William Henry (Harry) MADDOCKS
Rank: Acting Corporal
Number: 301015
Unit: 1/8th Battalion MANCHESTER REGIMENT
Date of Death: 4 May 1917
Age: 25
Cemetery: Thiepval Memorial, Somme, France

The records of the Commonwealth War Graves Commission show his name as William Henry Maddocks. However, the 1901 Census records him simply as Harry and it is by that name that he appears to have been generally known. He and his older brother, John, had been born in Hanley in Staffordshire. The family moved to the Stockport area in the late 1890s where their father, Charles, worked as a carter delivering beer to pubs for one of the local breweries. The Census shows them living at 11 Watt Street and, by then, there were two new additions - Charles (then aged 4) and Ethel (1).

By the time of the Great War, they had moved to 3 Kendal Street, South Reddish. At some point, Harry enlisted into the army at Manchester. His service number indicates this was after the beginning of 1917 and, as such, he will have been a conscript. Even allowing for him enlisting right at the beginning of the year, the time taken for training means he cannot have been at the front for very long at all before he was killed.

On the night of 1/2 May 1917, Harry and his mates started another tour of duty in the front line relieving the 1/6th Manchesters in positions near Vendhuile. This was a newly captured area and there was no properly developed trench system. "A" Company held an outpost line of six posts supported by five Lewis guns (light machine guns). Behind them "B" Company held a piquet line comprising a series of unconnected trenches. "C" formed a support line just to the rear and, even further behind in reserve, was "D".

The Battalion's War Diary records that "Circumstances prevented ration parties communicating by day; day's rations had been cooked beforehand and carried on the men." It would be cold bully beef stew again for the men's dinner and breakfast. They were in place by 12.30 on the 2nd. Work started soon after constructing latrines together with lengthening and strengthening the trenches. Patrols were sent out and they reported back that there was an enemy sniper in the area and, also, that the enemy was in the nearby Ossus Wood.

The next day brought a similar pattern of work and patrols with little to report. On the 4th the Diary records "During night work continued as usual. No work is possible during the day. Quiet day. Little enemy artillery activity". On this quiet day, Harry and three of his comrades were killed, no doubt from the "little artillery activity".

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