Albert Edward Haines
1st/4th Battalion Royal Berkshire Regiment
Albert Edward Haines was the youngest son of Walter and Annie Haines. He is remembered on the kerbs of his parents grave although the lead lettering is now badly damaged and the actual wording very indistinct. Albert died 17 August 1917.
Albert Haines is actually buried in New Irish Farm Cemetery Location X.E.I. This cemetery was begun in August 1917 and used until November 1917, and again from April to May 1918. By the time of the Armistice it contained 73 graves in Plot 1. After the Armistice it was used as a concentration cemetery taking graves from smaller cemeteries and also bodies from the battlefields. There are now 4,500 casualties commemorated in the cemetery. The body of Albert Haines was initially buried in one of these smaller cemeteries at the time of his death and moved after the Armistice.
Albert Haines would have played a part in the action (The Battle of Langemarck), outlined below which was part of the Third Battle of Ypres. On the 16th August the British, on the northern flank of the battlefield, took the village of Langemarck, although the they were subjected to strong counter attacks. On the southern flank, the most important, there was failure. (Martin Matrix Evans) It is not known whether Albert Haines was killed in action or if he died of wounds.*
For the 1st/4th’s their time in Flanders was one of their worst. It seemed to the battalion that they were given impossible objectives and reinforced with inadequate reserves. In the attacks, at dawn on the 16th August, the 48th Division made little progress and they were reduced to hanging about under heavy shell fire moving into gaps against threatened counter attacks. The battles against pill boxes, gun pits and fortified farms were slow. Each objective was taken methodically by bombers rushing, as best they could through a ground of liquid mud in full kit, and throwing bombs through loop holes this was followed by concentrated machine gun fire. “A” company was hit by the opening barrage which killed their captain and wounded their other officer but they managed through the day to repel some small attempts of counter attack. “B” company also experienced difficulty getting through the barrage and spent most of the day in support of “A” company and without actually coming into contact with the enemy lost forty men. “C” company took part in fighting around the Langemarck road and lost all their officers and fifty men. “D” company did not move until the barrage had eased and spent most of the day in support of the Buckinghamshire battalion, they lost thirty men. By the end of the day one third of the 1st/4th Battalion’s strength had been lost. (From “The School,The Master, The Boys and The V.C” thestory of the Alfred Sutton School War Memorials )
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.
Francis John Harper
1st/1st Berkshire Yeomanry
Francis J. Harper was aged 32 when he died. He had been a member of the Berkshire Yeomanry for 12 years, resigning some years before the war at the rank of sergeant. When war broke out he re-enlisted as a trooper (the equivalent of Private) and would have been entitled to be promoted because of previous experience. He contracted a severe chill at Bear Wood whilst training and was brought to the Royal Berkshire Hospital where he died on the 6th January 1915 from double pneumonia.
The military funeral was attended by 140 officers and men of the Yeomanry, employees of Mr J. White, Castle St., staff from Whitley Special School, his brother Mr W. Harper of 102 Radstock Rd. himself an old Bucks. Yeoman, his sister and widowed father. A detachment of men from Bear Wood followed his flag draped coffin to the grave, over which the customary three volleys were fired.
There was a wreath from the children of Whitley Special School, whom he used to drive to and from school. The Standard reported that the children had the kindest regard for Mr Harper, who when he enlisted received a letter from the physically defective pupils saying –
Dear Mr. Harper,
We are all very glad to hear you are going to the front, but we are very sorry to have to say good-by to you. We hope you will someday return safely, and come back to drive our carriage once more. We have collected just a little money and we hope you will buy something you like with it. The socks are knitted by the girls. Thanking you for all your kindness to us.
Yours sincerely the Children of P.D.SIDE
P.S. Will you please let us know where you are stationed so that we may write to you sometimes.
Francis John Harper is interred in a Registered War Grave with a war pattern headstone.