Harold Mayers, Private 357935, 1st/10th Battalion The King’s (Liverpool Regiment)
Killed in action 31st July 1917 in Belgium, aged 29
Harold Mayers was born in Bollington in 1888, the son of Rachel Ann and Joseph Mayers, a cotton grinder from Pott Shrigley. In 1891 three-year-old Harold was living in Water Street, Bollington, with his parents and siblings Ethel (11), Amy (8), Joe Arnold (5), and baby Hilda, just three months old.
In 1901 the family was still living in Water Street and included another two children, Ivy and John James. By this time, Harold had left school and was working as a cotton bobbin carrier. After a further ten years the family home was still in Water Street, at number 50, and Harold had progressed to working as a ‘cotton maker-up’.
Harold married Sarah Ann Clarke at St Paul’s Church, Macclesfield, in the second quarter of 1911, and the couple set up home in Macclesfield. Two years later, on 11th April 1913, Harold left Liverpool for Canada on the Virginian, presumably to find work; however, he must have decided against settling there with his family as he returned just over three months later, arriving at Liverpool on 31st July 1913, having made the return crossing on the Empress of Ireland.
Harold later found employment as an overlooker’s assistant for George Swindells & Sons at the Adelphi Mill in Bollington. He attended the Fence Sunday School and Beech Lane Methodist Chapel.
Harold enlisted in Macclesfield in May 1916, joining the 10th Battalion of the King’s Liverpool Regiment, which was also known as the Liverpool Scottish. In 1916 this battalion formed part of the 166th Brigade, 55th (West Lancashire) Division. Harold was sent to Blackpool for training, and was drafted out to Belgium a few months later.
The war diary of the 10th Liverpool Regiment relates the events leading up to the start of the Third Battle of Ypres on 31st July:
On the night of the 29th July 25 officers and 475 other ranks marched up for the attack, one company occupying each of the following positions: Congrieve Walk, Liverpool Street, Kaie Salient and Dixmude Street. No casualties were sustained whilst moving in…
On July 31st, Battn. took part in an attack on the enemy’s positions east of Wieltje, in conjunction with Brigades etc on either flank. At zero hour (3.50am) the 1/5 Loyal North Lancs Regt, under cover of artillery fire and machine gun barrage, advanced and easily secured their objective – the Blue Line. This Battalion, by companies, moved from assembly trenches in small columns to the Blue Line, and whilst waiting for the barrage to lift, re-organised. Keeping close to the barrage, companies advanced steadily and met with little opposition until the Steenbeek had been crossed, when heavy machine gun and rifle fire was encountered. The Battalion’s objective, i.e. the Black Line was ultimately secured with the aid of the Tanks, which put out of action the machine guns (firing from Capricorn Trench) which had held up the advance. The work of consolidation was proceeded with, the enemy’s snipers meanwhile being very active and causing many casualties.
At 10am the 164th Infantry Brigade passed through our positions with the object of capturing the Green Line. They were successful, but later in the day were forced to retire to the Black Line, owing to very heavy casualties and enemy fire.
During the day, on several occasions, the enemy attempted to mass for counter attack, but each time was dispersed by our artillery fire. Heavy rain set in and continued throughout the night. The subsequent two days were spent in holding the captured trenches, which were in bad condition, owing to the severe weather.
Harold was killed during this attack near Wieltje in the early hours of 31st July 1917.
His death was reported in the Macclesfield Times of 10 August 1917:
SHOT THROUGH THE HEART – LAST LEAP OVER THE TOP
Mrs Mayers, 14 Davies Street, Macclesfield, has been informed of the death in action of her husband, Private Harold Mayers, who was serving in a Scottish Regiment. The news is contained in a letter from a comrade, now a patient in a Manchester hospital, who states that Private Mayers was killed at 3.15 a.m. on July 21st [sic]. It appears that his battalion went over the top and Private Mayers was shot through the heart by a bullet, death being instantaneous.
Private Mayers was a native of Bollington, where his parents reside. He was formerly employed at the Adelphi Mill as an overlooker’s assistant, and enlisted twelve months ago last May. He trained at Blackpool and was drafted out a few months after joining up. Twenty-nine years of age, he was connected with the Fence Sunday School and was married six years ago, his wife being the daughter of Mr and Mrs A Clark, 54 Waterloo St. Private Mayers has two brothers in the Army.
His death was also reported in the Macclesfield Advertiser of 10 August 1917:
PRIVATE HAROLD MAYERS
Mrs Mayers of 4 Davies-street, Macclesfield, has received an intimation … that her husband, Private Harold Mayers (30), of the Liverpool Scottish, was killed in action on the 31st July… Private Mayers was a native of Bollington, and his parents still reside in Water-street. He enlisted in May 1916, and had been in France about twelve months. Prior to joining up he was employed as an underlooker at the Adelphi Mill, Bollington. He married about six years ago and afterwards came to reside in Macclesfield. Two of his brothers are training in this country, whilst two brothers-in-law are serving in France.
Private Harold Mayers has no known grave and is commemorated on Panel ref. 4 and 6 on the Ypres (Menin Gate) Memorial in Belgium.
The Commonwealth War Graves Commission holds casualty details for Private Harold Mayers.
Cousin of Harold Mayers, who served as Private 12001 with the 1st/6th Battalion Cheshire Regiment and was killed in action on the same day, 31st July 1917.
Brother of Joe Arnold Mayers who served as Private 111444 with the Tank Corps; and John James Mayers who served as Gunner 184471 with the Royal Garrison Artillery (RGA). Both survived the war.
GRO (England & Wales) Index: Births, Marriages
UKBMD websites: Cheshire marriage index
Census (England & Wales): 1891, 1901, 1911
WWI British Army Registers of Soldiers’ Effects
WWI British Army Medal Rolls Index Cards
WW1 War Diaries (France, Belgium, Germany), 1914-1920: 1/10th King’s Liverpool Regt
Commonwealth War Graves Commission website
UK, Outward Passenger Lists
UK, Incoming Passenger Lists
Macclesfield Times: 10 August 1917
Macclesfield Advertiser: 10 August 1917