Rank: Sapper
Number: 49916
Unit: 154th Field Company ROYAL ENGINEERS
Date of Death: 1 July 1916
Age: 21
Cemetery: Bienvillers Military Cemetery, Pas de Calais, France

Harold was born in Bolton and was still living at 23 Jenny Beck Street when the 1901 Census was taken. His parents were Joseph and Barbara and he was the youngest of three brothers. Norman was then 12 and Stanley was 7.

At the time, Joseph was an overlooker at a cotton mill and it was no doubt promotion to a management position that brought the family to Stockport where they lived at Riversdale, Goyt Crescent, Brinnington. The family worshipped at the Wesleyan Church at Portwood and Harold attended the Church's Day and Sunday Schools. After finishing his education, he went to work for Ellis Sykes & Sons Ltd, ironmongers, 14 Princes Street, Stockport.

He enlisted into the army on September 1914 and, after training, was assigned to the newly formed 154th Company around April 1915. He will have gone overseas in midsummer of that year. The following year, the troops spent many weeks preparing for the Battle of the Somme that was scheduled to be launched at the end of June. In the event, the weather forced a delay and "zero hour" was set for 7.30am on 1 July.

Harold and his mates spent the night making final preparations to assist the infantry who would carry out the attack. They had been making trench ladders to allow the men to quickly "go over the top" and small portable wooden bridges to be thrown across the top of trenches. The Company's War Diary records that about 6.30am, the men were changing position from Bienvillers Church to the sunken road to Berles. Two artillery shells fell amongst Nos. 3 and 4 Sections, killing Harold and 14 of his comrades and wounding another 17.

His officer later wrote "It is with deep regret that I have to tell you that your son was killed this morning by a shell. He belonged to my section and we all feel his loss as a personal one. He had plenty of "grit", for the last time we were carrying out some operations under fire, he behaved splendidly. He did his work willingly and well and the whole Company will feel the loss. He died doing his duty. May I, on my own behalf and that of the whole section, offer you our very sincere sympathy. We buried him this morning in the English Cemetery and are erecting a cross on his grave."

After the War, possibly in retirement, Joseph and Barbara Crompton had moved to 5 Bungalow, Hightown, Liverpool

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