Harry Shaw

Area: Brotherton
Born: 1891
Died: 28.10.1918
Regiment / Service: Northumberland Fusiliers
Family information: Son of George William and Jane Shaw of Brotherton

War Service

Elucidation of some aspects of Harry's military service proved elusive at first as he was not listed in the CWGC files meaning he was not buried abroad. There is, however, quite a lot of detail relating to him in the Army Pensions Records. Amongst the detail in these records is a description of Harry, at the age of 24 years 9 months, as being 5ft 8 and 5/8 inches tall with a fully expanded chest of 34 inches.

Harry enlisted in Pontefract on the 6 April 1915 and was posted to the 8th (Service) Battalion Northumberland Fusiliers which was part of K1 and attached to the 34th Brigade, 11th (Northern) Division.

1915

Embarkation took place at Liverpool from 30 June, with much of the Division sailing on the Aquitania and Empress of Britain. Mudros was reached by Divisional HQ and 32nd Brigade on 10 July. On 6-7 August 1915 the Division landed near Lala Baba at Suvla Bay, Gallipoli.

On 19/20 December 1915 the Division withdrew from Gallipoli and moved to Imbros.

1916

On 26th January the Division began to move to Egypt landing at Alexandria on 2nd February and concentrating at Sidi Bishr six days later. 19 February saw the Division take over a section of the Suez canal defences.

The Division received orders on 17 June 1916 for a move to France. Embarkation at Alexandria was completed on 3 July and by 7 of that month Divisional HQ had been set up at Flesselles. By 27 July, the Division had taken over part of the front in Third Army sector. The Division then took part in the following operations:

  • The capture of the Wundt-Werk (Wonder Work) - heavily fortified defence*
  • The Battle of Flers-Courcelette*
  • The Battle of Thiepval*
  • The battles marked * are phases of the Battles of the Somme 1916

1917

Early in 1917 Harry was posted back to England. This followed a period of ill health. On 30 November 1916 he suffered an 'oedimia' (oedema) to the right hand that necessitated treatment in a field unit. Then, on 6th January 1917 he was again treated in a field unit for diarrhoea before suffering another 'oedimia' to his left hand which led to hospitalisation at Abbeville. On 28 February he was on board HMHT (His Majesties Hospital Transport) ship Dunluce Castle. An oedema is the build-up of fluid causing affected tissue to become swollen. The swelling can occur in one particular part of the body – for example, as the result of an injury – or it can be more general. Oedema is often a symptom of an underlying health condition such as heart disease or chronic lung disease.

On 11 March he was posted to depot, probably Newcastle on Tyne, and joined the 3rd (Reserve) Battalion which remained in England throughout the war. However, Harry was then attached to the 85th Training Reserve Battalion which appear to have been at Sutton-on-Hull in April 1917. From there they were posted to France, embarking from Folkestone and landing at Boulogne on 17 June before moving to Etaples on 18 June.

However, in July he was back in hospital with a 'poisoned thumb' where he was suspected of having pthisis (tuberculosis). On being examined his sputum was found to contain tubercle bacilli. He had had a cough since September 1916 when on the Somme and had been losing weight. It was concluded that although his condition was not attributable to injury as a result of active service it had been aggravated by the strains of active service. He was then discharged as being permanently unfit for any kind of service.

Harry became what is known as a Chelsea Pensioner (no 123819) with a pension based on 2 years and 5 months of service. His records make mention of a 'sanatorium' but no location is given.

Harry Shaw died on 28 October 1918 of Tuberculosis.

His death was registered in Pontefract but it is uncertain if he was at home or not when he died.

Family Life

Harry Shaw was a first generation 'Brothertoner' in that his father came from Knottingley and his mother from Birkin. George William Shaw (1st) and Jane Willis were married in 1876 and were living in Low Street, Brotherton by 1879 as this was when George William (2nd) was born. By 1881 there was a daughter called Elizabeth aged 1 year. George was employed as a 'Quarry Labourer'.

In common with other Brotherton families no trace can be found of the Shaw family in 1891 in spite of using different variations on names.

However, they were still in the village in 1901 although George William (1st) had died in 1898. In the intervening years the family had expanded somewhat to include - George William (2nd aged 22), Edith E. (18), Willis (17), Eli (15), Sarah (12), Harry (10), Adelaide (8), Phoebe (7) and Agnes (4). George William was employed as a 'Miner - Hewer', whilst Willis was a 'Pit Pony Driver' and Edith was an 'Agricultural Labourer'.

In 1911, Willis, Harry, Phoebe and Agnes were still living with mother Jane in Low Street. Harry was working in a Glassworks at the time.

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