Henry (Harry) King
Harry was born in London on 13 April 1890, the eldest child of Henry and Emily King. Harry’s father Henry was born in Toseland and mother Emily was born in Eltisley. It appears that Henry and Emily moved back to Eltisley shortly after the 1891 census, as Harry’s younger sister Florence Annie was baptized in Eltisley in 1892. The family lived in Caxton End, Eltisley. Harry’s father died in June 1903,and so Harry, being the only son, must have been the supporter of his family.
Four years later, on 21 January 1907, shortly before his 17th birthday, Harry enlisted for seven years in the 2nd Battalion, Bedfordshire Regiment. Harry served with the 2nd Bedfordshires throughout those seven years in Gibraltar, Bermuda and South Africa.
According to Harry’s army records, Harry arrived in France as part of the British Expeditionary Force, in August 1914. It is likely that Henry returned from South Africa around January of 1914 without the main Battalion, probably due to the end of his seven year enlistment. He joined the 1st Battalion Bedfordshire Regiment before August 1914 as a regular soldier or a reservist.
The 1st Bedfordshire Regiment, which was part of the Fifth Division, landed in France on 16 August 1914. They disembarked at Le Havre and made their way, by marching and by train, reaching Pommereuil on 19th August, where they waited for the remainder of the 5th Division and 2nd Army Corps.
Harry very soon saw active fighting: on 20 August they started a march to Mons and on 23 August they were ordered to select and dig trenches at Wasmes, where they came under unexpected shelling from the enemy. The next day 2 officers and 66 other ranks were killed, wounded or missing during the fighting.
On 7th May 1915 Emily received a letter from her son:
Just a few lines to you in answer to your letter, which I received quite safe. I was pleased to hear you were alright. This leaves me the same at present. I have received two parcels from sister Flo, I did enjoy that hard tobacco, she sent me. Give my love to all Eltisley people, and remember me at the ‘Beehive’ on Saturday night. I have not heard from Eltisley people yet. You must forgive me for not writing before, as I have been in the trenches for 12 days. We have lost a lot of men, but the Germans have lost a lot more, but we got what we wanted, but it was a hot time. It was the worst sight I have seen, the big guns were enough to blind us, but thank God I am alive to tell the tale. When you write again send me Mr Cozens address and I will write him a letter. Goodbye and God bless you all. Think of me, and tell Stanley and Elsie I hope I shall see them.
Your loving son
Private H King
At the end of November 1915 the Battalion were in rest billets; Harry and ‘A’ Company were moved to billets at Etinehem, near Bray-sur-Somme. There had been snow and hard frosts, but between 28 and 30 November there was a thaw and heavy rain, which caused the collapse of parapets and communication trenches. Large working parties were required to try and cope with the situation. On 1 December Harry was working with the Brigade Tunnelling Company, when he was killed by a mine explosion in 73 trench.
Harry was 25 years old. He is buried in the Citadel New Military Cemetery at Fricourt, on the Somme. Harry was the first Eltisley man to die in the War.
|He is buried in the Citadel New Military Cemetery at Fricourt, on the Somme. Harry was the first Eltisley man to die in the War.|