the Pals can be found here. In November 1915, they were ready for active service overseas and left for France.

His first experience of a major attack was on 1 July 1916 when he advanced towards Mametz on the first day of the Battle of the Somme - the "Big Push". Two weeks later he was back in action.

On the 14th, the Battalion moved back to Mametz and took up reserve positions in the nearby Wood ready for an attack the next day on German positions at High Wood. The attack would be led by the 1st South Staffordshires and the 2nd Queens.

Almost immediately, "C" Company was ordered forward to support the Staffordshires and, together, they made the first of a number of attacks to dislodge the Germans from their trenches. They managed to establish a foothold on the edge of the Wood but couldn't make further progress. About 11am, "B" and "D" Companies were also sent forward. All the troops were now coming under heavy machine gun fire from the flanks as the Germans in Switch Trench were still strongly in position.

At 2.30pm, the Germans opened a heavy barrage and then counter attacked with infantry, driving back the British troops. The three Companies of Manchesters now brought their strength and numbers to bear and recovered the lost ground. Late in the afternoon, the British made another attempt to push further into High Wood but this also failed. At 6pm, "A" Company came forward to support their comrades but it was clear that the attack had failed. The whole British line was withdrawn back to its original starting point at 11.25pm. Amongst the dead were Henry and another local man, George Hall.

   
           
   
     
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