Harold had been born in Macclesfield but his family had moved to the Stockport area by the time of the Great War and are believed to have been living at 32 Broadstone Road, Reddish. His parents were Thomas Henry Barnes and Elizabeth Barnes. They worshipped at St Elizabeth's Church and Harold had attended the Church's school.
A keen and talented boxer, he had taken part in his first fight on Easter Monday, 1912 and it was against his own cousin (later referred to as Private G Robbin). The Cheshire Daily Echo described it as "one of the hardest and most fierce fights ever witnessed between novices."
He worked for Messrs Nuttall Ltd., a firm of contractors in Manchester and, in November 1914, he enlistedd into the army. He joined the 21st Battalion - the sixth of the "Pals battalions" being formed by the Manchester Regiment and was assigned to No. 6 Platoon in "B" Company. Some details of the Pals recruitment and training can be found here. Harold kept up his boxing whilst undergoing army training and won a silver cup at middleweight whilst at Larkhill Camp. He went overseas with the Battalion in November 1915.
The Battalion had spent a few days in reserve in early March 1916 but, on the 15th, it moved forward to relieve the 22nd Battalion in the front line. The Cheshire Daily Echo, in its edition of 8 April, records what happened ".....he was proceeding through a communication trench where the parapet had been blown away and was therefore exposed to the view of a watchful sniper for a short time, but quite long enough for him to lay low a lad who was highly respected in Reddish and who was only 20 years of age."
A moment's inattention had cost Harold his life.