21030. L.CPL. H. FORREST. WELSH RGT.
Henry (Harry) Forrest was born in Bolton in the third quarter of 1889. His parents were William Henry Forrest (b. 1855 in Preston), a self-actor minder by trade (a self-actor is a type of spinning machine in a cotton mill), and Mary Turner (b. 1859 in Liverpool). William and Mary were married in Preston in 1877 and they had 12 children: Elizabeth Eleanor (b. 1878), Peter (b. 1880), Jane (b. 1882), James (b. 1884), William (b. 1885), Eliza (b. 1888), then Henry, then Mary (b. 1892), Annie (b. 1894), George (b. 1896), Lilian (b. 1898) and finally Bertha (b. 1899). Mary (the mother) died in 1900, possibly following complications after Bertha’s birth, as she was only 41 years old. The older children were born in Farington, but between 1885 and 1888 they moved to Bolton, where the remaining children were born. In 1911, William Henry was living in Bolton with 10 of his children still at home but it seems Harry and James had moved out and Harry (probably with James) was living at Collins Road in Bamber Bridge when he enlisted in 1915. Harry was a cotton spinner, he was 5’ 5¾” tall, weighed 122lbs, and had a 35½” chest.
He joined 15Bn Welsh Regiment at Bolton on 24 May 1915, though at the time he was resident at 7 Collins Road, Bamber Bridge. (May 1915 was when many men from Bamber Bridge joined the Royal Field Artillery, but Harry obviously chose to go back to Bolton to enlist with his mates.) It’s not clear what the connection was with the Welsh Regiment, however, Harry landed with them in France on 2 December 1915. He was appointed Lance Corporal in the field on 23 February 1916. 15Bn Welsh Regiment was part of the 38th (Welsh) Division which took part in the Battle of Albert (part of the Battle of the Somme). The Division was used to assault and clear Mametz Wood where it suffered severe casualties.
The attack was intended to dislodge German troops from the wood and took place between 7 and 12 July 1916. On 7 July, the men of 38th Division undertook the first wave which was intended to take the wood in a matter of hours. However, strong fortification, machinegun posts and shelling killed and injured over 400 soldiers before they even reached the wood. Further attacks by the 17th Division on 8 July failed to improve the position. However, by 12 July the wood had been effectively cleared of German troops. The Welsh Regiment had 598 officers and men killed between 7 and 12 July. 72 of these, including Harry Forrest, were from 13Bn. Harry was 27 years old. The losses to the Regiment (wounded as well as killed) were so severe that it did not return to action again until over a year later.
Rank: Lance Corporal
Service No: 21030
Date of Death: 11/07/1916
Regiment/Service: Welsh Regiment, 15th Bn.
Panel Reference: Pier and Face 7 A and 10 A.
Memorial: THIEPVAL MEMORIAL