Harry KELCHER
Rank: Private
Number: 18029
Unit: 1st Battalion GRENADIER GUARDS
Date of Death: 17 October 1915
Age: 20
Cemetery: Loos Memorial, Pas de Calais, France

Harry had been born at Elworth, Cheshire, the son of Frederick and Ellen Kelcher. Later the family moved to 2 Station Cottages, Cheadle Hulme. He had been employed by a farmer - Mr Burrows of 51 Station Road in the village and had been a member of the Wesleyan Sunday School.

He had enlisted in September 1914 at Ashton-under-Lyne and went on active service on 1 May 1915. He will have taken part in the ill-fated Battle of Loos, which commenced on 25 September and was known, at the time, as "The Big Push". After 4 days bombardment of the enemy positions, six Divisions (some 60,000 troops) would attack the German trenches. The Grenadiers would be amongst the units held in reserve and it was not until the night of 25/26 September that they are moved forward. By the morning of the 26th, they were in the original front line British trenches. By the afternoon, it is clear that the attack has failed and men are falling back to the positions occupied by the Grenadiers. During the evening, The Guards are moved forward to relieve attacking battalions.

On 27 September, the Guards are caught by heavy artillery fire whilst on the move to new positions, suffering many casualties. Fighting continued for several days, with the Germans recapturing lost positions and a major British counter attack on 13 October. The Hohenzollern Redoubt and the adjacent "Big Willie" Trench had originally been in German hands, been captured by the British on the first day and subsequently lost. On 14 October, the Battalion was ordered back to the front line near these strongholds. Three days later, orders were receive to conduct a raid on a German communication trench, known as "Slag Alley".

The attack was carried out by 3 Company, early in the morning, and they immediately ran into two German machine guns. The Guards Official History records that a large number of men were killed, including the officer commanding. The remaining officers were all wounded. Colonel Trotter, commanding the Battalion, sent Lieutenant Lord Lascelles forward to take command of the company. Lascelles realised that the men could not stay put as they were being slowly picked off. He brought them back to the trenches where they were subjected to a heavy German bombardment for several hours. Roughly half of No.3 Company had been killed or wounded and Harry was one of the 33 killed.

A letter to his parents from a Sergeant Frost confirmed that Harry had been killed during the attack and that "as a bomb thrower" had been one of the leading men in the charge.

   
           
   
     
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