Harry Brocklehurst, Private 34554, 8th Battalion, Cheshire Regiment
Died at sea 9th August 1916 on HMT Ekma off Iraq, aged 23
Harry Brocklehurst was baptised on 25 June 1893 at St Peter’s Church, Macclesfield, the son of Hannah Maria and Thomas Brocklehurst, a silk weaver of 58 Saville St, Macclesfield. By 1901 Harry’s father had died, and seven year old Harry was living at the same address with his widowed mother and siblings James (26), Walter (23), Eleanor (20), Albert (18), Fred (15), Annie (12), Mary (3) and Louisa, aged 9 months.
Ten years later in 1911, the family was still at the same address and Harry was employed as an embroiderer at Hewetson’s St George’s Street Mill, Macclesfield.
Harry was educated at St Peter’s Day School, attended the Sunday School, and was also a member of the St Peter’s Working Men’s Reading Room. He was a keen athlete and sportsman, playing football for Hewetson’s team and also played for Macclesfield Football Club on several occasions. As a sprinter, he won prizes to the value of over 20 guineas in a number of local competitions.
Harry enlisted in Macclesfield on 15 December 1915, joining the Cheshire Regiment. His service records state that he was 5 feet 8½ inches tall, with a 34 inch chest, and weighed 138 pounds.
On 3 February 1916 Harry was sent to the training camp of the 3rd Battalion of the Cheshire Regiment, but on 20th June he was drafted with the 8th Battalion to an Infantry Base Depot in India. While training he received a qualification in bombing (throwing hand grenades).
It is not known when Harry became ill with dysentery, but he left Bombay on 4th August 1916, subsequently arriving in Basra. He was on the transport ship HMT Ekma at co-ordinates Latitude 29.54 N, Longitude 48.49 E off the coast of Mesopotamia (Iraq) when he died at 7.45pm GMT on 9th August 1916. His body would have been buried at sea.
His death was reported in the Macclesfield Times of 1 September 1916:
DERBY RECRUIT’S DEATH – FATAL ILLNESS IN INDIA
We regret to state that on Sunday Mrs Brocklehurst, 58 Saville St, off Copper St, Macclesfield, received an official intimation that her son, Private Harry Brocklehurst, of the Cheshire Regt, died of disease in India on August 9th. The deceased was 23 years of age and was called up under the Derby scheme in February. He went out to Mesopotamia on June 29th, and subsequently to India. Prior to enlistment he was employed by Mr A W Hewetson at St George’s Street Mill. Private Brocklehurst was educated at St Peter’s Day School, and attended the Sunday School. He was also a member of the St Peter’s Working Men’s Reading Room. Private Brocklehurst was a well-known footballer, and played for Hewetson’s team when they won the cup and medals in the first year of the Macclesfield Wednesday Knock-out Competition. He also assisted the Macclesfield Football Club on several occasions. Private Brocklehurst showed considerable promise as a sprinter, and won the hundred yards local at Hurdsfield and the second at Bollington in 1912. The following year he was again successful in gaining first and third at Hazel Grove and the hundred open and hundred local at Lyme Park. The deceased won prizes to the value of over 20 guineas…
In his last letter home Private Brocklehurst stated: “We landed at Bombay and then went to Kirkee, where a new camp is just starting. We are the first batch of troops to stop here and are settling down nicely under canvas. We have not done any drill yet, but we erect tents and make improvements for our own benefit. The people who live here are a curious lot, and the women have rings through their nose and lips. The waggons they use are ‘jerry built,’ and are drawn by oxen. The mail goes from here every Monday, and I will do my best to send you a letter once a week.”
Private Harry Brocklehurst has no known grave and is commemorated on Panel Ref. 14 and 62 of the Basra Memorial, Iraq. The Commonwealth War Graves Commission holds casualty details for Private Harry Brocklehurst.
Cheshire Parish Baptism Registers: St Peter’s Church, Macclesfield
Census (England & Wales): 1901, 1911
WWI British Army Registers of Soldiers’ Effects
WW1 British Army Service Records 1914-1920
FindMyPast Deaths at Sea 1781-1968 (TNA ref BT 334)
WWI British Army Medal Rolls Index Cards
Commonwealth War Graves Commission website
Macclesfield Times: 1 September 1916