Harold's father had died by the time of the 1901 Census and his name is not known. The Census records him living with his mother, Elizabeth and his younger brother, John, at 28 Ann Street, Reddish. 17 year old Harold was working for one of the railway companies as a wagon greaser. In 1905, he married Margaret A Clayton at St Augustine's Church, Brinksway, Stockport and they are believed to have set up home at 11 Smith Street in the Lancashire Hill area of town.
When Harold originally enlisted into the army, he was allocated to the Liverpool Regiment (service number: 42286), but was transferred to the Cheshire Regiment before he went overseas. His Cheshires' service number, 61339, is consistent with this transfer being at the end of 1916 or in early 1917 and he was assigned to 21st (Labour ) Battalion. In very early 1917, the Regiment's Labour Battalions were absorbed into Companies of the newly formed Labour Corps. The soldiers in the Corps were usually men who the army deemed were not fit enough for the rigours of front line trench warfare but who could perform useful manual work in the rear areas. They would undertake such tasks as road-building, sanitary disposal, grave digging, etc. These duties would often be carried out near to the front line and, certainly, within range of enemy artillery.
There are few records remaining of the day-to-day activities of Corps' units but it is known that, in December 1917, 57th Company was involved in road building. On the day that Harold was killed, the only indication is that they were providing labourers for the Royal Engineers.