27089 Private JAMES HARDING.

18th Battalion, Durham Light Infantry.

Killed in action, aged 31, on the 3rd of May 1917.

Born at Skelton in Cleveland and enlisted at Richmond, N Yorks.

Son of Frank and Mary Harding of 25 Dixon St, Skelton, N Yorkshire.

The Arras Memorial,

1901, James, age 15, is living at 25 Dixon St and had been born in Skelton.
His father, Francis, age 41, worked in the Ironstone mines, and had been born at Hutton Le Hole, N Yorks.
His mother, Mary, age 38, had been born in Skelton. She had had 9 children and 8 were still living in 1911.
His brother William, aged 7 at that time, was to be killed in the First War on the 16th August 1917 in the fighting around Ypres. [see separate entry.]
He had another brother, Frances 3, and five sisters - Jane 13, Annie11, Ada 9, Mary 5 and Lena 1. all born in Skelton.

1911. The family are still at 25 Dixon St and James, now 25 is working in the Ironstone Mines. William is living elsewhere.

James' attestation form below shows that he was an early Volunteer for the war, enlisting on the 18th May 1915 at Richmond, N Yorks at the age of 29 yrs 7 mths.
His medal card shows that he was in Egypt on the 30th December 1915 and his service record that he served with his Battalion on the Somme in 1916 prior to his death.
While fighting on the Somme on the 18th July 1916, he suffered a gunshot wound to the forearm and was sent back via a Casualty Station for treatment at a base Hospital at Etaples, south of Boulogne. He returned to duty with his Battalion on the 30th July.
Again on the 26th September he was wounded in the arm and was treated at a Casualty Station, before returning to duty in October.
In December 1916 he must have celebrated Christmas too well for on Boxing Day he was absent from duty and put on a charge.
Absence was a serious offence and in some circumstances could be termed desertion and be a capital offence.
He was sentenced to 10 days Field Punishment No 1 and the loss of a day's pay.
Some Units had carried out this punishment, which involved being tied to a fixed outside object for 2 to 3 hours per day, too severely and the War Office issued instructions for how it was to be carried out:-
....the soldier must be attached so as to be standing firmly on his feet, which if tied, must
not be more than twelve inches apart, and it must be possible for him to move each foot at least three inches.
If he is tied round the body there must be no restriction of his breathing. If his arms or wrists are tied, there must be six inches of play between them and the fixed object. His arms must hang either by the side of his body or behind his back.

The 8th (Service) Battalion (1st County) were formed in County of Durham on 10 September 1914, by Col. R.Burdon and a committee.
In May 1915 it was attached to 93rd Brigade, 31st Division.
In December 1915 the Division took over No 3 Sector of the Suez Canal defences and in March 1916 sailed to France, where it fought in the Battle of Albert and the Battle of the Ancre, which were stages in the Somme offensive.
In 1917 after operations on the Ancre, just North of the Somme, the Division fought in the Arras offensive.
The British attacked East of Arras from April 9th to May 16th against the formidable Hindenberg Line, to which the Germans had made a strategic withdrawal earlier in the year.
This operation was part of a larger plan by the French General Nivelle who attacked further South on the Aisne at the same time, with tragic results for the French Infantry, who afterwards staged a partial mutiny.
A great many men were killed and wounded in the British advance, more on average per day than on the Somme.
General Haig wrote later that Arras was purely a diversion, as his main objective was to advance at Ypres in the offensive that he would launch in July.
On the day James was killed his Battalion were attacking the German trenches.

James is commemorated on the Arras Memorial, which records almost 35,000 servicemen from the United Kingdom, South Africa and New Zealand who died in the Arras sector between the spring of 1916 and 7 August 1918 and have no known grave.

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