14538 PTE. H. CLITHEROE. K.O.R.L.R.

 

Harry Clitheroe has proved difficult to pin down in the Censuses.  We have his name, rank and service number from CWGC.  SDGW tells us that he was born in Bamber Bridge, lived in Leyland and enlisted at Accrington in the King’s Own (Royal Lancaster Regiment) and was posted to 6Bn.  From the Register of Soldiers’ Effects we know his mother’s name was Eleanor Jane Maudsley.

 

I am grateful to Janet Davis who has provided some further information.  Harry’s father was Thomas Clitheroe (b. 1874 in Bamber Bridge), a weaver.  His mother was Eleanor Jane Nelson (b. 1874 in Kirkby Lonsdale).  They were married at Leyland St Andrew’s in 1895 and Harry was born the following year in Bamber Bridge.  It seems Harry was their only son and Thomas may have died soon after he was born.  In 1901, Harry was living with his aunt, Elizabeth – Eleanor’s sister – and her husband William Wilson, in Leyland.  In 1911, he was living with another of Eleanor’s sisters, Zillah, and her husband John Groves, at 61 Spring Hill Road, Accrington.  Harry was working as a labourer in a calico print works.  Meanwhile Eleanor was working as a housekeeper for a Mr John William Green and living in Rishton, near Leyland.  In August 1914, at Rishton St Paul’s, she married Fred Maudsley, a club steward from Rishton.

 

6th Battalion, King’s Own (Royal Lancaster Regiment) was part of 38th Brigade in 13th (Western) Division and fought alongside 6 L.N.LAN.R. and 6 E.LANCS.

 

From his Medal Index Card we know that Harry embarked to join 6Bn in Gallipoli on 13 September 1915.  Although still a very dangerous place, the major assaults had finished with the failure to take Hill 6o in August.  13th Division was one of the last to leave Gallipoli, in January 1916, and from there they went first to Egypt then by the end of March they had joined the Tigris Corps at Sheikh Sa’ad in the attempt to relieve besieged forces at Kut-al-Amara.  The attempt to relieve Kut was a failure; the city surrendered on 28 April, after 24,000 men had been killed, wounded or taken prisoner in trying to bring it aid.  The loss of Kut has been described as "the most abject capitulation in Britain’s military history."  The army commanders were replaced, the army reorganised and re-trained and a new campaign was launched, eventually leading to the capture of Baghdad on 11 March 1917.

 

“From April to September there was much sickness in the Tigris Corps, causing extremely heavy casualties; as early as 28 April General Maud records in his diary that in his Division there were from 20-30 cases of cholera daily and from 5-8 deaths (the Official History of the campaign records more than 800 cases of cholera in April and May).  As a result of the above, and for the seven or eight months after the fall of Kut, the British and Turkish forces on the Tigris settled down into a condition of comparative inactivity which endured until the end of 1916”.  (Col. H. C. Wylly, The Loyal North Lancashire Regiment, 1914-18, p. 244).

 

Harry died on 20 May 1916.  His effects and War Gratuity were sent to his mother, Eleanor Jane Maudsley.

 

Rank:  Private

Service No:  14538

Date of Death:  20/05/1916

Regiment/Service:  King's Own (Royal Lancaster Regiment), 6th Bn.

Panel Reference:  Panel 7.

Memorial:  BASRA MEMORIAL

 

13th Division was the only solely British Division fighting in Mesopotamia.  The remaining 8 Divisions making up the Mesopotamia Expeditionary Force were made up of troops from India.  Basra Memorial records the names of 3174 men who died between 1 May and 30 September 1916.  Of these, 2445 (77%) are from the Indian Army (Sikhs, Gurkhas, Hindus and Muslims).  There were 10 from East Lancs Regt., 12 from the King’s Own and 8 from L.N.LAN.R.

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