HARRY HORTON (M M)

Rank: Lance Corporal
Service Number: 49980.
Regiment: 10th Bn. Cheshire Regiment Killed In Action Saturday 23rd March 1918 Age 23County Memorial Congleton
Commemorated\Buried ARRAS MEMORIAL
Grave\Panel Ref: Bay 5 and 6.
France

Son of Mr. William Edward Horton and Mrs. Rachel Horton, of 57, Canal Street, Congleton, Cheshire. He had one sister, Elsie Horton, along with one brother Frank Horton. In 1911, he was employed as a Printer Compositor.

Lance Corporal Horton enlisted into the 6th Battalion of the Cheshire Regiment on the 7th of December 1915 and posted to Base Depot on the 25th of October 1916. He embarked for France on the 24th of April 1916.  On the 6th of November he was transferred to the 13th Battalion and issued with a new number. He was awarded the Military Medal on the 18th October 1917 and it was reported in the London Gazette. On the 6th February 1918 he was transferred to the 10th Battalion the Cheshire Regiment under the command of the 7th Brigade, 25th Division.

Extract from Army Service Record.

The rumour gained currency a few weeks ago that Private Harry Horton of the 13th Battalion the Cheshire Regiment, had brought further honour to Congleton by winning the Military Medal and we are pleased to announce that this has now been confirmed. Mrs. Horton (the soldiers mother) having received intimation to this effect. Accompanying a breezy letter from the gallant soldier was a certificate signed by Major General E.A.T. Bainbridge, commanding 25th Division, which will doubtless be treasured by the family. The young soldiers letter to his mother (who resides in canal Street) is characteristically brief and throws no light on the manner in which the medal was won, and speculation is rife among his many friends as to the nature of the deed. The Major General referring to the conduct of Private Horton says I have read with pleasure the reports of your Battalion and Brigade Commanders regarding your gallant conduct and devotion to duty in the field on the 9/10th of August 1917 at Westhoek Ridge, Ypres. We in Congleton can only hope that his lucky star will continue in the ascendant and that he may be spared to wear the decoration so deservedly conferred upon him on bringing further honour to the old town.

Extract from The Congleton Chronicle 1917.

The Kaiser's Battle is the name given by the Germans to a planned massive assault on the British positions in Picardy. The intent was to drive a wedge between the British and French armies and capture Amiens. It was believed that this would result in victory at last and it nearly worked. Frontline positions would be overrun, with thousands killed or taken prisoner. All the gains of the previous two years were lost within a week. As a consequence of the confusion, the official War Diary records maintained by battalions are poor and the events, for many units, were pieced together after the battle from different sources. The story of the Cheshire's comes from the Regimental History. An attack had been expected for some time and preparations had been made. However, the swiftness and ferocity of the initial onslaught was totally unexpected. The Cheshire Battalions were in reserve when the attack started at dawn on the 21st of March. On the 21st of March, the 10th Battalion was at Achiet le Grand, 12 miles north west of the French town of Bapaume. At 06:00 hours they were ordered forward to occupy 1000 yards of trench at Fremicourt, about 10 kilometres to the east. The trench was immediately deepened, and a series of holes 100 yards apart was dug as a support line. The 22 nd was a quiet day and all the men could do was wait. At about 09:30 hours on the 23 rd , the enemy tried to rush the trenches with a surprise attack on the left, but this was beaten off with rifle and machine gun fire at only 200 yards range. In the early afternoon, the Cheshire's positions were heavily shelled and then at 15:15 hours, the Germans attacked in four waves. This attack was again broken up by small arms fire. Later in the afternoon, a third attack met with similar results. During the night the Germans dug in about 150 yards in front of the Cheshire's trenches. On the morning of the 24th, there were signs that the enemy was about to attack again, and artillery support was requested. Unfortunately, the bombardment was inaccurate and many of the early shells fell short on the Cheshire's positions, causing many casualties. By the middle of the afternoon, a further withdrawal of the British line was ordered, and the Cheshire's were supposed to take up a position at Beugnatre. However, before they could occupy the position, the enemy came on in force and the Battalion was forced to fall back to Favreuil. They did this firing all the time and retiring slowly in an organised manner even though by now, all the company commanders and many other Officers had become casualties. Although the Battalion War Diary does not mention casualty figures, it is known that Lance Corporal Harry Horton was killed on the 23rd of March, his body was never recovered, but he is remembered on the Arras Memorial, Pas de Calais, France. Lance Corporal Arthur Ball was killed on the 22nd and another two Congleton soldiers were killed on the 24th of March, Private Peter Henry and Lance Corporal John McGarry M.M.



Cheshire County Memorial Project would like to thank John and Christopher Pullen for this information on Harry.