Harry LEAH
Rank: Private
Number: M2/225823
Unit: 283 Motor Transport Company ARMY SERVICE CORPS
Date of Death: 26 March 1918
Age: 24
Cemetery: Doullens Communal Cemetery Extension No. 1, Somme, France

The Census records the family living at 8 Adswood Lane, Stockport. Thomas Leah, then aged 46, worked as a joiner. His wife, Frances, was the same age. They had five children and Harry was the youngest, aged 7. His older siblings were James (21, a cotton spinner), Thomas (17, bricklayer), George (11) and Frances (9).

Nothing is known about Harry's later life.

On 21 March 1918, the German army launched a massive and overwhelming assault on British positions. Some time over the next five days, Harry was severely wounded and died whilst at an army field hospital.

His Company of the Army Service Corps transported ammunition for the heavy artillery of XVII Corps of the British Army. On the 21st, the Company was at Aizecourt-le-Haut (about 3 kilometres north east of the French town of Peronne). As soon as the scale of the enemy attack became clear, efforts were made to withdraw the artillery pieces and the Company assisted with this, in addition to its normal job of bringing up supplies of ammunition to the guns still firing. During the day, one soldier was killed, another 3 were posted as missing and 11 were wounded.

On the 22nd, the lorries were working continuously to bring up ammunition. Later in the day, orders were given for a withdrawal to Mont St Quentin. Another soldier was posted as "missing believed killed".

The next day saw more casualties - 3 killed, 2 missing and 6 wounded. There was a further withdrawal towards Hem and then to huts on the Mericourt-Suzanne Road. The Company's War Diary records that "Four lorries of 143 Siege Battery Ammunition Column were hit and about ten Other Ranks wounded. The wounded men were placed in a lorry which was sent off to the nearest Medical Officer they could find. It was not until Corbie was reached that the wounded men could get attended to, owing to all the Field Ambulances and Clearing Stations being either full or packed up ready to retire. Two of the wounded men had by that time died." Even though a full-scale retreat was underway, the Company's lorries were still in continuous service moving ammunition forward to the artillery which was covering the withdrawal.

The 24th and 25th were quiet days and other than continue to move shells there was nothing to report in the Diary. On the 26th, the Company was at Querrieu - some 47 kilometres on today's roads from where they had been on the 21st. The Diary records another 17 men wounded.

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