Lewis Frederick SHARP
Rank: 2nd Lieutenant
Unit: 10th Battalion King’s Own Yorkshire Light Infantry
Date of Death: 1 July 1916
Age: 41
Cemetery: Thiepval Memorial, Somme, France

Lewis was born in Bermondsey, London on 12 March 1879, the son of Edward and June. It's not known when the family settled in the Stockport area but they were living at 176 Shaw Heath when the 1901 Census was taken. 63 year old Edward was the manager of factory manufacturing helmets and hats and four of his five children were also employed in the same trade. Lewis, then 28, and his 21 year old brother, John, worked as helmet makers whilst their two sisters, Jane and Ada were helmet trimmers. The youngest child, William, had chosen a different career as an electrical engineer.

Reporting Lewis' death, the local newspaper said that his employer was Field, Son & Co who made hats and helmets at premises at 19 Oliver Street. Other information suggests that his father had opened his own business and was trading as E J Sharp & Sons, 37 Junction Road, Shaw Heath. This must have been a recent enterprise as it is not listed in the 1914 edition of Kelly's Directory. Lewis had always been a sportsman and still played cricket and football.

Lewis enlisted into the army on 4 September 1914, joining the 2/6th Battalion, Manchester Regiment with the service number 2529. His enlistment papers show him to have been 5' 6" tall and weighed 127 lbs. He was subsequently promoted to Lance Corporal and, in March 1915, he applied for a commission. In June, he was taken ill with rheumatism in his right foot, left knee, hip and back and was sent on sick leave for a month. On returning to duty, he was under canvas at Strenshall when he got wet and this caused the problem to flare up again. This time he was not fit enough to return until 23 November 1915. His service file also records he had a history of gonorrhoea dating back to 1901.

Lewis was again ill in April 1916 whilst attached to the 11th Battalion of the Light Infantry and only went overseas to join the 10th as a 2nd Lieutenant on 19 June. He was to be killed on 1 July, the first day of the Battle of the Somme.

As part of 63rd Brigade, 21st Division, the Battalion "went over the top" at 7.30am, into No Man's Land attacking German held positions in the village of Fricourt. As they did so, they came under heavy machine gun fire from the village and, also, by fire from the south at La Boiselle. Pushing on with the attack, men from the supporting battalions (15th Durham Light Infantry and 1st East Yorkshires) now joined them. By 8am, they had captured the position known as Crucifix Trench. The men halted here to reorganise and had to fight off a German counter-attack. At 2.30, they attempted a further advance towards Shelter Wood but this failed and orders were given to dig in and consolidate.

Lewis was one of 9 officers to be killed. Another 16 had been wounded. Amongst the men, 50 were known to be dead but another 135 were missing. A further 292 had been wounded. Lewis's body was never recovered and identified. His name is inscribed on the nearby Memorial to the Missing, along with that of Private John Hodgkinson.

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