Harry Insley Lee

Born: 1899
Died: 1956
Service number: T/37103
Rank: Driver
Regiment / Service: Royal Army Service Corps
Family information: Son of William and Charlotte Lee

War service

As the service record for Harry does not appear to have survived, exact details of his exploits are difficult to chart.

There are two sources, however, that give us some insight. The first is his Medal Index Card (MIC) and the second being his brother William's address book although there is only one date in the former and none in the latter.

These sources indicate that Harry had a somewhat turbulent time.

His MIC shows that he was first enrolled in the RASC (Royal Army Service Corps) as driver with service no. T/37103. However, information from William's address book shows that Harry was in the 53rd Young Soldiers Battalion of the Devon Regiment. This would make sense in view of the family connections with Barnstaple in Devon.

Harry seems to have graduated to the First Battalion of the Devon Regiment (D Company detachment) and posted to Whitburn Musketry Camp near Sunderland. It was after this that he transferred to the RASC as other information on the MIC indicates that it was whilst with them he first entered the 'theatre of war' – France 12 September 1915 (hence award of the 14-15 Star).

The second entry on the MIC shows Harry to have transferred to the Rifle Brigade – Private Service number 6732, so presumably this was in France. Initially he was posted to the 10th battalion and then the 8th. Then, at some stage he was taken prisoner of War and interned at Gustrow POW Camp Germany.

The dates of his confinement are not known and it may be that he sat out the rest of the war as a POW.

However, even if that were so, it did not signal the end of Harry's army career for the MIC then shows that he was transferred to KOYLI - Private, service number 6906068. This service number crops up in William's address book giving Harry based in Cawnpore, India although it still associates Harry with the Rifle Brigade (1st Battalion). Again, this is consistent with information on the MIC. The bottom entry shows that he was awarded the India General Service Medal and clasp (bar)

for the Waziristan Campaign 1921 – 1924.Thus, he continued in the army for several years after the end of WW1.

The Waziristan Revolt of 1919-1920 was sparked by the Afghan invasion of British India in 1919. Though the British quickly defeated the Afghans, the Waziri tribesmen gave the colonial forces a very difficult fight. Many of the Waziri men were veterans of the British-led and controlled Indian Army (India and Pakistan were combined at this time as part of the British Empire), and used modern military tactics and modern Lee Enfield rifles against the British and Indian forces sent into Waziristan. The Waziristan campaign between 21-24 was essentially one in which the 'Waziristan Force' (comprising several different British and Indian units) provided protection for the construction of a road to outlying garrisons in the northern part of North-West Frontier province ('Bandit country' then, as now). The project was completed in 1924.

It is thought that Harry stayed in India for a number of years working for the East India Company.

Family life

The Lee brothers first came to my attention via the Facebook page Memories of Brotherton. I started this page as a corollary of my research into Brotherton's WW1 servicemen and it has proved a valuable source of information.

The passage below is taken wholly from a posting made by Fiona Davies a direct Lee descendent:
"Here is a photograph from around 1910. It is of my grandfather and his siblings who were all born in Brotherton. Sadly their mother died in 1906 when my great aunt was born. Their mother's sister lived in North Devon and took on the care of the three youngest children (including my grandfather).
The two oldest boys stayed in Brotherton with their father, William Lee, who ran a shop as a tin plater / plumber in Gauk Street.

Their mother was Charlotte Dunnicliffe who was from Leicestershire but came to Brotherton to teach in the school. I'm still trying to research more of my family tree but getting a bit stuck as William Lee was the illegitimate son of Martha Speight who seemed to use the surname Lee, although I can't find a marriage to a Lee. She later went on to marry James Tuke.

My two oldest great uncles served in the war…. The photograph shows David Reginald Lee, Herbert Lee, Charlotte Lee, Harry I Lee and William D Lee".

Families by the name of Lee had been in Brotherton since at least the early 1700s.

In 1911, 51 year old William Lee was a self employed 'tin smith and plumber' living in Gauk Street, Brotherton. At the time William was widowed, his wife Charlotte nee Dunnicliff had died on the 25 May 1906 as a result of childbirth with daughter Charlotte seen in the family photograph.
As result the family were split up with the two oldest boys staying in Brotherton with their father and the youngest relocating to Devon to live with their mother's sister.

William had been born in Water Fryston about 1860 but the facts are not entirely clear. Indeed, there was also a William Nicholas Lee born in that area at about 10 years later and some versions of the family tree have him as the husband of Charlotte Dunnicliff, His family are easily traced.

However, information passed down to the great grand daughter of William and Charlotte specifically indicates that William's mother was Martha Tuke.

In 1881 he was living in Brotherton with his mother Martha who had been born in Ferry Fryston about 1825 and apparently used the name Speight and Lee. She had married James Tuke in Castleford in early 1864. On her marriage certificate it states she was named Lee and widowed but no record has been found to verify this yet. With Martha and James were William L (born 1860 in Water Fryston), Mary H (1864,

Water Fryston), James (1868, Brotherton) and Charles ( 1870, Brotherton). This places their move to Brotherton between 1864 and 1868. James was employed as a 'woodman'.

We can be certain that the William L is William Lee because of 2 facts. Firstly, his occupation in 1881 is described as an 'apprentice tinner' and secondly because in the 1871 census he is actually named as William Lee. At that time they were living in Acaster Buildings somewhere on Low Street.

William Lee and Charlotte Dunnicliff had married in St Edward's Church Brotherton in November 1892. Charlotte had moved to Brotherton in the capacity as a teacher

If the Lee family history is somewhat shrouded the same cannot be said of Charlotte's family. The Dunnicliffs and others are well documented and many photographs exist.

Charlotte was born in Staunton Harold, Leicestershire about 1871. Her parents were William (1824 – 1895) and Charlotte (nee Insley) Dunnicliff (1829 – 1915)

William was a bricklayer by trade and possibly built or lived in the house called Scotland House on the estate of Earl Ferrers. William and Charlotte were married in Smisby on 12/12/1850 just a few miles from Staunton.

Williams parents were Thomas (1783 – 1868) and Mary (nee Smith) (1786 – 1868) also of Staunton Harold but in 1861 were living in Market Street, Ashby de La Zouch and running a Grocer's shop.​

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