Service number: 17784
Regiment / Service: King’s Own Yorkshire Light Infantry
Family information: Son of John Henry and Kate Gibson
He enlisted in September 1914 and was one of a draft of men sent to Berkhamstead, to join the 10th (Service) Battalion, Kings Own Yorkshire Light Infantry. In November 1914, Harold Gibson was promoted to Lance Corporal.
On 11 September 1915, two months after his promotion to Corporal, the 10th KOYLI landed in France, designated part of 64th Infantry Brigade, 21st Division
The Battle of Loos began on the 25 September 1915, with the 21st Division, having just arrived in France, was ordered to remain in Reserve trenches. However, as the enemy pushed the British infantry back from Hill 70, these trenches became involved in the fighting. During the afternoon, the 9th and 10th KOYLI moved forward, towards the Loos-Hulloch road, without official orders. However, due to heavy machine-gun fire from the flanks, they were forced to withdraw, the 10th KOYLI having incurred 151 casualties. For the next five months the 21st Division was deployed in Flanders, with the 10th KOYLI operating rotational tours in the Armentieres area.
When the Battle of the Somme began, on the 1 July 1916, the 21st Division held the line from La Boisselle to Fricourt. At 07.30 hrs, when the barrage lifted and the 9th and 10th KOYLI advanced, they were cut down by machine-gun fire. In spite of heavy losses and after some fierce fighting, the two battalions, in Brigade, seized the first objective and pressed on to Crucifix Trench. Here the line was consolidated and held until they were relieved on the following morning.
After being withdrawn, the 21st Division moved north for re-organisation, the 10th KOYLI having incurred 462 casualties.
It is known that on the 20 July 1916, Harold Gibson was promoted to Sergeant, however, due to the absence of his service record, it is not known when he was transferred to the 8th KOYLI. It may have been on 16 July 1916,when drafts of men joined the battalion on its reorganization. The 8th KOYLI had incurred 550 casualties in the action at Ovillers Spur, on the first day of the Battle of the Somme.
On 1 October 1916, the 8th KOYLI entered the third phase of the Battle of the Somme. They assembled in the trenches near Martinpuich, in readiness to attack the German line in front of the village of Le Sars. Soon after dawn, the battalion came under continuous enemy shelling and lost a quarter of their strength, before the advance began. The advance, at 15.15 hrs. was successful and the objectives gained and held against enemy counter-attacks. The 8th KOYLI remained in the captured positions, until relieved on 3 October, having incurred 259 casualties.
One of these casualties was Sergeant Harold Gibson, killed by shell fire, on 1 October 1916. His body was not identified, but his name is remembered on the Thiepval Memorial. This memorial bears the names of who died on the Somme sector and who have no known grave. Harold Gibson is also remembered on the war memorial at both Parkside Methodist Church, Outwood.
Harold Gibson was born in 1894, the second son of John Henry and Kate Gibson of Sharlston. His mother Kate was the daughter of Richard and Hannah Wilkinson, a colliery enginewright. After the birth of their third son, the family moved to Ledger Lane, Outwood. On the 22 February 1901, his father, John Henry Gibson died at the age of 32 years and was buried at St Mary Magdalene Church, Outwood. At this time, Kate and her three sons went to live with the boy’s grandmother, Hannah Wilkinson, at Crossland Place, Outwood. Later in 1901, Kate Gibson gave birth to twin boys, Alister and Gordon. At the time of the 1911 census, Kate and her five sons were living at Newton Lane End, Outwood and Harold Gibson was employed as a pony driver, working underground at a local colliery.
On 4 August 1914, when war was declared, Harold Gibson was employed by Mr Fletcher, pork butcher, of Wakefield and the family was living at Woodbine Cottage, Newton Lane, Outwood.