Biography of Private Harry Chamberlain (43003)
8th Battalion South Staffordshire Regiment
Died 23rd April 1917
- Name: Harry Chamberlain
- Date of birth: 1895
- Place of Birth: Dunsby, Lincolnshire, England
- Date of Birth Registration: April – June 1895
- Place of Birth Registration: Bourne, Lincolnshire, England
- Name: James Chamberlain
- DOB: 1850
- Place of Birth: Essendine, Rutland, England
- Occupation: Farm labourer
- Name: Elizabeth Fowler
- DOB: 1855
- Place Of Birth: Pickworth, Rutland, England
- Marriage: 1874 Stamford District
Siblings: (Name), (DOB), (POB)
- Joseph William Chamberlain, 1876
- James Chamberlain, 1879, Morton
- Arthur Chamberlain, 1881, Morton
- Lucy Chamberlain, 1884, Morton
- Mary Elizabeth Chamberlain, 1887, Dunsby
- John William Chamberlain, 1890, Dunsby
- Annie Julia Chamberlain, 1892, Dunsby
- Harry Chamberlain, 1895, Dunsby
- Flora Chamberlain, 1896, Dunsby
- 1901: Harry is living with his parents in Dunsby, Lincolnshire.
- 1911: Harry is living with his father in Dunsby, LIncolnshire. The census gives him an age of 16 and he is listed as a farm groom.
- None found
- No marriage for Harry has been found and because of his age we can assume that he never had the opportunity to marry.
- None found
- None found
Soldier’s Died In The Great War
- These records show that Private Harry Chamberlain, 43003, 8th Bn South Staffordshire Regiment was killed in action on 23rd April 1917 in the Western European Theatre in France and Flanders.
Effects Left To
- Sister Mary E Edson
- The British Medal
The Victory Medal
© Picture taken by South Lincolnshire War Memorials
© Picture taken by South Lincolnshire War Memorials
Military Service Timeline
- Harry enlisted in Derby although the date is not known. We can see from his medal records that he did not see oversees service until 1916.
He originally joined the Sherwood Foresters (Notts and Derby Regiment) having a number 43111 and again it is not known when he transferred to the 8th Battalion South Staffordshire Regiment, number 43003.
As we are unsure of Harry’s exact movements through the war then we can only really look at what he went through in April of 1917. This has been taken from the Battalion Diary and is one of the best descriptions of life in the line during the battle of Arras. Unfortunately as the action gets hotter the writing in the diary deteriorates and so my transcription also is not perfect.
1st April 1917- Oppy
2nd April 1917 – Beaudricourt
Work on roads at all Bouque Maison Abandoned
3rd April 1917 – Beaudricourt
Brigade field day divisional conference at DHQ
4th April 1917 – Beaudricourt
Battalion training. Notice to move received.
5th April 1917 – Moncheaux
Battalion leave at 8am for Moncheaux (7 Miles) arrive 12 noon
6th April 1917
Battalion resting (Good Friday) Orders received to move to Givenchy-Le-Noble
7th April 1917 – Givenchy-Le-Noble
Battalion Marched to Givenchy-Le-Noble (about 7 1/4 Miles) arrived about 1.30pm
8th April 1917 – Noyelette
Battalion moved here at 12 noon (distance 5 1/2 miles)
9th April 1917 – Noyelette (this is the first day of the battle of Arras)
1am – Battalion under 4 hours notice to move
5.30am – Zero hour
11am – Battalion received news of 1st Line being taken
11.30am – Dinners
3.45pm – Battalion has orders to move at 4-20pm
4.20pm – Battalion leave Noyellette
5.40pm – Battalion hears news of capture of 3rd line, many prisoners, cavalry on the way.
8.45pm – Heavy Hail and snow storms.
10.20pm – Orders received to bivouac for the night on road-side, about 3 kilometres west of Arras. Bitterly cold, snow and sleet fall heavily.
10th April 1917 – Arras
12.25am – Orders to send guide for cookers, cookers to arrive for breakfast at 5-30am.
2.20am – Orders received “Be ready to move at 50 minutes notice from 6am.
5.40am – hear that it is impossible to get cookers up for breakfast.
7.45am – 2/Lt Armstrong and 5 NCOs sent to Arras to billet Battalion.
9.30am – ordered to march to Arras at 10-15am. 2/LT Hare rejoins.
10.15am March to Arras
11.30am battalion billeted in cellars
12.55pm – No move possible before 2pm. Dinners and rest. 1 days iron rations to be issued before 2pm. Guide sent for cookers. Leaving Warlus at 12 noon.
4pm – 1 days iron rations arrived and issued.
4.30pm – Cookers arrived. Rum and groceries to be drawn
5.45pm – Tea and Rum issued. Snow storms throughout the day.
