Harry – the tenth




40102 Private Harry Dean      Hampshire Regiment

1889 Portsmouth, Hampshire

Lived in Landport, and Newcome Road, Fratton, Hampshire.

Killed in action before 17 October 1917 aged 28 in PalestineRemembered on the Jerusalem Memorial, Panel 26 to 29

His story

Harry Dean was born in 1889 to William Dean and Sarah Pearce, who had married in Portsea Island in 1977. William was a dockyard labourer, and when the couple first married they lived in Spring Street in Portsmouth. Harry was their third child, and by the time we can see him on the census returns, the family had moved to Bridport Street in the Landport area of Portsmouth. William was working as a general labourer, and was the sole breadwinner.

Ten years later, William was classed as ‘living on own means’, which at the age of 60 probably meant that he was no longer fit for laboring full time. The family was contributing to the household with Harry’s elder brother, Charles working as a boiler making labourer and his older sister, Sarah, working as a corset trimmer. Both Harry and little sister Kate were still at school.

Just a few weeks after the 1901 census was taken, William died, leaving Sarah with two schoolchildren to support from the wages of her two older offspring. She managed to stay in the same house, and when Harry left school, he joined his older brother working as a boiler maker’s labourer at the docks.

Harry’s service records haven’t survived, so we can’t be certain when he enlisted, but from the amount of war gratuity payment he earned he was in the army for one year. This suggests that he probably joined up in the autumn of 1916. Harry presented himself at the recruitment office in Portsmouth and was assigned to the 1st/8th Battalion of the Hampshire Regiment. This was a Territorial Force, which after being evacuated from Gallipoli in the winter of 1915, moved into Palestine as part of the Egyptian Expeditionary Force, which fought in the Middle East and Africa. Harry would have undergone his basic training in England before joining the battalion, and we have no way of knowing when he actually arrived in Palestine.

The allies had made some significant gains at the end of 1916, resulting in the recapture of substantial Egyptian territory, and then in March and April of 1917 they were defeated in the First and Second Battles of Gaza in southern Palestine. Much of the rest of 1917 was a stalemate in Palestine.

18 pounders used by the Egyptian Expeditionary Force until the end of 1917.

Generally, soldiers were more likely to survive the war in the Middle East, where battles were shorter and smaller, but mobile warfare and a hostile climate often led to acute shortages of food and water as well as a high risk of disease and the prospect of home leave was virtually non-existent.

At some point Harry was reported missing. None of the available records put a date for this, but it was officially accepted on 17 October 1917 that he was killed in action, after having previously been declared missing.

Harry had earned the British war Medal and the Victory medal for his service, and these would have been sent to his brother, William, as would his £5 war gratuity payment. Both Harry’s medal index card and the record of soldiers’ effects name his brother as next of kin. This seems to imply that Harry’s mother, Sarah had died by this time, but it has not been possible to identify a registration of death to make sure.

William was granted probate of Harry’s estate on 6 May 1920, in London. Harry’s body has never been recovered, and he is remembered on the Jerusalem Memorial, which commemorates 3,300 Commonwealth servicemen who died during the First World War in operations in Egypt or Palestine and who have no known grave.

William was still living and working in Portsmouth in 1939. His sister Kate died in Yorkshire in 1970




Acknowledgements: Image of British 18 pounder in the public domain.




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