1st Battalion Royal Scots Fusiliers
Horace was killed in action on 25 October 1916 and he was buried at Euston Road Cemetery, Colincamps, Somme, location I.C.6. This cemetery was a frontline burial ground during and after the unsuccessful attack on Serre on 1 July. The whole of Plot I represents the original cemetery. After the Armistice graves were brought to the cemetery from outlying areas.
The notification of Horace’s death was published in the Reading Standard on 2 December 1916 but no family details were given.
Initially, it was quite difficult to identify the H. Harding named on the Alfred Sutton War Memorial. CWGC records showed over sixty men named H. Harding but many lacked the personal details that would link an individual to Reading. However, an article about the unveiling of the Trinity Congregational Church War Memorial in the Reading Standard revealed the name of Horace Harding along with a number of the other Boys who attended the church. Yet again Soldiers Died was invaluable and a search indicated that Horace was a private, with the 1st Battalion Royal Scots Fusiliers.
Accessto Ancesty UK revealed that Horace was the son of George and Annie Harding of 88. Amity Road, Reading. His year of birth was given as 1897. He was 13 in 1911 and no occupation is given so it is assumed that like his younger sister that he was still in school. George Harding and Horace’s older sister and brother all worked at the biscuit factory. Details of his attestion reveal that he was a shop assistant when he attested in August 1915, his age is given as 18years and 8 months. He probably lied about his age when he attested. No picture has been found of Horace but the military record states that he was fair haired with blue eyes, 5ft 2inches tall and weighing 116lbs.
James Albert Forrest
20th Battalion Middlesex Regiment
James Albert Forrest was the eldest son of Mr John Alfred J. and Mrs Annie S. A. Forrest, 85. Albert Road, Reading. The 1911 census has the family living at 80. Rupert Street, Reading. James was the eldest son and he had six younger siblings, his brothers would have been too young to serve in the war. In 1911 at the age of 13 years James was recorded as being a hairdressers apprentice. His father, James had a hairdressers business. However, an obituary to James Forrest stated that he was apprenticed to Mr Walter Thomson as a hairdresser prior to enlisting. Walter Thomson was the father of Leslie Thomson whose details can also be found on this website. James was educated at both Newtown and Wokingham Road Schools. He had enlisted during the summer of 1916 and had served in the army for 17 months; he went to France in January 1917.
James was aged 20 when he was killed on the 23 or 24 November 1917. On this day there was severe fighting around Bourlon Wood as the British pressed home the attack. James Forrest has no known grave and is commemorated on the Cambrai Memorial, Louverval, Panel 9. The memorial commemorates all those lost in the Battle of Cambrai from 20 November 1917 to 3 December 1917.
Frederick Howard Elliott
Machine Gun Corps
It was initially very difficult to identify Frederick Elliot from CWGC information or a chance article in the newspapers. However, with the aid of the Soldiers Died the author located a Frederick Howard Elliott who was born and enlisted in Reading in April 1917 when he gave his occupation as a clerk. Formerly he had been Private, 170375, in the Royal Field Artillery. A search of the CWGC registers revealed that he was the son of Emily Elliott, of 98, Donnington Gardens, and the late Frederick William Elliott. This search also indicated that he was serving in the Base Depot. The Machine Gun Corps Base Depot was located at Étaples.
Frederick was aged 20 years at the time of his death on 22 May 1918. A search of Ancestry UK revealed Frederick Elliot’s military records. It transpired that on the night of 21 May 1918 Frederick together with Privates Nash and Rhodes had received orders to proceed to the dunes where they took cover in a old dug-out. At 5.15 a.m. the dug-out collapsed and Frederick was pinned down by one of the supporting stays and buried. He was recovered from fall of masonary and sandbags and was taken to hospital. Although he was conscious he was cyanosed, blue due to lack of oxygen, and had severe bruising to his upper abdomen consistent with crushing although he had no open wounds or fractures. He died the same day as a result of the injuries he had received. The verdict was accidental death.
It is possible that his death may have been linked to a chain of events, which are explained in more detail by Martin Gilbert in his book the ‘First World War’. Early in May 1918 there were a number of air raids on British cities. On the 18 May the British retaliated by bombing Cologne doing a great deal of damage and killing 110 civilians.
The following night German Gotha bombers struck at London. This was followed, on four consecutive days, by the bombing of munitions dumps in the base areas that resulted in the loss of 12,000 tons of ammunition. The Germans also targeted a railway bridge at Étaples but during the bombing raid several bombs missed the bridge and hit other areas, including a British Military hospital. During this fatal air strike many of the already wounded were killed together with the doctors and nurses who were looking after them. As Frederick Elliott was stationed in the Étaples area it is possible that the order to take up positions in the dunes related to these air-strikes.
Frederick Elliott is buried at Étaples Military Cemetery, Pas de Calais, location LXV. D.8.
The 1911 census indicates that Frederick’s father was a mixer at the biscuit factory, his older sister, Hilda,was a dressmakers assistant.