Henry Lafferty, Private 10530, 2nd Battalion, Royal Welch Fusiliers
Killed in action 5th November 1914 in France, aged 22
Henry Lafferty was born in 1892, at Prestbury, the son of Julia and Patrick Lafferty, a general labourer from Ireland. The census of the previous year shows the family living at 8 Bollin Grove, Prestbury with Julia’s parents, who were also Irish.
Henry had seven older siblings: Ann, Mary, James Joseph, Francis, Thomas (who joined the Irish Guards), William (who joined the Grenadier Guards) and Timothy (who also joined the Royal Welch Fusiliers).
In 1901, Henry was living with his parents and Timothy at 9 Bollin Grove, Prestbury; by 1911, Henry’s parents were living alone at Dale Brow Cottage in Prestbury.
Henry’s Army service papers show that he enlisted into the Army in December 1910, joining the 2nd Battalion, Royal Welch Fusiliers (RWF). He was described as being 5 feet 5 inches tall, weighing 112 pounds, with a 34½ inch chest, a fresh complexion, grey eyes and brown hair. Henry’s former employer, John Jackson of Dale Brow Farm, Prestbury, provided a character reference, stating that he had known Henry practically all his life, he was sober and honest, and he had been employed as a farm labourer since June 1910.
In 1911, Henry was at Wrexham Barracks in north Wales. He later served with the Battalion in Dublin, where he qualified in transport duties in 1912, and India. He was promoted to Lance Corporal and his employment report records him as “strictly sober, honest, reliable and hardworking; a smart and intelligent NCO”. Unfortunately, a number of minor misdemeanours and an incident of being drunk and disorderly resulted in him being reduced to the rank of Private in June 1914.
The 2nd RWF landed at Rouen in France in 11th August 1914, just a few days after the start of the war, and was initially employed as a Line of Communications Defence battalion, later coming under the orders of 19th Infantry Brigade, which joined the 6th Division in October 1914.
The Battalion war diary for November 1914 includes the following entries:
1st Nov at La Boutillerie Fromelles: Slight attacks during the early morning without developing. The usual shelling, rather more shrapnel than usual, just before dark. Casualties R&F 1 killed 4 wounded.
2nd Nov: Enemy quiet to our front. Enemy shelled a good deal in rear of us moving….
Casualties R&F 1 killed 3 wounded.
3rd Nov: A patrol from A Coy surprised the enemy digging and managed to account for a few getting safely back themselves. Trenches were very heavily shelled during the day. Casualties 2Lt Davies wounded, R&F killed 2 wounded 10.
4th Nov: Quiet night. More sniping than usual during the day. Casualties Capt. R N Phillips & Lt. P..lton wounded, R&F 4 killed 3 wounded. 6th reinforcements (Lt Raffles & 37 men) arrived.
5th Nov: Moderately quiet except for rather heavy shelling in the morning. Casualties nil.
Henry Lafferty was reported to have been killed in action on 5th November 1914; as the war diary reports no casualties on that day, it is possible that he was actually killed late on 4th November.
Private Henry Lafferty is buried in Grave Ref. XI.C.3. at Pont-du-Hem Military Cemetery, some 20 kms west of Lille in Nord, France. The Commonwealth War Graves Commission holds casualty details for Private Henry Lafferty, and he is listed on the Imperial War Museum’s Lives of the First World War website.
Locally, Private Henry Lafferty is commemorated on the Macclesfield Park Green, Town Hall and St. Alban’s Church war memorials, and also on the Prestbury St Peter’s Church and Adlington St John’s Church war memorials.
Henry was the brother of Timothy Lafferty, who also served with the Royal Welch Fusiliers and was killed in action in France on 16th May 1915; William Lafferty, who served with the Grenadier Guards and was killed in action in Belgium on 3rd July 1916; and Thomas Lafferty, who served as Private 3283 with the Irish Guards, was wounded in France, and survived the war.