Rank: Private
Number: 21909
Unit: 118th Company MACHINE GUN CORPS
Date of Death: 15 October 1916
Age: 22
Cemetery: Etaples Military Cemetery, Pas de Calais, France

Harold lived all his life around the Cheadle area until he enlisted into the army in September 1914. He was the son of Richard and Amelia who, in 1901, lived at 95 School Street in Adswood (and later at 14 St Augustine's Road, Cheadle Heath).

Harold worked for Tom Cocker Ltd a manufacturer of hats and caps with premises on Brinksway. One of his workmates was Harry Gosling. They both joined the local territorial 6th Battalion of the Cheshire Regiment and Harold was given the service number of 2424. It cannot be said for certain when he went overseas but a large number of newly trained recruits with similar service numbers arrived in France around June 1916. Originally, they were intended to be replacements for casualties in the Battalion but there had been few by that time. Accordingly, the men were reallocated to other units and it is possible that Harold was transferred directly to the machine gunners without ever fighting with his original unit. The 6th Cheshires, along with the Machine Gun Company, were both part of the Army's 118th Brigade, so it is also possible that he had joined the 6th Battalion at an earlier date and was simply transferred.

On 6 October 1916, the Company moved from the front line and went into reserve billets near the village of Martinsart. Over the next couple of days, the men were able to rest and, probably, get a change of clothing. The Company's War Diary records "During the night of 9/10th, billets in Martinsart were shelled, 2 men killed, 14 wounded."  

Another local man, Harry Wilson, was one of the two killed. Harold was badly wounded in the blast and was evacuated to a nearby field hospital where his condition was stabilised. He was then sent to a military hospital on the Channel coast where he died five days later.

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