Harry was born at the beginning of 1892 in Lewes, the youngest son of Edward Henry and Mary Jane Percy, nee Lovett. Edward was a lathe cleaver and the family lived at 17 North Street. Harry was employed by the Coop until he enlisted as a regular soldier in the Duke of Cornwall’s Light Infantry.
The 1911 census lists him with members of the 1st Battalion at the Gravesend barracks. He was numbered 9568 and this number suggests an enlistment date in late September 1910.
His family remained living at 17 North Street. Charles Robert Pinyoun from York Street also enlisted at the same time and was numbered 9560. (See his page)
At the time of Harry’s enlistment the 2nd Battalion was stationed in South Africa prior to being sent to Hong Hong, arriving there on 13/06/1913.
Since Harry’s papers are no longer available it is unclear when he transferred to the 2nd Battalion, but from other sources it is known that he served in Hong Kong in E Company.
The posting to Hong Kong was considered a prime posting and although they were working, there was a lot of inter-company sport.
The photograph shows E company in 1913. At this stage it is not known which man is Harry.
On the outbreak of war the battalion was recalled to the UK and left Hong Kong on 21/09/1914 on board the troopship HT Nile. They arrived at Devonport and moved swiftly to Winchester where they came under the control of 82 Brigade of the 27th Division.
Both Harry and his brother Arthur appear on the intercessions lists at St John sub Castro in September 1914.
On 19/12/1914 the 2nd Battalion marched to Southampton and boarded the SS Mount Temple for transportation to France. Arriving in Le Havre on 21/10/1914, they disembarked men and equipment and entrained for Rouen. They eventually arrived at the small village called Wardesque outside St Omer and went into billets.
A ‘History of the Duke of Cornwall’s Light Infantry’ and their war diary notes that during 1915 the 2nd battalion was involved in the Battle of St. Eloi during April, followed almost immediately by the 2nd Battle of Ypres.
During this offensive Harry was wounded on 08/05/1915 while in the trenches. No injury details are given but it was noted that he was an acting corporal having been made up in the field. He was one of five ‘other ranks’ wounded during the afternoon.
He returned to duty but was again injured on 24/05/1915 and taken to the 3rd Clearing Station with gunshot wounds to his hand and shoulder. He was transferred to base the following day and treated at the 4th Stationary Hospital, then based in St Omer.
He returned to the field but was killed on 29/06/1915. The DOCLI History and war diary for this period says that the 2nd Battalion had moved into trenches 80 to 84 at Houplines on 27th June. This area was the subject of continuous sniping by the German forces, and it is a reasonable assumption that this is how Harry met his death as there were no fixed battles on the day of his death.
The war diary notes that one ‘other ranks’ died of wounds in trench 84 on 29th June. No other deaths are recorded that day so this must be Harry,
Harry is buried in the Houplines Communal Cemetery Extension in plot III A 31. Although giving his mother as his next of kin his medals – the War Medal, the Victory Medal and 1914 Star – along with his effects, were sent to his father.
He is remembered on the St John sub Castro Memorial as well as the Lewes War Memorial.