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Covering the villages of Wilsden and Harecroft
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Sources

Keighley News Archive (accessed via Bradford Libraries website)

The terrible toll of the German attack of March 21st was beginning to be seen in the local newspapers. News of the missing, wounded and of those taken prisoner was filtering back. The agonising wait for news of the missing continued for many families. After one year, the missing soldier would be declared dead.

  • Keighley News, 4th May 1918

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Sources

Keighley News Archive (accessed via Bradford Libraries website)


Herbert P. Harrison

Gdsn. Harrison, Herbert Preston     29380   3rd Battalion Grenadier Guards



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Born in Wilsden in 1899, Herbert was the only son of Sarah and Preston Harrison, oil dealer & general dealer (mainly bowls and pottery) of Spring Hill, Main Street, Wilsden. He had an older sister, Maud and two younger ones; Clara & Minnie.

Herbert enlisted at Keighley, after being given a white feather on a trip into Bradford. He was underage and not eligible to join up, but he was a tall boy and lied about his age to get into the prestigious Grenadier Guards. There was still a minimum height requirement for the Guards and their superb drill and immaculate uniforms, even in the squalour of the trenches, was a source of wonder to the ordinary Tommies who adjoined them in the line.

Herbert’s father, Preston, died in 1917 whilst Herbert was on active service in France. The family lost both its men in a short space of time when Herbert was killed in action on 4 May 1918  aged 19.

He was buried originally at Willow Road Cemetery, Boire Ste. Rictude, but after the Armistice the 25 burials from Willow Road, largely of the Guards Division who were buried in 1918, were re-interred in Douchy-les-Ayette British Cemetery, Pas de Calais, France

Herbert’s Grave No. is   II. F. 15

Sarah had to support herself and her three daughters on her own. She bought Jos Craven’s drapery business at Bradford House (now the Post Office) which she and the girls ran between them.

 

 

 

 

 



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23rd April – On St George’s day, three obsolete British Navy cruisers, with a large naval force in support, were sent across the North Sea to the German-held Belgian port of Zeebrugge, where the cruisers were to be sunk, blocking the entrance to the submarine base there. The mission was extremely risky and daring – during the raid eight Victoria Crosses were awarded. The heavily defended fortifications around Zeebrugge were stormed by British landing parties, destroying many of the defensive works there; despite the fact that the attacking soldiers and ships were exposed to heavy German machine-gun and artillery fire, and the British landing gangways and scaling ladders were not long enough to reach the top of the harbour walls. On the far side of the harbour, an outdated British submarine, packed full of explosives, was sailed into the supports of a railway viaduct and detonated, demolishing a section of the viaduct as the five-man British crew narrowly escaped in a rowing boat. In the chaos and confusion, a German cyclist corps, hurriedly sent as reinforcements and unaware of what had happened, cycled straight over the edge of the destroyed section. The blockships were successfully put into place, but within three weeks the Germans had dredged a channel around them, and submarines were once again able to raid into the North Sea and beyond. The British had suffered two-hundred killed and four-hundred wounded. The British public responded enthusiastically to the story of the Zeebrugge raid – the simultaneous, but unsuccessful, raid on the canal entrance at Ostend was barely reported on, and no medals were awarded for that action.

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A German aerial photograph of the blocked harbour at Zeebrugge, taken the day after the raid – the scuttled British ships Intrepid and Iphigenia are blocking the main channel, with Thetis further behind them.

Sources

Gilbert, M First World War

Keighley News Archive (accessed via Bradford Libraries website)

Warfare Magazine Online http://www.warfaremagazine.co.uk/articles/The-Zeebrugge-Raid/105