Private Harry LOMAS
   

Regiment/Service:
Middlesex Regiment
(Duke of Cambridge's Own)
Unit:
13th Battalion
Service Number:
G/4853
Date of Death:
16 August 1916 - Killed in Action
Age:
22
Cemetery / Memorial:
Memorial Reference:
Pier and Face 12 D and 13 B.


Personal History:

Harry was born in the September quarter 1894, the son of James (Blacksmith) and Elizabeth Jane (née Lomas) Lomas. In 1901 (Census RG 13/3269) the family were living at 2 Alma Cottages, Fairfield, Buxton. In 1904 Harry's father, James, died and in the June quarter 1908 Elizabeth married George Goodwin (Stone Mason), who also enlisted for Service. (see Footnote below)

In 1911 (Census RG 14/21233) Harry and his two younger brothers, Reginald Walter and James, plus their new brother, Robert (Goodwin) were living at 145 Fairfield Road, Buxton. Harry was working as a "Confectioner". Later the family moved to 123.

Military History:
Harry enlisted in the 13th Battalion of the Middlesex Regiment in Buxton. Unfortunately his Service Papers have not survived, although his Medal Index Card shows that he was posted to France on the 31st August 1915.

The 13th (Service) Battalion was formed at Mill Hill in September 1914 as part of K3 (Kitchener's Third New Army) and attached to 73rd Brigade, 24th Division. The units of the Division began to assemble in the area of Shoreham and initially organisation was rather chaotic, the new volunteers having very few trained officers and NCOs to command them, no organised billets or equipment. It was March 1915 before makeshift drab uniforms arrived and not until July before rifles were issued.

The Division moved to Aldershot for final training between 19th - 23rd June 1915. Lord Kitchener inspected the Division at Chobham ranges on the 19th August and the following day were inspected by King George V. Orders were received on the 19th August to move to France and the first units landed at Boulogne on the 2nd September 1915, so clearly Harry must have been one of the early recruits to the Battalion.

The Division concentrated in the area between Etaples and St Pol on the 4th September, but their first Battle experience was truly appalling. After only a few days in France and after long forced marches they moved into the Reserve for the British assault at Loos. Planning left it too far behind for the men to be a used as reinforcements on the first day, but it was sent into action on the 26th September, whereupon it suffered over 4178 casualties for very little gain.

In 1916 the Division's first main actions was during the German's gas attack at Wulverghem on the night of the 29th/30th April on a front of 3,500 yards (3200 m.) held by the 3rd and 24th Divisions. Their next action was The Battle of Delville Wood, 15th July - 3rd September 1916, and it was during this action that Harry was killed in action on the 16th August.

The Battalion War Diary outlines the preparation for the Battle:

"8 August: 2pm marched across ridge to camp in valley on other side in bivouacs. Practiced attacking GUILLEMONT trenches till July [sic.] 17th." - presumably meant to read "August".

There are no more entries until the 17th, which signalled the start of the Battle proper:

"LIEUT. BURT first wounded by our shells then killed while going down to dressing station. 2nd LIEUT. DePASS wounded in shoulder by our shells. CAPTS. MIDDLETON & REEVES & LIEUT. PARKES buried in TEALE TRENCH and were dug out. CAPTS. MIDDLETON & REEVES went to Hospital.

2.45 p.m.: Battalion attacked GUILLEMONT trenches but was held up just outside them by M.G.s from strong point on right and then shelled heavily while lying in the open.

CAPTS. REED, JAMES & VAUGHAN killed. 2/LIEUTS. ADAM, BIRCH & BLACK KILLED. LIEUTS. ALLEN, KING, TROWER, NICHOLSON & SMITH wounded. About 340 O.R. casualties.

Bn. moved to BRICQUETTERIE for night." (See Footnote below)

Harry's 13th Battalion had 192 Officers and men killed or died of wounds during this Battle, 138 of whom, like Harry have no known grave and are commemorated on the Thiepval Memorial. The majority of the casualties (117) were on the 18th August, as the War Diary reveals, although one wonders how many were lost to "friendly fire"!. Only one other from the Battalion was killed on the same day as Harry - Pt. William S. BATES. The usual cause of these random events prior to a Battle would be sniper fire.


                                      ...  about the Battle of Delville Wood


FootnoteS:
·  Harry's stepfather, Sapper George GOODWIN, Royal Engineers, died at home on 25 March 1917. He is buried in Fairfield Churchyard, Buxton.

· The Officer casualties named above are: Lt. William James BURT; Capt. James Baron REED; Capt. Bernard Ashworth JAMES;

Sources:
· I am grateful to Jonty Wild for the photo of Harry's name on the Memorial
· I am also grateful to Colin Taylor for the War Diary extracts

Link to CWGC Record
The Thiepval Memorial
Pt Harry Lomas' name on the Memorial
poppy