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  • Writer's pictureSarah von Allmen

Remembrance 2020 (7)

A short series of blogs about men from Stockport.

7. Harry George Wood of Heaton Moor

Nephi Howard Wood, a hatter, was born in Hyde in 1851 and married Elizabeth Hall in 1871. The couple began their married life in Denton, but also spent some time in the United States where one of their five children was born. However it appears that the marriage ran into difficulties, and by 1901 Elizabeth was living apart from her husband in her home town of Denton with the children. Nephi went on to have another son, Harry George, born in the US in about 1896, and a daughter Annie, born in Ardwick in 1905. Their mother was Mary Hurst, whom Nephi finally married in 1921. In 1911, these four were living in Ansley Grove, Heaton Moor, and 14 year-old Harry was working as a joiner.

Harry enlisted in the 19th Battalion of the Manchester Regiment (the fourth “Pals” battalion) on 27 February 1915 and was drafted to France on 8 November 1915. He was wounded in action in the back and left arm on 23 July 1916 but after treatment at a base hospital he was able to rejoin his unit about six weeks later.

Later that year, on 4 November, Harry was firing a Lewis gun which jammed and another soldier tried remove the magazine while Harry held the gun upright. However, he held it carelessly with his hand over the muzzle and a bullet was discharged accidentally which went through his hand. The wound became infected and Harry was invalided to England two weeks later and hospitalised for six months. On his return, he was tried in the field for a self-inflicted injury, but the evidence of other soldiers as well as his previous good character led the court martial to conclude that although he was at fault for negligence, he had not deliberately tried to wound himself.

Harry would not see home again after his return to France. He was promoted to Lance-Corporal shortly after rejoining the battalion and was killed in action just two weeks later on 31 July 1917 during the opening attack of the Third Battle of Ypres.

Harry is commemorated on the Menin Gate Memorial along with over 54,000 other officers and men who died in the sector and who have no known grave. At home he is remembered on the the Stockport and Heaton Moor war memorials as well as the memorial in St Paul’s Church, Heaton Moor.

My WWI website is dedicated to all First World War servicemen from the Heatons and Reddish: the survivors as well as the casualties.

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