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Covering the villages of Wilsden and Harecroft
 

19th September – In Palestine, at midnight on the 19th of September, a huge British artillery bombardment began north of Jerusalem. Allied forces had resumed an attack that had finished a year earlier with the capture of Jerusalem itself. The allied attack, aided by the superior firepower of the Royal Air Force and the Royal Australian Air Force, broke through the Turkish defensive lines and were advancing rapidly northwards. Systematic bombing of both German and Turkish telephone exchanges, telegraph offices, railways, roads and troop concentrations destroyed the ability of the German and Turkish high commands to co-ordinate their defences. In two days fighting in the Jezreel Valley, Allied troops captured over 7,000 Turkish prisoners – the Turkish troops were badly demoralised and eager to capitulate – in one incident, an Indian cavalry regiment charged a Turkish position, killing 50 and capturing 500, for a loss of one man wounded and twelve horses killed. At Megiddo, where the Turkish forces were commanded to make a stand, the only shots fired at the advancing British cavalry came from nine German riflemen – whose brave stand was ended with machine-gun fire. From there the British cavalry rode on and captured Nazareth – covering forty miles in a single day and capturing the entire Nazareth garrison of 3,000. Turkish troops, retreating in columns, were strafed and bombed repeatedly by Allied aircraft, causing huge numbers of casualties, killing animals and destroying equipment, guns and supplies. By the 25th September, ANZAC cavalry had crossed the River Jordan. In a single week, General Allenby’s Egyptian Expeditionary Force had captured over 45,000 prisoners. A captured German officer angrily told his interrogators “We tried to cover the Turks’ retreat, but we expected them to do something, if only to keep their heads. At last we decided that were not worth fighting for”




Australian Light Horse in Palestine, 1918. Image from the National Army Museum collection




Harold Stringer

Pte. Stringer, Harold    57605      1st Battalion West Yorkshire Regiment (Prince of Wales Own) 

 

Harold was born at Bents Foot, Wilsden in May 1898, the son of Joseph Stringer, a machine painter, and Martha Stringer, a worsted machine winder. He was second of ten children; he had an older brother, Samuel, and younger siblings, Maggie, Edith, Mary, Amy, Hannah, Ann, Albert and Wilfred. The family later moved to 116 Main Street, Wilsden where they kept a tripe shop and this was where they were living when Harold enlisted in June 1916, in Bradford. Prior to this he had been employed as a mule spinner.

He was reported missing in action on 17 September 1918.

 On 14 October 1919 the War Office wrote to the Record Office;

“Death officially accepted as having occurred on or since 17th September 1918. The Director of Graves Registration and Enquiries reports that the above named soldier’s grave has been located. Will you please inform the next-of-kin accordingly expressing the regret of the Army Council that it must now be definitely accepted that the soldier was killed. It should be added that his name will shortly be published in the official casualty lists.”

Harold was buried at Chapelle British Cemetery, Holnon, France.   Grave No. II. B. 5.  He was 20 years old.

“Holnon village and wood were the scene of heavy fighting between the 6th Division and the enemy of 14-19 September 1918. Chapelle British Cemetery, named from a wayside shrine, was made after the Armistice by the concentration of graves of 1917-18 from the battlefields west of St Quentin and from Holnon Communal and French Military Cemeteries.”

Commonwealth War Graves Commission website