Fred Renshaw and Jane McAllister had married in 1888 at St John the Baptist Church in the Hulme area of Manchester. Herbert was their first child and was born in Harpurhey. Another five children had been born when the Census was taken in 1901. At that time the family was living at 21 Charles Street, Miles Platting and it is not known when they moved to live at 16 Springfield Avenue, Reddish. Fred worked in the printing industry as a stereotyper and, in due course, Herbert followed him into the industry. He worked all adult life for Taylor, Garnett and Evans Ltd, Greg Street, Reddish. The Company printed the Manchester Guardian.
The family worshipped at St Elizabeth's Church and, as a boy, Herbert had been an active member of the Boys Brigade. On 15 June 1916, he left his job, friends and family and joined the army. His training will have lasted a few weeks and, sometime in the autumn, he will have gone overseas on active service, joining the Battalion in Mesopotamia (modern day Iraq).
Conditions there for the men were appalling. Extremes of temperature, vermin, etc all contributed to very high levels of sickness and disease which remained a concern for the high command throughout the campaign. In one account, a newspaper reporter, Edmund Candler, wrote "The flies were unbelievable. You could not eat without swallowing flies. You waved your spoon in the air to shake them off: you put your biscuits and bully beef in your pocket and surreptitiously conveyed them in closed fist to your mouth, but you swallowed flies all the same...."
On 13 January 1917, during an attack on Turkish positions at Dahra Bend, Herbert was wounded and evacuated to hospital, in India. His wounds were not serious and he was soon back at duty. However, on 29 March, he developed a fever and was taken to an army hospital at Amara. This time he was away form the Battalion for some time and had not been back long when he suffered from heat stroke and died 3 days later. His Company Commander, Captain H Allan Davies, wrote to the family saying Herbert had been very popular with his comrades. He was originally buried at Sindiyeh, where he died (some sixty miles from Bagdhad). After the War many of these small burial areas were closed and Herbert's body was reinterred at Baghdad.