Harry WILSON
Rank: Private
Number: 21923
Unit: 118th Company MACHINE GUN CORPS
Date of Death: 10 October 1916
Age: 21
Cemetery: Martinsart British Cemetery, Somme, France

Harry's father, also called Harry, had died by the time of the 1901 census, leaving his widow, Emily,to bring up their two children. Emily, Harry and Alice were then living at 5 Newton's Buildings in the Hempshaw Lane area of Stockport. She earned a living as a laundress. The family history website, CheshireBMD, suggests she remarried in 1913 to Charles Scott and they then lived at 3 Bowden Street.

Harry enlisted into the army not too long after War was declared in August 1914. He joined the local territorial 6th Battalion of the Cheshire Regiment and was given the service number of 2395. 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 Harry 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."  

Harry and a Private Taylor were the two men killed and another local man, Harold Russell, was fatally wounded. Harry and Taylor are buried in a single grave along with three other soldiers from different units. They probably took the full force of the shell, literally blowing them to pieces and making individual identification impossible.

   
           
   
     
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