RFA West Lancs Bdes
681768 BDR. H. JESSOP. R.F.A.
Harry Jessop was born in Wakefield in September 1897 and baptised at Thornes St James with Christ Church on 3 October. His father was William Thomas Jessop (b. 1869 in Hull), a publican. His mother was Maria Thompson (b. 1870 in Horbury, near Wakefield). William and Maria were married in Halifax in 1891 and they had five children, but one died young. The survivors were: Edith (b. 1892), then Harry, Louisa (b. 1901), and George (b. 1904). The Jessops moved from Halifax to Wakefield in the mid-1890s, then to Manchester at the turn of the century, but by 1911 they had settled in West Derby, where William was owner of the Sefton Arms Hotel. His wife, Maria and daughter Edith helped run the pub; the other children were still at school. William, Harry’s father, died in 1912.
Harry had just turned 18 when War broke out. He enlisted in the Royal Field Artillery and was assigned service number 712 and posted to “D” Battery of 276 Brigade which formed part of 55th (West Lancashire) Division. His service number was later changed to 681768. At some point Harry was promoted to Bombardier.
55th (West Lancashire) Division fought at Guillemont and Ginchy (on the Somme) in September 1916, suffering severe losses especially at Guillemont. They also fought at Flers-Courcelette and Morval later that month, and then in October 1916 they were moved to the Ypres Salient, at the time a relatively quieter part of the front. Although there were no major engagements in early 1917, there was constant harassment, shelling and raids.
1917: Third Battle of Ypres
From 55th Divisional History: "The objective of what was called the Third Battle of Ypres was the capture of the enemy's Gheluvelt-Langemark system... The weather during the whole of June and during the greater part of July had been ideal for campaigning purposes. Unfortunately, on Sunday 29 July a particularly heavy thunderstorm filled up the shell holes and turned roads and tracks into a morass. The succeeding days were dull and hazy, making the completion of the artillery preparation peculiarly difficult and typical Flanders weather conditions prevailed on the morning of the 31st - the moment chosen for the attack. Low lying clouds which made aerial observation and cooperation as difficult as could be imagined; a dampness of atmosphere, threatening rain at any moment; a half sodden ground, greasy and depressing; such was the luck of the weather at 3.50am on 31 July 1917, when the barrage opened. Not since the war began had so intense a barrage been put down, and of its wonderful effectiveness all ranks in the line bore eloquent testimony."
Harry Jessop was killed on the opening day of the battle. He was 19 years old.
Service No: 681768
Date of Death: 31/07/1917
Regiment/Service: Royal Field Artillery, “D” Bty, 276th Bde.
Grave Reference: III. K. 10.
Cemetery: WHITE HOUSE CEMETERY, ST. JEAN-LES-YPRES
Additional Information: Son of Mrs. M. Clayton (formerly Jessop), of 21 Sandon Street, Falkner Square, Liverpool. Native of Wakefield.