Harry Tester

Mary Norris

Harry was born in Lewes in 1895 while his mother, Mary Ann Tester, was living in Brook Street. Harry’s father was not recorded but following his mother’s marriage to Harry Jordan in 1900 he was always listed on census records as Harry Jordan, and as the son of Harry Jordan snr.
Harry and Mary Ann had no other children. In 1901 they were living at 1 Pleasant Place but had returned to          18 Brook Street by 1911 where Harry snr was listed as a labourer for a coal merchant and Harry jnr as an errand boy for a grocer.

Badge of the Royal Sussex Regiment
as depicted on a CWGC headstone

Harry jnr enlisted in the 3rd Special Reserve Battalion of the Royal Sussex Regiment and was numbered LSR 1806. Harry’s army papers are no longer available to view but from other sources we can deduce quite a bit of his career.

From his number, the LSR denotes that he joined a Special Reserve Battalion as a regular soldier. The only RSR battalion with this prefix numbering was the 3rd battalion. Originally a militia battalion, reform in 1908 meant it became a special reserve. Numbering restarted at 1, and Harry’s number suggests an enlistment in late 1912.
Although the 3rd Battalion remained in the UK throughout the war, many of their men were called up to other battalions as reinforcements.

Harry’s medal index card shows he landed in France on 23/11/1914. The only RSR battalion in France at that time was the 2nd Battalion.

Their war diary notes they had suffered large numbers of casualties during October and November 1914, during what became known as the First Battle of Ypres.
They received regular batches of reinforcements during November and the entry for 23rd notes ‘Captains Cameron and Firke joined with 20 men.’ At the time they were billeted at Hasebrough. This group is likely to have included Harry.

Fighting continued through 1915. The start of 1916 was extremely cold. Harry’s obituary records that he returned to the UK suffering from frostbite, returning to the front probably during May.
At this time he was transferred to the 7th Battalion. The 7th received reinforcements several times during May and entries in their war diary note how many arrived, how fit they were and where they had come from although we cannot pinpoint when Harry joined them. This had been a relatively quiet, if wet, period.

It all changed with the start of the Battles of the Somme in July. 1917 saw the battles of Arleux and Scarpe. The 7th Battalion spent much of July 1917 in the front trenches on the Wancourt-Feuchy Line. Towards the end of the month it was quieter and casualties fewer. Deaths were mainly as the result of snipers. On 30th July the diary records, ‘Quiet day. Casualties I O.R. killed.’ This was Harry.

Harry was buried in the Monchy British Cemetery in plot I H 1. He was entitled to the 1915 Star and the War and Victory medals. These were sent to his mother along with his effects.

Harry is remembered on the St John sub Castro Memorial as well as the Lewes  War Memorial.

This page was added on 30/10/2020.

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