Corporal Harry SELLERS


Regiment/Service:
Middlesex Regiment
Unit:
11th Battalion
Service Number:
G/4866
Date of Death:
3 March 1916 - Killed in Action
Age:
20
Cemetery / Memorial:
Memorial Reference:
Panel 99 to 101.


Personal History:

Harry was born on the 20th March 1895, the son of Joseph (Stone Mason) and Catherine (née Knowles) Sellers, later of 35 Windsor Road, Fairfield, Buxton (1911 Census RG 14/21233).

Harry had five older siblings, John Thomas, Bertha, May, Frederick and Lillian. Joseph had died by this time. In 1911 he was employed as a "Fruiterer's Assistant" by J.H. Dale and  was said to have: "... a promising career ahead of him". He also attended the Fairfield Wesleyan Chapel.
N.B. Both of Harry's older brothers also served during the Great War - see Footnote below.

Military History:
According to the SDGW database Harry enlisted in Buxton. The 11th Battalion was formed at Mill Hill in August 1914 and attached to 36th Brigade in 12th (Eastern) Division. It later moved to Colchester, going on to Shorncliffe in November and in February 1915 went into Ramillies Barracks at Aldershot. In June 1915 it landed at Boulogne,  concentrating near St Omer and by the 6th June were in the Meteren-Steenwerck area with Divisional HQ being established at Nieppe. Harry's Medal Index Card, however, shows that he entered France to join his Battalion on the 1st September 1915. Unfortunately, none of his Service Papers has survived, although "The Buxton Advertiser" reported that he enlisted in September 1914.

On 23rd June 1915 the Division had taken over a sector of the front line for the first time, at Ploegsteert Wood, relieving 46th (North MIdland) Division. 6th Queen's, 6th Buffs and 11th Middlesex were the units that first entered the trenches. In July alone the Division suffered the loss of 7 officers and 64 men killed, 18 officers and 413 men wounded. So it is quite likely that Harry formed part of the replacements for losses in his Battalion.

The Battle of Loos commenced on 25th September, continuing to 18th October. On 8th October, the Division repelled a heavy German infantry attack, and five days later Harry would have been in action again to renew the offensive, now called the "Action of the Hohenzollern Redoubt". The Division succeeded in capturing Gun Trench and the south western face of the Hulluch Quarries. During this period at Loos, 117 officers and 3237 men were killed or wounded. Harry was wounded at Loos, in the head by shrapnel, and was home on sick leave at Christmas 1915.

Early in 1916, after a period of rest, a plan was formed that required 4 mines to be blown under the enemy positions, which would be followed by an infantry assault aimed at capturing the enemy front trench called "The Chord". 36th Brigade made the attack after 170 Tunnelling Company, Royal Engineers, detonated the mines at 5.45 p.m. on the 2nd March 1916.

Harry was killed the next day, undoubtedly during this attack - one of more than 4000 casualties before the Division was relieved on 26th April. His body was lost and he is commemorated on the Memorial at Loos.

"The Buxton Advertiser" of the 25th March 1916 reported Harry's death by referring to the Official notification from the War Office. However, this had been preceded by a letter to his mother from L/Cpl T. Elliott [see Footnote below] which said:

"It is with my deepest sympathy that I inform you of the death of Harry, which took place last Friday (3rd inst.). He was shot through the head by a German sniper. I know what a terrible blow it will be to you and the girls, for he was a good lad, and thought a lot of his home. It is only a few weeks since he joined us, but we have spent many happy hours together, hours I shall never forget.

When we came to France there were five Buxton boys in our Battalion; two have given their lives for their Country; and the other two are wounded. Then came Arthur Phillips, but I hope to see Arthur again before long; he has gone into hospital, but should be well again soon.

May God comfort you and all your family in your bitter loss."  [see Footnote below]


Footnotes:
· L/Cpl G/17567 Arthur Phillips did get out of Hospital but on the 31st May 1917 was Killed in Action.

· The other two Buxton boys of the 11th Battalion were L/Cpl Percy PORTER who Died of wounds on the 26 July 1915, and
   Pt. John RAWLINSON - Killed in Action on the 18 October 1915.

· Private (later Lance Corporal) Tom ELLIOTT joined up with Harry, having a Regimental Number of 5809. He was the son of Thomas and
   Beatrice Elliott and lived at 117 Fairfield Road, Buxton. Tom survived the War and was awarded the Military Medal.

· Both of Harry's older brothers also served during the Great War - Sapper 160540 John T. SELLERS served with the Royal Engineers and
   Private 198057 Frederick SELLERS served with the Labour Corps.

Sources:
· Buxton Advertiser 25 March 1916
· I am grateful to Michelle Young for the photo from the Loos memorial.

Link to CWGC Record
The Loos Memorial
Cpl. Harry Sellers
poppy
The Military Medal