11th April 1917 – Arras
2.30am – Orders to send 600 men for working party to 278th Royal Engineers Arras station 9am (Cancelled at 8am).
Results of attack (10,600 prisoners 250 officers, 113 guns, 163 machine guns, 50 trench mortars, capture of Vimy Ridge, advance of 5 miles on 12 mile front.
2.30am “News” Acheville abandoned, Boches retiring to Drocourt and Bois Bernard, prisoners 800 and 40-80 guns. Cav Corps 3 400.
Cav Corps advancing to 1st objective 4pm Batt of 37th Division along ??? Orange-Hill, 4th Army hold ridge Hargiecourt – Le Verquier
8am – working party cancelled
10.30am rumoured that we are North East of Monchy and that 5th Army pushing round Queant.
11.20am – Ordered to detail 400 men for cleaning up at Arras station at 12 noon. 2/LT Hackett to assist Brigade transport officers.
11.45am – Guides sent to Place-de-theatre for rations.
12.45pm – Situation reported “General attack made by 17th, 6th and 7th Corps and 5th Army 15th Division North East of Monchy, 37th Division said to be in Monchy La-Bergere farm captured, heavy barrage West of Monchy
5th Army gained 1st objective Bollecourt-Queant.
2.30pm Rations arrive
3.30pm Waiting orders “17th Division transfered to VI Corps, ordered to relieve 15th Division to North of Monchy at night.
4.15pm – working party withdrawn.
9.15 pm – 51st Brigade put at 50 minutes notice from 5am (12th inst) to move into reserve in Battery-Valley and Feuchy.
12th April 1917
Snowing all night.
5am – Breakfast
9.30am – Echelon B arrives in Arras. C.O. visits Brigade and leaves plan of attack of 6th Corps. Explained to O.C. Companies
6.10pm – Orders to send advance parties to reconnoitre accomodation in Railway-Triangle east of Blangy (occupied by 46th Brigade)
6.30pm – 1 officer and 1 NCO per company proceed there.
6.50pm – having order “52 Brigade willprobably relieve 50th brigade on night of 13/14th. 51st Brigade will relieve 52nd in support. 51st Brigade will probably move to Railway Triangle early on morning of 13th.
9.30pm – Orders received to pass starting point at 6-12am 13th inst.Advance parties report many dug-outs (Several Flooded) in Railway Triangle, in embankment 30′ high, also large tunnel. Impossible for progress of G.S and L.W’s. A few H.V Shells on Arras late in afternoon.
13th April 1917
5am – Breakfast
6.5am – Battalion falls in
6.12am – Battalion marches from Arras to Railway Triangle 1 1/2 miles South West of Athies. (100 yards between companies) route “along railway”
8.30am – All in long tunnel order, embankment as in trenches.
1.30pm – Attack by 29th Division and 50th Brigade postponed 24 hours.
1.55pm – S.O.S Changed
5pm – 2/LT Scott, Green, Smith and Whittaker reconnoitre route to Feuchy Chapel
6.30pm – Arrival of rations
8pm – Greatcoats arrive for A,B and 1/2 C companies
14th April 1917 – Railway Triangle
12.05am – Operation orders ” Battalion will relieve 1st Essex and part of 50th Brigade East of Monchy, probably after midnight 14/15th
7am – Breakfasts
9.30am – Companies cleaning up and bury 2 horses, collect and dump salvage.
12 noon – Brigadiers interviews commanding officers. Battalion will now relieve 2nd Hants in brigade reserve West of Monchy.
29th Division reported to have attacked and gained their objective South East of Monchy in early morning.
2.30pm – Situation. ’29th Division heavily counter-attacked falls back to original line.
Battalion at 30 minutes notice to move.
2pm – Companies send parties for 1 hales grenade per man.
2.45pm – Commanding Officer interviews Officers commanding companies and explains situation.
3.30pm – Quartermaster and 2/LT Hare arrive with rations on pack animals.
3.30pm -Sherwoods and Lincolns move forward at about 4 and 6 pm satisfactorily.
4 – 4.30PM – Heavy Bosche barrage from South of Monchy to North of river Scarpe.
7.45pm – Information from brigade major of probability of standing fast for the night. Companies warned, bivouacs re-erected.
8.15pm – Brigade Majors companies above information. Greatcoats re-issued to companies.
Battalion to stand fast in present position. 29th Division believed to have lost East of Monchy and intend to retake same.
2/LT Kelsey rejoins from hospital (at Echelon “B” transport in Arras)
15th April 1917
12.20pm – Brigadier brings in new situation as indicated by places this morning. Monchy in a narrow salient.
