Harry was born sometime in the 2nd quarter of 1880 in Richmond North Yorkshire. He was the son of John James and Martha Kinchin of 11 Castle Hill Richmond. His father worked as a joiner. Harry was the eldest of eight children. The 1901 census shows Harry, 20, Walter 18, Allanson 16, Annie, 14, Moses 11, Martha 8, Elizabeth 5 and James Stroud 1. By the 1911 census Harry was married to Priscilla and had two daughters, Lilla 7 and Muriel Martha 1, and a son Walter 4. Harry also made a living as a joiner. At the time they resided at 7 Reynoldson Yard in Richmond.
At the outbreak of war Harry and his brother Allanson joined up and went into the 4th Battalion Yorkshire Regiment. Harry and Allanson left with the 4th Battalion from Newcastle for France on the 17th April 1915 and after disembarking at Boulogne on the 18th arrived at Ypres by the 23rd. The Battalion was immediately involved in the 2nd Battle of Ypres and on the 24th April were ordered to make an attack on St Julien. During the attack 5 officers and 10 other ranks were killed. On the next day, the 25th, the Battalion had just the one man killed in the trenches. Harry’s death is recorded as the 25th so he could have been that single death, or it’s possible that he was actually killed the day before. He was 34 years of age.
Harry may have been buried after his death only for it to be destroyed by subsequent shelling. Harry has no known grave and is commemorated on the Menin Gate at Ypres.
Footnote: An interesting story from the Darlington and Stockton Times of Friday September 2006 relates to Harry’s body being found by his brother Allanson who subsequently made a makeshift grave and buried him. We have tried to find evidence to support this story, but have thus far found none.
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Three members of the same family served with the Lincolnshire Regiment. Seth William George Howson served with the regiment and received both the Queens South Africa and the Kings South Africa medals for his service during the South African Wars 1899-1902. He survived and is listed as living in Lincoln in 1911 along with his wife Elizabeth and his two sons George William and Arthur Balfour. Both his sons served with the Lincolnshire Regiment during the First World War. Sgt George William Howson, the elder son, worked as a labourer and painter prior to joining the war effort. He served with C Coy of the 1st and 4th Battalions of the Lincolnshire Regiment. Sadly he was killed on 13th October 1915. He was awarded the Victory Medal and the British War Medal posthumously and his effects were left to a Miss Sarah Ann Petty. We do not know how Miss Petty and George were related; was she a family relation or a future wife? CSM Arthur Balfour Howson MM survived the war and was awarded a Military Medal and a silver war badge in addition to the First World War medal trio. The Military Medal was awarded for bravery in battle, but no citation survives to describe the specific action for which Arthur received his. Aged 23, Arthur married Emma Eliza Stanford in 1916 in Lincoln. He worked in the manufacturing sector after the war, and is listed as in charge of Stationery & Mailing depots on the 1939 Register….
Florence was born on the 19th of October 1899 in Boxted, Essex, United Kingdom to Ellen Biggs and Henry Ernest Biggs. She enrolled as a VAD clerk for the British Red Cross and was stationed at the Military Hospital Catterick Camp. ‘Biggsie’, as she was known by her friends and fellow VAD workers, spent approximately a year at Catterick Camp. Stationed from 15th January 1918 until the 11th of February 1919 when she returned to Essex as a VAD G/S Clerk in the British Red Cross, Sobraon Military Hospital, Colchester. Florence Hilda Lily Biggs died in Essex, United Kingdom in 1984. This information, provided by Alathea Anderssohn has been drawn from the Imperial War Museum’s ‘Lives of the First World War’ archive.
Walter Gorner Barker was born in Richmond on 2 August 1889. For a time he lived with his family at 71 Frenchgate. He worked as a footman for Sir Mark Sykes at the family seat, Sledmere House near Driffield. Sykes was Commanding Officer of the 5th (Territorial) Battalion of the Yorkshire Regiment before the war. It seems that Walter may have served as a territorial soldier before the war (he has a low early regimental number 2274 which is then revised later to 240643). He enlisted at Scarborough and became a Private in the 5th battalion. Walter died on 27 May 1918, south of Craonnne. Prior to this, the battalion war diary records several days as ‘day quiet in trenches’ before the ominous entry for 26th May – ‘”Stood to” at night owing to information received that enemy attack was to be delivered on morning of 27th May’. The diary records that the bombardment began at 1 am with the enemy attacking at 4.30am. The battle lasted for four days. Walter Gorner Barker is commemorated on the Soissons Memorial in France.