Edward Marshall and Betty Rowson had married in 1892 in a civil ceremony registered at Chorlton on Medlock. Edward was a butcher with premises at 19 Church Street, Eccles and it was there where his only child, Harold, was born. Nothing is known of Harold's early life and it is not known when the Marshalls came to live at 22 Acre Lane, Cheadle Hulme. The only reference to them being there is this is the address collated by the War Graves Commission in the early 1920s and Harold is not commemorated on the local War Memorial.
He is, however, commemorated on the main Stockport Memorial at the Art Gallery. Harold is probably the H E Marshall recorded on the Memorial at North Reddish Primary School although the name is amongst those who served and returned rather than those who died.
When he enlisted into the army at Manchester, Harold was assigned to the Army Service Corps but was transferred to the newly formed Tank Corps before going overseas on active service. The Battle of Cambrai would open on 20 November 1917 and would see the first ever massed attack by tanks. Nearly 500 machines were assembled - the whole strength of the Corps. They were instrumental in punching holes through the German defensive trench system and, by the end of the first day, advances of 3 miles and more had been made. The cost had been heavy with many tanks disabled.
The next day, a further attack, led by the Tank Corps, captured Fontaine-Notre-Dame. By late afternoon, the positions seemed secure and the tanks withdrew leaving the defences to the infantry. The next day, the Germans si=successfully counterattacked, driving the British out.
The History of the Tank Corps records "We were determined to possess it and on the 23rd attacked again in force. The enemy was prepared and a desperate battle ensued among the houses. Twenty four tanks from "B" and "H" Battalions had entered the village first whereupon the enemy retired to the tops of the houses and rained down bombs and bullets upon the roofs of the machines. The Germans were in force and, in the narrow streets, it was difficult for the tanks to bring an effective fire to bear upon them. The infantry was too weary to clear the place and after patrolling the streets, the tanks withdrew, as soon as darkness covered their retreat."
Unsurprisingly, the History underplays the true events and there is no doubt that German infantry had soundly beaten British tanks.