1.35pm – Commanding Officers, 2/LT Scott and Green, and 1 officer and 1 NCO per company reconnoiter route and meet representatives of people to be relieved (1st Lancs first)
1.43pm – Brigade B.O informs us no relief tonight
4pm – Arrival of rations
6.15pm – Battalion sets out to work under 93rd Field Company Royal Engineers on Orange Hill – Chapel Hill line., captain Foster in charge of party.
8.53pm – Commanding officer returns
16th April 1917
2am – 2/LT Green treturns having explained dispositions of 1st Lancs
3.40am – Companies return from working party having completed job. C company 3 other ranks wounded (1 at duty).
7.30pm – Rain
17th April 1917
News received that the French have captured 11,000 prisoners, and are being heavily counter attacked by fresh Divisions. During the morning A and C, B and D companies change positions.
1.25pm – A few shells found the Triangle. 2 other ranks of B company killed
2pm – Commanding officer visits 52nd Brigade HQ North of Monchy (staffs and Borders to attack North of Monchy and River Scarpe.
6.30pm – Snow storms. Orders received that 51st Brigade will relieve 52nd Brigade on 18th inst. Staffs to relieve 10th Lancs first on left, borders on right.
9.30pm – Situation Report “5th and 6th French Armies have taken 12,00 prisoners (16th inst.) many counter attacks. 4th French army attacked on 15 kilometre front from Mauroy to Auberibe: punctuated 1-2 kilometres.
18th April 1917
Rainy mornning, ground terribly muddy
11.30am – Commanding officer attends conference at brigade HQ
2.30pm – Commanding officer explains situation and plans to all officers and NCOs
7pm – 1 officer and 1 NCO per company go ahead to locate posts in front in daylight.
7.30pm – Battalion starts from Railway Triangle along railway to front line South of River Scarpe, North of Monchy-Le-Preux in order D C B A HQ
10th L.F’s leave party behind for short time to continue C.T to A company from railway. 2 companies of Yorks and Lanccs at work during night digging assembly trench North from Lone Copse (right of battalion front) C company ordered to occupy it with one platoon when complete.
19th April 1917
2am – Situation Normal, C company report intermittant shelling 10pm to 11.15pm. 1 platoon of C Company occupy assembly trench North of Lone Copse.
3-3.40am – Each company sends out a patrol 2/LT Barlow went to discover if T trench opposite was held, was fired on twice. Enemy sent up several very lights, much on the alert, occasional sniping.
Touch gained with 7th Borders on right and 5th Gordons on left.
Work during night continuing C.T. from Railway to front line, deepening and widening trench where necessary, extending trenches to make one continuous line.
4.40am – Commanding Officer makes tour of line.
8am – Situation quiet
2pm – Situation normal, intermittent shelling on posts and line. Poor visibility
2.47pm – Orders received that Yorks Regiment (50th Brigade) will relieve us tonight.
6pm Billeting party sent to Brown Line
9.10pm – F.O.O reports and SOS sent up on our front, false alarm. Heavy shelling North of River Scarpe. Promiscuous shelling of railway, Feuchy etc.
Enemy puts barrage 200 yards West of his T Trench – in front of our assembly trench.
9.40pm – Matters quietened down. 2/LT Barlow patrols North East of Lone Copse to discover supposed enemy post. Finds all clear.
11.50PM – Relief by Yorks complete. Companies move independently to Brown Line. Pick up rations from divisional canteen at Feuchy.
20th April 1917
1 AM – Battalion all in Brown Line
3.10am – Enemy shells neighbourhood of battalion bivouacs for 15 minutes. 20 casualties. Spasmodic shelling of area around gun emplacements close to Brown Line and west of it. about a dozen gas shells first over during morning.
4.10pm – Battalion relieved by 9th N.F., march across country to Estaminet corner then via Cambrai Road to Arras. Battalion in caves, all in by 6.45pm
21st April 2017
Battalion bathes in the morning.
11am – Commanding Officer goes to headquarters 51st infantry brigade Railway Triangle for commanding officer’s conference and returns at 2.50pm
2.50pm – (unable to read)
4pm- Commanding Officer sees all officers and informs them of attack. Brigade depot moves from Bernaville to near Citadel Arras.
6.35pm – Battalion starts for line. Platoons in file. Route Cambrai Road to Estaminet corner thence across country to junction of Railway and the Brown Line.
7.40pm – Commanding Officer receives order from 50th Brigade Not to cross Brown Line before ? ? to work parties being in post line.
10pm – Battalion leave Brown Line to relieve 7th Yorks in front line South of River Scarpe. 7th Yorks have one company out as covering party to a working party of Yorks and lancs digging assembly trench about 600 yards in front of front line. Working party did not arrive and the trench was not dug.
