Harold Mayers, Private 12001, 1st/6th Battalion Cheshire Regiment
Killed in action 31st July 1917 in Belgium, aged 38
Harold Mayers was born in Kerridge on 7 May 1879 and baptised on 15 June 1879 at St Christopher’s Church, Pott Shrigley, the son of Ann and Edward Mayers, a cotton spinner from Pott Shrigley. In 1881 three-year-old Harold was living in Jackson Lane, Bollington, with his parents and siblings Arthur (8) and John (6) – the census enumerator mistakenly stating Harold’s age to be 6 as well. On 16 November 1885 Harold was admitted to Bollington St John Church of England Primary School. He made steady progress at school, achieving Standard Grade IV in 1889 and finally left school on 6 May 1892, the day before his 13th birthday.
In 1891 the family was living at a farm house adjacent to ‘Old Hollin Hall’, and included another son, Fred. By this time Harold was employed as a piecer in a cotton mill, probably part-time as he was still at school.
Seven years later, on 1 February 1898 in Macclesfield, Harold joined the 17th Lancers with service number 4528. At that time he was employed as a gimp spinner, and was described as 5 feet 7 inches tall, weighing 136 pounds, with a 34 inch chest, fair complexion, brown eyes, dark hair, and a scar on his forehead. However, he must have decided that he didn’t like army life as he bought himself out one month later on payment of £10.
On 17 June 1898, Harold married Martha Whiston at Macclesfield Trinity Wesleyan Methodist Church, and in 1901 the couple lived at Garret Houses, near Oak Lane, Bollington with their two daughters, Annie (2) and Elsie (6 months); Harold was employed as a paper mill callendar man and Martha was a cotton mill winder. Next door lived Harold’s brother George and his wife Jane, and the next house was the home of Martha’s parents, John and Harriet Whiston, and her younger brothers.
Martha died at the age of 28 years and was buried at St John’s Church on 5th November 1908. At that time she was living at 3 Higher Lane, Bollington. As a result, the family was split up, and in 1911 four of the children – Annie, Albert, Doris and Edith – were living with Martha’s parents at 7 Higher Lane, Bollington, while Elsie was living with her aunt and uncle Gertrude and John Whiston at Cheshire View, Bollington. Harold was still living at 3 Higher Lane, lodging with Samuel Shilton and his family and employed as a labourer.
By the start of the Great War, Harold had moved to 25 Grimshaw Lane, Bollington.
Harold joined the 6th Battalion of the Cheshire Regiment, and after training, was drafted out to France on 17th February 1915.
In late 1916 Harold married Martha Ann Tellett, of Hawarden, Flintshire, in Birkenhead; in order to marry there, he may have been allowed back to England on leave, or perhaps he was repatriated due to an injury.
The 6th Cheshire Regiment was stationed near Houlle in northern France in July 1917, and later moved by bus to ‘St Jan Bitzen’. The Regimental Diary for the end of the month includes the following entries:
“O” CAMP. JULY 30TH. Battalion moved at 8.35pm to take up position in “X” lines, La Brique, prior to forthcoming attack. 2nd Lieut. D M Dyke and 14 OR [other ranks] to hospital wounded.
LA BRIQUE. ST JULIEN. JULY 31ST. The assembly of the Battalion was completed by 1.30am. At Zero plus 1hr 40mins Battalion moved forward to the attack, reaching objective at 11.15am. At 12.15pm, owing to flank units being unable to attain their objectives, and thus causing considerable casualties to my unit, it was necessary to withdraw to join up with the units consolidating in rear. The consolidation was completed and the new line held despite severe hostile fire.
Casualties – 3 officers killed, 500 (approx) killed, wounded and missing OR. 13 officers wounded.
Harold was reported missing after 31st July 1917 and it was later assumed that he was killed in action on that date. After his death was confirmed, Harold’s second wife Martha Ann married Albert Smith in 1921 and moved to 17 Bow Street, Willenhall, Staffordshire.
Private Harold Mayers has no known grave and is commemorated on Panel ref. 19-22 on the Ypres (Menin Gate) Memorial in Belgium. The Commonwealth War Graves Commission holds casualty details for Private Harold Mayers, and he is listed on the Imperial War Museum’s Lives of the First World War website.
Cousin of Harold Mayers, who served as Private 357935 with the 1st/10th Battalion The King’s (Liverpool Regiment) and was killed in action on the same day, 31st July 1917.
Brother of John Henry Mayers who emigrated to Canada and served as Private 2008795 with the Canadian Expeditionary Force from March 1918; uncle of Harold Mayers (son of John Henry Mayers) who served as Private 3475 with the 1/7th Cheshire Regt, then as Private 204032 with the 16th Manchester Regt and finally as Private 242709 with the 10th Cheshire Regt. Both survived the war.
GRO (England & Wales) Index: Births, Marriages, Deaths
Cheshire Parish Baptism Registers: St Christopher’s Church, Pott Shrigley
FindMyPast Cheshire Non-Conformist & Roman Catholic Registers (Marriage): Trinity Wesleyan Methodist Church, Macclesfield
Cheshire Parish Burial Registers: St John’s Church, Bollington
UKBMD websites: Cheshire marriage index
Census (England & Wales): 1881, 1891, 1901, 1911
National School Admission Registers and Log-books: St John’s School, Bollington
WWI British Army Registers of Soldiers’ Effects
WWI British Army Medal Rolls Index Cards
WWI British Army Service Records 1914-1920
WW1 War Diaries (France, Belgium, Germany), 1914-1920: 6th Cheshire Regt
Commonwealth War Graves Commission website
Lives of the First World War website