George Harold PIKE
Rank: Private
Number: 25925
Unit: 13th Battalion EAST YORKSHIRE REGIMENT
Date of Death: 13 November 1916
Age: 39
Cemetery: Thiepval Memorial, Somme, France

Harold was the son of a Baptist Minister and, no doubt due to his father's ministry, appears to have regularly moved around the country. He had been born in Birmingham but by the time of the 1901 Census, he was living in Hackney, London. The family comprised the Rev. Edward Pike (then aged 61), his wife Agnes (58) and their children - Sarah (32), Basil (30), Robert (28), Ada (26), Harold (24) and John (22). The Census records that Harold worked as a commercial traveller for a varnish manufacturer. The Census also recorded that there was a visitor to the household. This was 21 year old Annie McLeod. Whether she was then Harold's fiancée is not known, but they were certainly married the following year, in a civil ceremony at Stockport, between June and August.

Perhaps after they married Harold and Annie settled in Harrogate, for that is where he eventually enlisted into the army. Most battalions on the East Yorkshires had nicknames. The 11th was known as the "Hull Tradesmens"; the 12th as the "Hull Sportsmens". The 13th was known simply as "T'Others".

The Battle of the Somme had started on 1 July 1916, but the 13th East Yorkshires had been fortunate in that they had not been called on to take part in the major attacks on that day or any of the subsequent attacks. This was all to change as the battle moved slowly toward it's end in the late autumn. The men had trained for the forthcoming attack for nine days and, on the night of the 12 October, they moved into assembly positions for an attack on the village of Serre. The village had been an objective for the first day, back at the beginning of July, but was still in German hands. This final assault would later be given the official designation of the Battle of the Ancre (after the river which runs through the battlefield).

The task given to the 12th and 13th East Yorkshires was to attack and then form a defensive flank to protect the other attacking troops in the sector. The artillery bombarded the enemy trenches from 5am until zero hour at 5.45. The Regimental History records "The enemy's trenches during the preliminary bombardment were, in places, battered and pounded almost out of existence and the ground was in an appalling condition. The rain had turned No Man's Land into a veritable quagmire which not even the dry cold weather could make passable. Progress was therefore bound to be slow."

"The wire in front of the Battalion presented few difficulties having been well cut. The bombardment had so effectively wrecked the hostile trenches that many men of the first wave passed over the German front line having failed to distinguish it. The first wave of the 13th Battalion experienced little difficulty in taking the German front line although there was a certain amount of bomb-throwing, machine gun and rifle fire. Numbers of Germans surrendered and others were discovered in dug-outs where they were captured or killed if they refused to come out."

The Battalion's second and third waves now moved up and continued the advance to the German third line of trenches. Unfortunately, neighbouring units had not advanced as well and the third wave became isolated and was attacked from the rear. At least 50 men were cut-off and taken prisoner.

The Battalion held the captured second line trench line all day until, at 7pm, it was ordered to pull back to the original German front line and, later that night, it withdrew back to the British front line. They had captured over 200 prisoners but some escaped. The Battalion had suffered about 400 casualties - killed, wounded, prisoner or missing. Harold's body was never recovered and identified and his name is now inscribed on the nearby Memorial to the Missing.

After the War, Annie  was living at Hope Cottage, Bramhall.

   
           
   
     
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