Yorks have a patrol along southern side of canal towards Reaux. Patrol fired upon and discover enemy post in water tower on side of lake.
22nd April 1917.
12.50am – Relief complete with exception of covering party and patrol.
2am – Patrol mentioned above returns and covering party in with ?
4am – Commanding Officer visits front line and goes forward to inspect site of assembly trench and high bank.
6.30am – Commanding Officer returns and dictates operation order for companies (Copy Attached)
3.10pm – Operational Orders issued to companies
7.20pm – Brigade Major calls on Battalion HQ
7.25pm – Artillery Program received
7.30pm – Brigadier calls to see Commanding Officer
8pm – Artillery program issued to companies
8.25pm – Battalion HQ moves to C company HQ in front line
8.30pm – Covering party B Company first and to cover working party Yorks and Lancs digging assembly trenches
10pm – 20 men A company carry forward smoke bombs for special Company Royal Engineers.
9.45pm – Gas projected into the wood west of Roeux
10.30pm – Commanding Officer goes to Brigade HQ for final arrangements as to liaison with 154th Brigade on the left. Returns to Battalion HQ at 11.30pm
12 midnight – Hot tea issued to all men
23rd April 1917
2am – Companies commence moving to assembly trenches. 2nd Lieut Scott ? ? wire from Battalion HQ to assembly trench and reports completion 3.5am
3.30am – Captain Foster reports that all companies are in position in assembly trenches. Commanding Officer reports this to Brigade.
4am – Commanding Officer and HQs move forward to assembly trenches,, incoming telephone speaking staff to transmit messages from HQ to Brigade HQ.
4.35am – Commanding officer inspects first wave who are all in position lying down ready to advance. Men in excellent spirits.
4.45am – Artillery Barrage opened on a line 200 yards west of enemy trench.
4.47am – First wave advances
4.48am – Artillery barrage lifts 200 yards. First wave close in behind.
4.51am – Artillery Barrage lists onto enemy trench. First wave close in behind arrives at enemy wire and under gallery fire from left flank.
4.55am – A company in support joins first wave. Most officers of all 3 companies either killed or wounded. men hold on, firing until 5am when they withdrew slowly having no leaders.
5am – Commanding Officer pushes forward and attempts to rally and encourage the companies which are much mixed up. also asks Artillery Liaison Officer to get barrage which has now gone on to the fire trench back to the enemy front trench.
5.10am – a shout that enemy is leaving and when Battalion rushes forward to enemy trench again for a second time they come under galley Machine Gun fire from the left flank and many more casualties are suffered.
5.30am – Commanding Officer and his officers reform battalion in two lines extended and when this is nearly complete it is received that the artillery have brought back the barrage on the enemy’s fire trench.
A general advance is again made this time with the men of the first line firing from the hip. The same cause viz forward fire from the left stoped the attack at the enemy wire.
5.40am – Battalion finally withdrawn. remaining officers and NCOs rallied and instructed by Commanding Officer to reorganise in 3 companies in the assembly trench and to dig.
About this time the 7th Lincolnshire regiment arrives and about 7am receives orders from the b=Brigade to make another attempt. This was done but had no success.
During remainder of the day Staffords and Lincolns reorganised and dug in whilst the enemy brought down a very heavy barrage on this position.
6pm – 6th Dorsets advanced in extended order over positions occupied by Staffords and Lincolns as far as the enemy wire when they had to withdraw also.
8pm – Commanding Officer received information that the enemy were preparing a heavy counter attack down the Pelves Valley. Ordered B company to attack across the valley joining up north end of high ? with lake and dig small strong posts. This was ordered in spite of casualties inflicted by enemy machine guns.
24th April 1917
4am – Battalion withdrawn to Railway Triangle being relieved by 7th Yorks.
At the end of this action the Battalion Diary reports the following;
Killed:- Captain J Foster, 2/LT S G Whitaker, 2/LT R V Cotterell, 2/LT F S Creasey
Wounded – Lieut A P Whitehead, 2/LT A E Husband, 2/LT W S Bacon, 2/LT W P Rhodes, 2/LT J A Green, 2/LT C A Scott
Wounded and missing:- 2/LT A S Bourne, 2/LT A J Browne, 2/LT J S Stephens.
Wounded on Duty:- Captain G B Langton, 2/LT T H Smith.
Other Ranks:- Killed 26, Wounded 133, Missing 58, Wounded on Duty 1
Total Casulties:- Officers 15, Other Ranks 218
Private Harry Chamberlain of the 8th Battalion South Staffordshire regiment was one of the other ranks killed or more likely missing and wonded as a result of this action.
- WW1 Soldier’s Records (www.ancestry.co.uk)
- Commonwealth War Graves Commission