Harold Percy KING
Rank: Private
Number: 32818
Unit: 1st Battalion King’s Own (Royal Lancaster) Regiment
Date of Death: 13 February 1917
Age: 24
Cemetery: Bray Military Cemetery, Bray-sur-Somme, Somme, France

Alfred Percy King got married in the spring of 1892. His bride was Elizabeth Warren and they married at St Clement's Church, Greenheys, Manchester. In the following February, Harold was born and this was registered at Stretford. The family were still in the Stretford area in 1903, when Alfred died, aged 39.

It is not known when Mrs King and Harold moved to Hazel Grove, but they were living there when Harold volunteered for the army. His service number is not particularly early and it was probably well into 1915 when he joined up.

During early February, the men of the King's Own had a fairly quite time, undertaking tours of duty in the front line trenches interspersed with periods in reserve. These tours were not without danger and, on 3 February, their trench was raided by a small party of Germans intent on collecting intelligence. They were quickly thrown out again leaving behind one man a prisoner and six dead.

On 9 February, they started another tour of duty in the front line at Bouchavesnes, about 18 kilometres east of the French town of Albert.

The Battalion's War Diary records that on 13 February, they were relieved from the front line and moved back a little way to occupy positions in close support. The enemy could often deduce the times of reliefs and it became a favourite time for the opposing artillery to shell each other's front lines. This day was no exception and the Diary records that five men were killed. It is also probable that this is when Harold received his fatal wounds. He would have received attention from the Battalion's own medical officer, just behind the front line. This would have been little more than first aid and he would then have started to be moved down the evacuation chain. Harold would have received more treatment at the main Dressing Station and he would then have been moved to Bray, where a number of Casualty Clearing Stations (mobile battlefield surgical hospitals) were based. On today's roads, this is a journey of 22 kilometres, taking less than 30 minutes. But, in 1917, with roads scarred by battle, it probably took several hours. At the CCS, military surgeons would have done all they could to save his life, but without success.

When the War Graves Commission collated its casualty information, in the early 1920s, Elizabeth King had moved and was, once again, living in the Moss Side area of Manchester.

Further information about Harold is contained in the book, "Hazel Grove to Armageddon" by John Eaton.

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