Man wounded twice in war killed during IRA ‘ambush’

Harold Clayton

Man wounded twice in war killed during IRA ‘ambush’

First published in News
Last updated

Keighley teenager Harold Clayton survived four years of war only to be killed a short time later by the IRA.

During his service, Harold, who enlisted six days after the war started, had been wounded twice and gassed once.

As the First World War went on, he had risen through the ranks, and at the time of his death was a lieutenant.

Harold’s story has been painstakingly researched by Alison Rogers, his granddaughter.

Harold was born in 1896, and at the age of 17 was working as a moulder while living with his railwayman father, Samuel, in Oakworth Terrace.

The Holycroft School student signed up on August 11, 1914, and by the following January had been posted to France with the Duke of Wellington’s Regiment.

Harold sustained a wound in April 1915 during his battalion’s costly attack amongst the craters of Hill 60, near Ypres.

He returned to England to recover, and on being posted back to France he was appointed a lance corporal.

Harold was wounded again in October of the following year during his battalion’s attack near Le Transloy on the Somme.

He again recovered, and was back in France in summer 1917, falling victim to a gas attack only a few days later.

He was promoted to corporal in early 1918, then lance-sergeant, then sergeant – all within just two months – then applied to train as an officer.

Amazingly, despite his years of experience in France, the commanding officer suggested Harold’s commission be delayed “until he had served again in a fighting unit”.

Common sense prevailed, however, and Harold spent several months training – pausing only to marry Eleanor Graham Hide at Cullercoates – before receiving his commission in March 1919.

By early 1921, Harold was serving in Ireland in a support unit for the Royal Irish Constabulary. But he was killed in an IRA ambush on February 2.

The North Shields News reported that, following the ‘Sinn Fein outrage’, Harold was buried with full military honours.

His coffin was carried on an 18-pounder gun carriage and was draped with the Union Flag, and the funeral parade included a military band and a firing party of 40 men from the Durham Light Infantry and Northumberland Fusiliers.

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