Harry Duffield (MM), Lance Corporal 4479, Australian Infantry A.I.F.
Killed in action 4th May 1917, aged 28 years
Harry was baptised on 30th December 1888 at St Peter’s Church, Macclesfield, one of ten children of Catherine and Thomas Duffield, a carter of 7 Burgess Street. Harry attended St Paul’s school.
In 1901, at the age of 12, Harry was employed as a Silk Piecer. He later spent three years working for the Lancashire and Yorkshire Railway Company as an apprentice Carriage Builder. Harry is not listed on the Macclesfield census in 1911 and is believed to have emigrated to Australia around that time, joining his older brother James in New South Wales.
On 16th August 1915, Harry enlisted with the Australian Army at Inverell, New South Wales. His records describe him as 5 feet 6 inches tall, weighing 144 lb, with a chest measurement of 33 inches and tattoos on both forearms. He had brown eyes, black hair and a dark complexion.
Harry left Australia from Sydney aboard the RMS Osterly on 15th January 1916. In April 1916 he was admitted to the 26th General Hospital at Etaples, seriously ill with influenza, and was invalided back to England a month later, suffering from malaria. He returned to France in August 1916.
Harry was reprimanded in February 1917 for overstaying his leave in Amiens, but this did not seem to have harmed his career as he was promoted to Lance Corporal and also recommended for the Military Medal on 9th April 1917:
“At Hermies on 9th April, for gallantry in action and devotion to duty. Although wounded and exposed to heavy hostile shell fire, this man remained with his Lewis gun throughout, as there was no-one else to fire the gun. He handled his gun with great courage and resource, and inflicted much loss on the enemy.”
Harry was killed in action one month later on 4th May 1917 at the age of 28 and shortly afterwards was awarded the Military Medal he had been recommended for (Gazetted on 26th May 1917).
Lance Corporal Harry Duffield has no known resting place and he is commemorated on the Villers-Brettoneux Memorial, Somme, France. The Commonwealth War Graves Commission holds casualty details for Harry Duffield.
One of Harry’s brothers also served in France and was wounded.