Harry WISWALL
Rank: Private
Number: 59764
Unit: 16th Battalion Cheshire Regiment (attached to 7th Queens Own (Royal West Kent)
Date of Death: 4 April 1918
Age: 19
Cemetery: Pozieres Memorial, Somme, France

Harry had been born in Cheadle and lived with his parents, Thomas & Catherine, at 16 or 18 Massie Street, Cheadle. He enlisted at Stockport, originally serving with the Royal Field Artillery (service no. 5136). It is not known when Harry was transferred to the 16th Cheshires, but this Battalion was disbanded in February 1918. He will have been again transferred to another Cheshire battalion.

On 1 April, the 7th West Kents moved into the front line near Hangard, south east of Amiens. A platoon of Cheshires had been attached to the Battalion and they were with its reserve company. Harry will have been one of the 50 men in the platoon.

The next day, the leading companies were involved in a failed attack on the enemy. Harry's company was moved up to relieve one those that had been in the attack. 3 April was a quiet day, but at 5am on the 4th, the enemy opened up with a trench mortar barrage all along the British front line. This was followed at 6.30 by an attack on the left of the Battalion's position, but this was driven off by Lewis gun and rifle fire.

Throughout the morning and early afternoon, an artillery exchange took place. At 3pm, the enemy again attacked on the left and was, again, driven off with many casualties. At 5pm, they successfully attacked the neighbouring unit and broke through their front line. They then worked their way towards the West Kents, trying to cut off the front line companies. The British soldiers held out whilst they still had ammunition but managed to retreat just in time. The front line soldiers now withdrew to join up with the reserve company which had formed a defensive line in front of the nearby wood. Heavy enemy machine gun fire forced the British line back through the wood, with many casualties.

By now, it was getting dark and the Germans broke off their attack. The British troops were able to reorganise and prepare for further attacks if they came. There had been many casualties, but few deaths. The West Kents are recorded as having only two killed. It is not known exactly where the platoon of Cheshires was during the day, but they were certainly in the thick of the fighting suffering 9 men killed. Harry's body was never recovered and identified and he is commemorated on the Memorial to the Missing.

(Original research by John Hartley for the Cheadle & Gatley War Memorials website)

   
           
   
     
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