I struggled to find this grave. I parked outside the cemetery wall which hid its vast size. My heart sank when I scanned across acres of headstones that looked mostly similar. I asked a man who was tending his parent’s grave if he had any idea where the grave in the proffered photograph may be. He had no idea nor did the old man with a spine so bent it didn’t look like it would be worth going home. No idea. I’m going to stop asking locals where graves might be – I cannot recall one person has been helpful; moreover they usually - with some proprietorial air - say “it’ll be over there” - and send me in the wrong direction.
It was two sparrows and luck that helped me locate the headstone. I gave myself 30 minutes to find the headstone and soon time was up. I was walking back down the path to the car when I saw a water tap hadn’t been turned off fully. I leant over to shut the tap then saw two sparrows drinking from the small stream that had formed. As I erected myself I did a quick ninety degree scan of the nearby graves and saw Harry’s grave. Yes!
Harry was 29 years old and a sergeant in the 11th Battalion, The Manchester Regiment. He was fighting in Poelcapelle, Belgium for the British Army. On 4th October 1917 Harry killed three snipers. He then stormed two machine-guns sites wounding or killing instantly those manning them.
Subsequently he reorganised his platoon to storm and capture another position held by Germans soldier. When they got within 100 yards of them they were suddenly under a rain of gunfire and were forced to retreat. Later Harry set out from a safe position with five men to capture the position however he saw they were grossly outnumbered. It would have been suicidal to fight them and Harry withdrew his detachment man by man, he himself being the last to retire.
Later in civilian life he worked as an engineer at Joseph Lumb & Sons at Folly Hall Mills in Huddersfield. He also served as an officer in the town’s Home Guard in WWII. His wife died in 1940 and Harry in 1955, aged 67. Both are united here.
A dinner for the rare folk who were awarded the Victoria Cross.
Touching the “VC” and there it is to the right of the button…
Stopping at the war memorial on the way back to the car…