Harold JONES
Rank: Corporal
Number: 19188
Date of Death: 25 March 1916
Age: 22
Cemetery: St Patrick’s Cemetery, Loos, Pas de Calais, France

He was the son of Mrs Mary Jones, 167 Stockport Road, Cheadle and had been previously employed at Wm Mosley Ltd, one of several local bleachworks. When the Census was taken in 1901, the family was living in four rooms at 174 Stockport  Road. Mary was working as a laundress. There is no mention of her husband and he was probably working away. There were eight children - ranging from 16 to 6 months.

He had enlisted in January 1915, at Stockport and undertaken 10 weeks training before going overseas. He had had no home leave since enlistment. It's not certain exactly when Harold went on active service but he was almost certainly at the Battle of Loos which started on 25 September 1915. The Battalion was not one of those involved in the major attack of the first day, but just after midnight on 26 September, the enemy attacked its position in some strength. This attack was repulsed after severe fighting with very heavy loss to the attackers. Fighting would continue into the middle of October, but the battle was a failure.

After Loos, the battalion spent long periods in reserve, well away from the firing line. But on 19 February, it returned to the front line south east of Loos. The area was characterized by craters and slag heaps created by pre-war mining. Two of these, known as Hart's and Harrison's Craters, were between the opposing front lines but in German hands. They were providing excellent cover for the enemy snipers. Within two hours of their return to the front, the Borderers were ordered to attack the craters. The enemy had skilfully placed machine guns so that the approaches to the craters were covered by cross fire. These successfully repulsed the attack on Hart's Crater, but Harrison Crater was captured after hard fighting.

Several days later, a further successful attack was made on Hart's Crater by men of the Gloucestershire Regiment. They had just handed over to the Borderers when a sudden German attack regained it. The Regiment's Official History recalls that "Captain Loch proved equal to the occasion and, counter-attacking before the Germans had time to consolidate, thrust them out again. Colonel Collier, who hurried to the crater on hearing of its loss, found Captain Loch building up head-cover with sandbags which the enemy was shooting away as fast as he placed them in position. Though wounded in several places, he stuck to his task and had the satisfaction of completing it, despite the enemy's efforts, thereby definitely securing the crater for the British." The Stockport Advertiser reported that Harold had distinguished himself, as a machine gunner, in helping his captain to recapture the crater. He was promoted to Corporal shortly afterwards. Captain Loch was recommended for the award of a Victoria Cross, but it was not given, Instead he received the DSO. He would be killed on 2 July 1916

After this, the Battalion settled down to the routine of trench warfare, spending a couple of days in the firing line, alternating with a couple of days in reserve. The War Diary for 23 March 1916 describes a cold day, with heavy clouds and rain occasionally. One Private was wounded in the head by a shell splinter. It concluded that "carrying and working parties have been provided for the front line for the last three nights."

The next day - "A very cold day, about 2" of snow fell during the night and it continued all morning. The trenches are now rather bad again.......One private wounded by shell splinter." At 7pm, the Battalion moved forward to take up positions in the front line. This was completed by 9am on 25 March.

The War Diary continues for that day "A bright spring like morning. Enemy fired a large number of rifle grenades towards our trenches. Our companies retaliated and silenced the Bosches. Casualties today were two Other Ranks killed and one wounded, all by shell splinters. The Chaplain (Baptist) attended the burial of the men killed. They were interred in Loos Cemetery at 10pm."

In fact, the other man killed, Private Alfred Lewis, is not buried with Harold. Alfred was probably severely wounded and taken to an Advanced Dressing Station where he died. He is buried in the adjacent St Mary's ADS Cemetery, some miles away from Harold's resting place.

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

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