Pte 15/436 West Yorkshire Regiment, Prince of Wales Own. 15th Battalion, Leeds Pals
Harold Hartley was born on 6th March 1892 in Leeds, the son of Osmond Hartley, who had married Amelia Gaunt in March 1878, also in Leeds.
He had three older brothers, Herbert, Fred and Frank, and a younger half-sister, Olive Amelia, born in 1902. Amelia Gaunt had died in 1899, and Osmond married her sister Mary Ellen in March 1900. (Free BMD website)
When Harold was born the family was living at 3 Fallowfield Avenue, but by the 1901 Census they had moved to 4 Eldon Terrace, in NW Leeds. Osmond was given as a paper-bag manufacturer, but in fact he was the owner of the well-known firm of Osmond and Son, and when he was older Harold went to work in the family mill. (Census records)
By the 1911 Census they had moved again, to Middleton House, Victoria Road, Headingley, where the family became deeply involved with the local Methodist church, a connection Harold maintained for the rest of his life.
He would appear from his number to have been one of the early Pals volunteers, in 1914, but his service record is missing. He was obviously a sportsman as he was in the 1st heat of the semi-final of the 100 yards flat race on 12th May 1915, along with Alan Hey. (Programme reproduced in Milner)
He was sent to Egypt and arrived on 22nd December 1915, and in March of 1916 he would have gone with the battalion to France. (Medal Card)
In January 1917 Harold married Hilda Patchett, and on 7th November 1918 they had a son, Hildred Leslie. But sadly Hilda died of complications ten days later, and Hildred ten days after that. (Free BMD website)
Harold himself came very close to death not long before that. On October 20th 1918, just 22 days before the war would end, he was going up the line to meet an officer when a shell burst close to him, showering him with shrapnel and cutting his clothing and equipment to pieces. Even razor-blades in his kitbag were splintered. But Harold was not even scratched. Ten days later he happened to look at the bible his mother had given him, which had been in his haversack, and embedded in it was a shell splinter, large enough to have done him serious if not fatal damage. It had stopped at a page in Leviticus, and had marked Chapter 26, verses 6-8, which began with the words, ‘And I will give peace in the land’. (Newspaper cutting)
He is listed on the Absent Voters as having a home address in Elmwood Lane, but also 113 Victoria Road. Also listed for Elmwood Lane are Herbert, of 37 Dorset Mount, and Frank, of 1 Broomfield Road. (Leeds Absent Voters’ List)
He was married again, on 14th July 1926, to Victoria Lucy Todd, and they had three children, Margaret, Barbara and David. He lived a long and happy life, dying on 11th July 1965 at the age of 73.
Lucy and Harold c.1960 courtesy of Peter Wright
Researcher: Peter Taylor
Additional information provided by Peter Wright, grandson of Harold Hartley.
- All opinions and inferences are the researcher’s own.
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