Harold SLACK
Rank: Private
Number: 47524
Date of Death: 7 June 1917
Age: 21
Cemetery: Aubigny Communal Cemetery Extension, Aubigny-en-Artois, Pas de Calais, France

Samuel Slack, a horse slaughterer, married Charlotte Thompson in a civil ceremony registered at Stockport in the early 1890s. They had at least four sons and Harold was their third. The family lived for many years in a “two up, two down” house on Great Egerton Street.

Other units had attacked German positions near the village of Gavrelle early on 5 June 1917, capturing a key feature known to the British as Charlie Trench. During the night of the 5/6th, the Fusiliers were ordered forward to help with the consolidation of the gains by digging a new trench from Curse Trench to Cuthbert Trench and, also, by stringing barbed wire in the new No Man’s Land.

“B” and “C” Companies started the digging, whilst the men of “D” Company acted as a covering party and also got on with the wiring. They regularly came under enemy machine gun fire from Wish Trench and this slowed down the work considerably. They could not complete the work overnight, so “B” and “D” withdrew back to safety, leaving the men of “C” as a garrison until the next night. They had lost 14 men killed; another 3 were missing and probably dead and 46, including Harold had been wounded.

He will have received treatment from the Battalion’s own medical officer but this will have been little more than first aid allowing him to be sent back to the rear a little way to the sector’s Main Dressing Station. There Harold will have been patched up sufficiently to allow him to be evacuated to a field hospital (Casaulty Clearing Station) some miles behind the front line at Aubigny.

The matron at the hospital later wrote to Mr & Mrs Slack explaining what had happened. “Your son was admitted here yesterday morning, mortally wounded in the neck. He was conscious but quite unable to speak and too exhausted to be questioned in any way. All we could do for him was to give him ease and make him as comfortable as possible. Poor boy! I told him I would write to you and I found a letter to his sister so have taken that address. I am very sorry for you in your great trouble. It is such a sad time for so many. He passed away at 2.25 o’clock this morning. He was buried this afternoon in the Soldiers’ Cemetery.”

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