William Murphy had three sons, all of whom would join the army during the Great War. Martin was a pre-war member of the 1/5th Territorial Battalion and was mobilised when war was declared in August 1914. Harry and James joined Stockport's local 6th Territorial Battalion. The three brothers had all been members of Stockport Lads' Club. William had been a regular soldier, serving with the Manchester Regiment for 25 years, and rejoined his old unit when war broke out.
Harry's original service number, 2337, suggests he might also have been a pre-war Territorial or enlisted within days of war being declared. An account of the Battalion's early months of service is here.
At some point in his service, Harry won the Military Medal. It's not now known when he undertook his act of bravery but he received a letter from the General expressing his "appreciation of your gallantry and devotion to duty when you performed admirable work as a Battalion runner under the most difficult and dangerous conditions". In a time before personal radios, often the only practical way to get messages between a Battalion headquarters and the troops in the front line was by messenger. It was one of the most dangerous jobs in the Battalion.
James Murphy was also awarded the Military Medal for an act of bravery during June 1918. There is no record of the details.
On 28 August 1918, Harry and James were with the Battalion in front line trenches at Locre, 10 kilometres south west of the town centre of Ypres (now Ieper), in Belgium. The Battalion's War Diary only records "Situation very quiet. Weather very inclement". What probably happened during the day is that an enemy shell landed in the trench killing Lieutenant Pickersgill and wounding seven soldiers, including Harry and James.
James had been badly wounded in the chest but is thought to have survived. Harry had received severe wounds to his leg. He was evacuated over 30 kilometres to the 62nd Casualty Clearing Station operating at Arneke. Here, military surgeons had to amputate his foot. A letter to his family from a Sister at the hospital indicated that there had been little hope that he would survive.