Rank: Private
Number: 243021
Unit: 1/4th Battalion King’s Own (Royal Lancaster) Regiment
Date of Death: 20 September 1917
Age: 20
Cemetery: Tyne Cot Memorial, Zonnebeke, Belgium

Harry was the youngest son of John and Mary Pownall. In 1901, when a national census was taken, the family was living at 22 Herbert Street, Edgeley, Stockport. John was then 38 and worked as an insurance agent. Mary was a year younger. Also in the household were Jonathon (then 10), Nellie (7) and Edith (1).

The local newspaper, reporting his death, noted that before he enlisted he worked locally for H Faulder & Co. It also notes that he was previously wounded on 20 September 1916. It is possible that this is an error. Harry's medal entitlement records can be viewed on-line at the National Archives and these indicate he was only ever issued the above service number. Six-digit numbers were not issued until the beginning of 1917. It may, of course, be an error in the records of the National Archives.

At the beginning of September 1917, Harry's unit was in reserve at Bonningues in northern France. The Battalion War Diary notes that, on the 1st , the finals of the Inter-Company Football competition were played, with the Headquarters team beating "C" Company by 3 goals to nil. Subsequent days were spent in training for the forthcoming attack. This comparatively quiet time came to an end on the 14th, when the battalion moved to an area north of Ypres.

On the 19th, they moved forward, taking over a section of the front line. The Battle of Passchendaele had been going on since 31 July and progress had been slow and at great cost. The front line at this point was just a collection of shell holes. During the night, the Battalion took up its final assault position. At 5.40am, the whistles blew and the men clambered out of the holes and started to advance through deep mud. In spite of stubborn opposition, the leading troops reached their first objective. After a slight pause to re-group, they continued to advance, but sustained heavy casualties from enemy fire from one side. A battalion of the North Lancashire Regiment then came up to support them and leap-frogged the Lancasters to capture more ground. Both battalions then stopped at a captured German trench known as Schuler Galleries and prepared for a counter attack. Losses amongst both Battalions meant that the most senior officer was only a captain. Capt. Proctor assumed command and they held this line all day, in spite on an intense enemy bombardment and fire from both flanks..

The Battalion would continue to be in the firing line for another three days but, by this time Harry had already been killed along with 57 of his comrades, including Leonard Truran.

)NB: Original research into Battalion's activities by John Hartley for the Cheadle & Gatley war Memorials website)

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