Harold Spencer


Private, 142882 66th Battalion Machine Gun Corps (Formerly 26689 East Lancs.)
Lived 84 Burnley Road Dunockshaw, near Burnley.
Killed in action 29th March 1918.
Commemorated Pozieres Memorial, France.

Harold was born in 1892 to John and Agnes Spencer of 84 Burnley Road Dunnockshaw near to Loveclough. His Fathers occupation was a Cotton Weaver and he was also a former President of the Loveclough Co-operative Society. The Spencer’s had eight children in total, seven sons and one girl, two sons dying in infancy. Of the surviving five sons four were to serve King and Country, William the Eldest also a weaver, was with the Royal Artillery in France, Norris third eldest was with the Motor Transport section of the Royal Engineers whilst Frank who joined the Navy in February 1915 was posted on the North Sea.

It was with the East Lancashire regiment  that Harold enlisted at Rawtenstall in March 1916 and subsequently transferred to B Coy of the 66th Battalion Machine Gun Corps where he saw much fighting in the Somme district and Vimy Ridge. In June 1917 he was wounded in the thigh and was evacuated to the Military Hospital at Exeter returning to active service in October 1917. On the 20th of March 1918 (the day before the German spring offensive) Harold met his elder brother Michael near St Quentin and spent a couple of hours in his company, probably talking over old times, but this would be the last time they would meet.

Harold Spencer was killed in action on the 29th of March 1918 aged 25, just nine days after the chance meeting with Michael. Contact was made with the Red Cross to see if he was a prisoner of war but to no avail.

Harold has no known grave but is commemorated on the Poziers memorial to the missing in Poziers British Cemetery on the Somme which is located on the West side of the main Albert to Bapaume road the D929.

In 1916 it was known as Tramway Crossing or Red Cross Corner, a place for field ambulances to bring their dead from the battlefields around there. The Cemetery was designed by W.H.Cowlishaw, being dedicated in 1932 and including the memorial to the missing in the form of panels for each regiment, and relates to the crisis period of march and April 1918 when the Allied fifth Army was driven back over the Somme Battlefields so dearly won. Harold is commemorated on Panels 90 to 93.

The Poziers Memorial

Being part of the Fifth Army the 66th faced the onslaught of the German offensive of March 21st 1918, and held the line at Carpeza Copse near the village of Hesbecourt, east of Peronne, where they were at the forward edge of the Battle zone. The 66th Battalion held their front line but with very heavy losses, over 700 killed on the first day, and were pushed back beyond Peronne.

The picture below is of a section of the Machine Gun Corps Panel  at Poziers, containing Harold Spencers name, and the name of Pte Percival Allen Storr, Percival was a Burnley lad, killed on the same day as Harold serving in the same Machine gun Battalion and probably knew each other well, if not part of the same gun team.

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