1918-2008: Ninety Years of Remembrance

Soldier Record

Henry (Harry) Ashbee

Contributed by: Adam Holmes, on 2008-11-04

Harry Ashbee
First Name Henry (Harry)
Surname Ashbee
Year of Birth 1868
Year of Death 1934
Regiment Royal Engineers
Place of Wartime Residence Manchester, Greater Manchester

Henry (Harry)'s Story

My Great Grandfather served as a Sapper with Royal Engineers from 1914-1917. In October 1917, at the third Battle of Ypres, he was gravely wounded when a shell landed on his platoon. He walked several miles back through the lines to the field hospital, where his right arm fell off when told to let go. Henry survived the war as did his son, but he never really fully recovered from his shrapnel wounds and died in 1934.

This from my Grandfathers autobiography.

" August 4th, 1914 WAR DECLARED. I well remember father reading the paper with pictures showing the first shots being fired by the Austrians. About six weeks later Father's work was very lean owing to the weather and the war. On the monday morning, he was waiting for a train to Warrington on Central (Manchester) Station- he was working there at the time, when onto the station came a party of men under Sir Morton Griffiths,men he knew from the tunnelling and sewer business, who had volunteered to go to France as Sappers. Father was soon induced to join them, was sworn in at London and the next we heard from him he was in France as a sapper in the Royal Engineers"

Three years later.........

"October 1917,how vividly this stays in my memory. One morning mother recieved a letter from the Army chaplin, saying Father had been seriously wounded in the elbow,shoulder and back. He had been brought back from France and was lying in a military hospital in London. The Chaplin advised Mother to see Father as soon as possible. Off she went poste haste to the Manchester authority and obtained a railway pass for the journey. On returning home she arranged evrything for us, as far as was possible in her state, and left on the afternoon train,taking my youngest brother George with her, after asking a kindly elderly lady who lived next door to keep an eye on us. Here I must admit that I suffered three of the loneliest days of my young life, and I am sure that my brothers and sisters felt the same, although we tried hard not to show it. This was ther first time in our lives we had ever been separated from Mother and although we used to squabble amoungst ourselves, we were a very close family and adored our parents.

On her return she broke the news as gently as possible that my poor father's wounds were worse than we had been told. He has his right arm blown off from above the elbow and his back slashed with shrapnel. What a wonderful women she was, for although her heart bled, she set about her daily tasks of looking after us. Come that day in May 1918 when father came home to us convalescent. The armless sleeve of his coat tucked in the pocket and although we knew, it was only then we realised the truth of it."

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