Harry – the eleventh


200268 Sergeant Harry Dean   Cheshire Regiment  

Born 1895 in Wallasey, Cheshire

Lived at Liscard and Seacombe, Cheshire

Killed in action 6 November 1917 aged 22 in Egypt

Remembered on the Jerusalem Memorial, Panel 19

His story

Harry Dean was the third son of Philip Dean and Elizabeth Davies, who had married in Birkenhead in 1883. Philip was a market gardener, and the family lived at 7 St Mary’s Street, Liscard, Wallasey in 1901, which was the first time that Harry shows on the census return.

Ten years later, the family was living at 20 Winterhey Avenue in Seacombe. Harry had left school and was working in the office of a liquor bottling plant. Philip was still working as a gardener, by this time at the local fever hospital. With four incomes coming into the household, finances must have been a little easier for the family at this time.

Like so many others, Harry’s service records haven’t survived, but using the amount of war gratuity payment as a guide, it seems that Harry enlisted right at the beginning of the war. It seems the men of the family were keen to do their bit – Harry’s younger brother, Frank enlisted in the spring of 1915, aged 18 but claiming to be 20. This could well be to make sure that he would be considered old enough to serve overseas. If Harry enlisted in August 1914, he would have been just about 19 at the time.

Harry enlisted in the Cheshire Regiment, assigned service number 1615 and prepared to serve in the 1st/4th Battalion, a Territorial Force. The battalion was in Birkenhead at the outbreak of war when it was moved to Shrewsbury and Church Stretton, but by the end of August was in Northampton. There was another move in December to Cambridge, and by March 1915 the battalion was in Bedford. Part of the 159th Brigade, 53rd (Welsh) Division, the battalion sailed in July 1915 from Devonport, sailing via Alexandria to Gallipoli and landing on 9 August 1915. Harry Dean was with the battalion as it made that trip.

The stay in Gallipoli was to be brief, like many other battalions, 1st/4th was withdrawn and moved to Egypt. The winter weather had been appalling, and both sides suffered badly from the effects of flood and cold.

Harry clearly did well in his army life, progressing to Lance Corporal, Corporal and eventually Acting Sergeant.

The battalion was involved in all three Battles of Gaza in 1917 and the Battle of Beersheba on 31 October.

There were 47,500 rifles in the XX Corps, which included the 53rd Division, and about 15,000 troopers in the Desert Mounted Corps, preparing for the attack on Beersheba.

After a short, but fierce battle they won a tactical victory, forcing the Ottoman garrison at Beersheba to withdraw.


Beersheba in 1917


Fighting continued into November, with the Egyptian Expeditionary Force planning to break the Ottoman line at Hareira and Sheria, the battle for those towns beginning on 6 November.

Caterpillar tractor transporting ammunition  

It was on this day that Acting Sergeant Harry Dean was killed in action. On 7 November it was discovered that the Ottoman defenders had evacuated Gaza, and both Hareira and Sheria were captured on the same day.

Harry’s body has never been recovered, and he is remembered alongside many comrades (including his namesake from the Hampshire regiment) on the Jerusalem Memorial. For his service to his country he was awarded the 1915 Star, the British War Medal and the Victory Medal, which would have been issued to his mother, Elizabeth, as was his war gratuity payment of £18.



Acknowledgments:   Images of Beersheba 1917 in the public domain




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