Rank: Gunner
Number: 63896
Date of Death: 18 October 1918
Age: 28
Cemetery: Calvaire Cemetery, Montbrehain, Aisne, France

Henry George Blizzard married Emily Cook in the first three months of 1888 at Alverston, Hampshire. He was a professional gardener and, no doubt, had moved for his employment to Abingdon in Berkshire in 1891, when Emily gave birth to twin boys. Naming them was probably an easy choice – one was called Henry, the other George. They already had a 2 year old son, Thomas.

In 1901, the family was living in Mottram in Longdendale. Henry, senior, was now a head gardener and the family probably lived in a cottage belonging to his employer. Later, the family moved to Heaton Mersey where he became gardener at West Bank House (and later lived at “Ranworth”, 38 Moorside Road.

Henry, junior, followed in his father’s footsteps and became a professional gardener. When War was declared in 1914, he was working in the Plant Department at Eaton Hall, near Chester, which was the home of the Duke of Westminster.  He enlisted into the army in November 1915 and already overseas, he will have heard of George’s death in April 1918.

His service papers still exist at the National Archives and these show him to have been 5’ 6” tall with a 37” chest. His appendix scar was his only distinguishing mark. When he went overseas, he was posted to 109th Heavy Battery but transferred to the 71st in September 1918 after spending a month in hospital with an unrecorded illness..

As suggested by their name, the Heavy Batteries of the artillery fired the most powerful weapons in the arsenal of the British Army and were situated some way behind the front line. George was reported to have been killed when a stray enemy shell landed on the Battery’s “wagon lines”. This was the position some way to the rear of the gun emplacements where the horse drawn wagons and ancillary stores and equipment were kept.

In May 1919, the Army returned his personal effect to his mother. There wasn’t much – a wallet, letters and some photos.

The records of the Commonwealth War Graves Commission state that he was the son of H Blizzard and the husband of the “late Emily Blizzard”. There appears to be no record that he ever married and the reference to Emily must be to his mother who died in 1920.

Henry and George are commemorated on the Heaton Mersey War Memorial. The Stockport Memorial records the name of J Blizzard who served with the artillery. This is probably a mistake and Henry’s name has been wrongly recorded.

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