Henry (Harry) LEIGH
Rank: Lance Corporal
Number: 10879
Unit: 11th Battalion EAST LANCASHIRE Regiment
Date of Death: 5 September 1918
Age: 26
Cemetery: Pont-d’Achelles Military Cemetery, Nieppe, Nord, France

Henry was always known as Harry, to distinguish him from his father, after whom he was named. In 1901, when a national census was taken, the family was living at 62 York Street. Henry Leigh, then aged 50, was married to Annie Louise, a woman much younger than him. He was an iron turner by trade. They had two children - Elizabeth, 12, and Henry, then 9.

Nothing else of Harry's personal life is known except that it can be deduced from his comparatively low service number that he enlisted into the army in the early months of the War. On 8 August 1918, Allied troops launched a decisive and successful attack on the German army. It would prove to be the start of what has become known as the "100 Days" which ended the fighting. There would be no more defeats for the Allies and, although German resistance was strong until the end, it was a time of attack; advance and attack again.

On 4 September, Harry and the rest of the Battalion went into the front line near Nieppe, in northern France. It was anticipated that the Germans would undertake a further withdrawal during the night, so at 4.30am, patrols of East Lancashires crept out into No Man's Land to see if they could establish what was happening. They all came back with the same reports of having encountered strong resistance from machine guns. Even so, an advance was ordered for 5pm. Following an artillery barrage, "Z" Company, on the left, gained some ground, but "X" on the right was held up by thick barbed wire onto which was trained well-sited enemy machine gun positions. The attack was pressed on and some 20 prisoners and two machine guns were captured.

It was a costly day, as 23 men, including Harry, had been killed. The Cemetery where he is buried had been started in 1917 and was used by British units until Nieppe was taken by the Germans in the spring of 1918. They continued to use it until the village was re-taken two days before Harry was killed. It now contains 293 Commonwealth soldiers and 37 Germans.

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