Harold Davenport was born in Macclesfield in 1887, the son of Lucy Ann (née Moss) and William Davenport, a silk throwing mill piecer. In 1891, three-year-old Harold was living at 46 Buckley Street, Macclesfield, with his parents and sisters Alice Ann (13), Florence Gertrude (7) and Ethel Hannah (1). By 1901 the family had moved to 20 Knight St, Macclesfield and included five more children: George William (9), Lucy Eveline (7), Winifred (4), Hilda (2) and four-month-old baby Elsie May. Harold, at thirteen, was working as a silk piecer, but later worked as a pupil teacher at Christ Church School and at Macclesfield Grammar School. In 1907 Harold attended Chester College for two years to train as a teacher, afterwards being engaged as assistant master at St Stephen's School, Oldham.
On 4 January 1910 Harold married Florence Kirk Lee at St Paul's Church, Macclesfield, and the couple lived at 32 Littlewood Shaw Side, Royton, Oldham. A son, Whiston Lee Davenport, was born later that year but sadly died in March 1911. The couple's daughter, Edith Lee Davenport, was born in 1912.
Harold attested on 20 November 1915 and served initially as a private with service number 92928, drafted overseas on 6 February 1917. Just a few weeks later in March he returned to England to train as an officer at Fort Brockhurst, Gosport. Harold was awarded his commission on 1 September and returned to the front in October 1917.
Second-Lieutenant Harold Davenport was killed in action on 21 March 1918. His death was reported in the Macclesfield Times on 5 April 1918:
Sec-Lieut Harold Davenport, Royal Garrison Artillery, son of Mr and Mrs Davenport, 179 Newton St, Macclesfield, was killed in France on March 21st. Lieut Davenport was 30 years of age and married. He was educated at Centenary School and served his apprenticeship as a pupil teacher at Crompton Road School [sic] and the Grammar School. He afterwards went to Chester College and subsequently was given the position of assistant master of St Stephen's, Oldham, whither he went about nine years ago. Lieut. Davenport enlisted two years ago and was recommended for a commission twelve months later, after having served in France. He was gazetted Second-Lieutenant in due course, and took out a draft to France in October 1917. Whilst in Macclesfield Lieut. Davenport was connected with Brunswick Wesleyan Chapel and Centenary Sunday School. He has five cousins serving in the Army, three being in France, and one is a prisoner of war at Constantinople. A brother-in-law, Sapper T Storer, Royal Engineers, is also serving in France.
His death was also reported in the Manchester Evening News on 2 April 1918:
Lieut. Harold Davenport, RGA, 76 Heyside, Oldham, killed in action on March 21, was assistant master at St Stephen's School, Oldham, for nearly ten years, and prominently associated with the Scholars' Sports Association.
Information about the circumstances of Harold's death was reported in the Macclesfield Courier on 27 April 1918:
SECOND LIEUTENANT DAVENPORT
A few weeks ago we reported that Mrs Davenport, of 179 Newton Street, had received news that her son, Second Lieutenant H S Davenport, a former school teacher at Oldham, had been killed in action. A letter has since been received from a brother officer, which states: "Your son fell in action on March 21st, gallantly leading his men in getting their gun out of action. After fighting to the last he was struck down by an enemy sniper at short range. Owing to the intense machine-gun fire it was impossible to remove the body. An officer and a gunner, at great personal risk, went back through the barrage to make quite sure there was no hope, but the bullet had penetrated the brain and death must have been instantaneous. They interred the body as well as possible in a shell hole and then had to make away to avoid capture themselves without being able to bring away any personal effects... He was very popular with both the officers and the men."
After Harold's death, his widow Florence lived at 112 Cranbrook Road, Redland, Bristol. Florence married Arthur Victor Gouldsworthy on 12 June 1923 at Bishopston, Gloucester, and the family lived in Bristol.
2/Lt Harold Davenport has no known grave and is commemorated on Panel Ref. 10 of the Pozieres Memorial. The Commonwealth War Graves Commission holds casualty details for 2/Lt Harold Davenport, and he is listed on the Imperial War Museum’s Lives of the First World War website.
In Macclesfield, 2/Lt Harold Davenport is commemorated on the Park Green, Town Hall, St Michael's Church, Brunswick Wesleyan Methodist Church, Christ Church School and Macclesfield Grammar School war memorials.
In the Oldham, Lancashire area, 2/Lt Harold Davenport is commemorated on the Lower Moor (St Stephen and All Martyrs Church), and the Royton (civic) war memorials. He may also be the H Davenport commemorated on the Oldham (St Andrews Church) war memorial.
Elsewhere, 2/Lt Harold Davenport is commemorated in the Chester University Chapel.
GRO (England & Wales) Index: Births
Census (England & Wales): 1891, 1901, 1911
Cheshire Parish Marriage Registers: St Paul's Church, Macclesfield
WWI British Army Registers of Soldiers’ Effects
WWI British Army Medal Rolls Index Cards
The National Archives, WWI Officers' Records (WO 339/99070)
Commonwealth War Graves Commission website
Manchester Evening News: 2 April 1918
Macclesfield Times: 5 April 1918
Macclesfield Courier: 27 April 1918
Research by Rosie Rowley, Macclesfield.