Harry Fisher

Name Harry Fisher

Harry Fisher as a boy
Harry Fisher as a boy in the early 1900s

Corps Leicestershire Regiment 2nd / 4th Battalion
Rank Private
Service No. 4960 / 241878
Date / Place of entry Market Harborough
Date of death 23 March 1918, killed in action
Memorial / Grave Bay 5, Arras Memorial

Harry was the youngest of four children of Solomon and Mary Elisabeth Fisher nee Sandall of School House, Middleton. Solomon and Mary settled in Middleton in the early1890s and Harry was born there in 1893.

Solomon was originally from Aslackby, a small Fens village halfway between Sleaford and Bourne. His mother died in 1857, two years after his birth, leaving three children. His father John, who worked as a groom / gardener, remarried in 1862 and had two more children. The family moved to Clipsham, some miles north east of Oakham and John’s birthplace.

1881 found Solomon back in Lincolnshire, employed as a wagoner on a farm in Wilsthorpe near Bourne. His younger brother Frank also worked there as did housemaid Mary Elisabeth Sandall. Mary was the eldest of ten children, one of whom became a regular soldier in the Royal Artillery.

She and Solomon married in 1883 and their first child William Dalby Fisher was born in neighbouring Greatford two years later. A second child, Edith Annie, was born in 1888 at Horn, not far from Clipsham, but in 1891 the family was occupying Willows Lodge in Station Road, Rushton. Solomon’s niece Emily, daughter of his brother Isaac, was there too. A second daughter, Rose Ethel, was born there before they moved on again to Middleton.

In 1901 Solomon and Mary were living in School House on School Hill. Their neighbours included Edmund and Mary Chambers whose grandson Thomas William Chambers was killed in 1917; George and Sarah Inchley whose son Alfred William Inchley died in 1915; and William and Ann Goode whose nephew George Thomas Goode died in 1918.

In 1911 Solomon and Mary and their two youngest children were still at School House. Son William Dalby Fisher, who’d been boarding in Kettering where he had been an errand boy, had got married in 1910; he and his wife emigrated to Canada and were living near Calgary in 1916. Daughter Rose Ethel was working as a housemaid in Hendon.

John and Emma Vye were living next door to the Fishers; their youngest son Frederick James Vye was killed in action a few months after Harry’s death. Another near neighbour was Henry Robinson Dunkley, a young grocer’s assistant boarding with his uncle Alfred Tilley; Henry died in 1916 as did his brother Alfred John Dunkley.

Harry was a postman still living with his parents in 1911 but he had moved to Lubenham by the time he enlisted in the 2/4 Battalion of the Leicestershire Regiment. The date is not known. The 2/4th was a Territorial Battalion formed at Leicester in September 1914. In August 1915 it became the 177th Brigade, part of the 59th (2nd North Midland) Division and the following April moved to Ireland. It returned briefly to England before landing in France on 24 February 1917 and going straight to the front line south of the Somme.

The 59th Diviison took part in the pursuit of the German retreat from the Somme to the Hindenburg Line and then in May moved back to the Cambrai front line before being rested in June and July. Late in August it moved by train to Winnezeelein near Ypres and was engaged in the Battles of the Menin Road Ridge from 23-25 September and the Battle of Polygon Wood which immediately followed it. Both were phases of the Third Battles of Ypres

In November the Division were ordered to Bapaume, taking part in the Cambrai Operations before being moved out to Le Cauroy over Christmas and January 1918.  

On 11 February 1918 the 59th Division took over the front line at Bullecourt and spent a considerable time strengthening the line for defence against expected enemy attack. In the ensuing Battle of St Quentin which began in thick fog on 21st March it suffered heavy casualties from German shellfire. The enemy infantry broke through the Division's front line position where it met that of 6th Division in the valley of the River Hirondelle, and many lives were lost. The 176th and 178th Brigades which had been holding the front line that morning, had fewer than one hundred men left alive by 7pm when the Division was officially relieved.

However, the 177th Brigade of which Harry was part carried on a chaotic defence with various parties of ancillary units. Harry was killed on the 23rd, the last day of the Battle. Francis William Muggleton from Wilbarston died the previous day, and John Wilden of Cottingham on the next; both were in the Suffolk Regiment.

Harry is commemorated on the Arras Memorial, one of around 35,000 British, South African and New Zealand servicemen who died in the Arras sector between spring 1916 and August 1918, and have no known grave.

Harry’s cousins Herbert Henry Andrews Fisher and John William Dalby Fisher of Oakham, the two sons of Solomon’s half-brother Frank, were both killed; Herbert died on 30th October 1916, the day before George William Timson. 

Harry’s mother Mary lost three nephews, David, William Henry and Arthur Harold Sandall. She died in 1920. Solomon died on the eve of World War Two aged eighty four..