Harry Swinton LANCASTER
Rank: Sergeant
Number: 201254
Unit: 6th (formerly F) Battalion TANK CORPS
Date of Death: 20 November 1917
Age: 23
Cemetery: Cambrai Memorial, Louveral, Nord, France

Born in Wilmslow, Harry is thought to have spent most of his life in Stockport, where he lived with his parents, Samuel and Mary, at 59 Duke Street. Nothing else is known for certain about his life although, in addition to his commemoration on the Stockport War Memorial, he is also remembered on the Memorial at St Mary's Church so was, presumably, a parishioner.

When he enlisted into the army he joined the local 6th (Territorial) Battalion o fthe Cheshire Regiment. His service number, 3405, indicates he was not an early volunteer and it may have been late 1915 before he joined up. He undertook his basic training with the Regiment but transferred to the newly formed Tank Corps before going on active service. "F" Battalion (later 6th Battalion) went overseas in May 1917.

Tanks had first gone into action in the middle of September 1916 but the Battle of Cambrai would see them come in to their own. This would be the first "all arms" attack, with artillery, tanks and planes combining to support the infantry assault.

The attack started at 6.20am with the tanks leading the way, battering down the German barbed wire. Tanks had a total of eight crew members, one of whom was an officer and another was a non-commissioned officer -usually a sergeant like Harry. He was aboard Tank F3 - known as "Frolic" (all the Battalion's tanks had a name starting with "F").  It was one of the Battalion's 36 tanks which started the day. The first objective was marked on the map as the "Blue Line", with a further objective of the "Brown Line".

The Battalion's War History, at the National Archives, contains detailed notes about the activities of all the tanks during the attack and, for "Frolic", records "Found good targets both before reaching the Blue Line and also on the Brown Line. When returning to the Brown Line a second time tank received a direct hit, killing the Sergeant, and one man was burnt, and wounding the Officer and a Gunner." Harry's body was never recovered and identified.

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