Barrow’s War Memorial was unveiled on Sunday 22nd May 1921 by Lt.-Col. R.E. Martin
C.M.G. and dedicated by the Rev’d Thomas Stone. During the war, serving soldiers
and sailors from the village and those who had lost their lives were remembered in
the War Shrine at the corner of the Vicarage Garden in Church Street and dedicated by
the Bishop of Peterborough on June 14th 1917. Two vases were supplied for local people
to add flowers. The shrine initially held 350 names of whom 32 had been killed but
names continued to be added, so that by the end of 1919 there were 406.
The Parish War Memorial was first mentioned in the Holy Trinity Parish Magazine, from which the information for this article was obtained, in the November 1919 edition which merely stated that a meeting to discuss the matter was to be held in the near future. However, even at this stage £257, had kick-started the fundraising effort. This was money remaining from the Peace Celebration Fund; the Soldiers’ and Sailors’ Comforts Fund; and over £200 from the Prisoners of War Fund. Part of the garden adjoining Industry Square was purchased for the erection of a cross. Mr W.D. Caröe was commissioned to design a memorial. He had previously designed a stained-glass window memorial in Holy Trinity Church for the Cresswell family who had lost a son in the conflict.
Members of the ex-servicemen’s association offered to head the appeal for funds. The cost, including purchase of the land, was £700 of which £600 had already been raised (the final cost was around £800).
The date chosen for the unveiling, May 22nd being Trinity Sunday, was also the Festival of the Dedication of the village’s own Holy Trinity Church. Some 2000 people gathered for the ceremony with 200 ex-service men under the command of Capt. C.E. Huston drawn up in line behind the Memorial.
Singing was led by the Barrow Silver Prize Band and the ministers of the Baptist, Primitive Methodist and Wesleyan churches stood beside Rev’d Stone.
As part of his address Colonel Martin said that the Memorial had been erected as a common effort of the people of Barrow in token of their gratitude and reverence to the memory of those who fell. He urged that it be treated in the future with the same reverence they felt that day and that the children now growing up should regard it as their pride and privilege to protect it, so that it stood unimpaired for generations to come as a sign that the people of Barrow were not unmindful of the sacrifice made by their fellows.
By this time, there were 71 names on the Roll of Honour, all which were read and honoured by Mr J.T. Ball, Chairman of the Memorial Committee and the “Last Post” and “Réveillé” were sounded by ex-Sergt. Trumpeter W. Iliffe. The proceedings closed with the national anthem. The first wreath, from the Ex-Service Men’s Association, was placed by ex-Private George James who was blinded at Fontaine while serving with the 6th Leicesters’. He was conducted to the Memorial by Capt. A. Witham M.C. and Lieut. C. Thompson M.C. both of whom were promoted from the ranks for their gallantry in the field. Lieutenant Thompson’s daughter, Mary Payne, who lived in Mill Lane, for many years read the Roll of Honour at the Remembrance Sunday service at Holy Trinity Church.
21283 Private Harry Archer, of 9th Battalion the Leicestershire Regiment
Killed in action 14th July 1916, Battle of Bazentin, the Somme. Commemorated in France. ...Harry Archer, born in 1889 in Barrow upon Soar, was one of seven children born to Henry, a framework knitter (born 1852 in Owthorpe, Nottinghamshire) and Elizabeth (born 1859 in Basford, Nottinghamshire). He was baptised in Holy Trinity church on 25th August, 1889.
In 1891 the family lived in one of the cottages at South End in Barrow, but they later moved to ‘Nook Cottage’ or ‘Nook Lane’ (both addresses have been listed); but by April 1911 Harry, also a framework knitter by now, was living in New Street with his older, married sister Henrietta Flude.
Harry enlisted into the regular army on 4th October 1915. He was 26 years old and unmarried. Now he gave his occupation as artificial stone finisher and was deemed to be in fair health.
The War Diary entry for the 14th July 1916 records that Harry’s battalion moved off at 12.15am from Fricourt to the southern edge of Mametz Wood. He had exchanged the sounds of a knitting machine for the sound of artillery as they came under heavy shelling for three hours and were not able to reach their reserve position, 500 yards west of the front edge of the wood until 3.20am. They arrived just as an intense bombardment of German trenches began. Two hours later as dawn was breaking, at 5.20am, ‘B’ Company (under the command of Captain Anderson) and one platoon from ‘A’ Company moved to reinforce the 6th Leicestershire regiment holed up in Bazentin-le-Petit Wood. When they finally reached north of the wood, they dug themselves in as much as possible along with soldiers from 6th, 7th and 8th Leicestershire regiments, but suffered heavy casualties across the ranks and across the regiments.
By 6am, it was daylight and those still alive in ‘A’ company moved towards the German first line trench. At 8.15am the north western and western edge of the wood was being heavily shelled and within half an hour ‘D’ company (under the command of Lt Nolan) were directed to clear the wood and dig in on the edge. There followed three hours of heavy opposition – imagine the thunderous noise, the chaos, the fear, as heavy shelling meant they were unable to clear the wood. All around Harry, people were falling. Lt Nolan was killed; Lt De Lisle and Lt Smith were wounded. Two platoons were sent from headquarters to help reinforcements.
Success, of sorts, came at 12.00 noon when two enemy officers and thirty men were captured by ‘D’ Company. During the afternoon and into the evening all men were ordered to the north western edge of the wood. About 50 Leicestershire men, with the support of 100 soldiers from the 1st East Yorkshire Regiments advanced on the enemy. Captain Emmett, with 40 men reached the north western edge of the wood and attempted to charge German trenches about 50 yards ahead. They killed four German observers but then Captain Emmett along 36 men were themselves killed by machine gun fire.
At the same time as this battle was happening, Lt Col Haig with the 1st East Yorkshire Regiment and a handful of soldiers from the Leicestershire 9th reached the railway line and came under gun machine attack. Was Private Harry Archer part of this foray? We don’t know but a Lt Stephens is recorded as being killed. The edge of the wood, close to the village of Bazentin-le-Petit, was cleared but the soldiers came under heavy sniping fire. Lt Hinckley was wounded and most of his men were killed or wounded.
By 7pm on the day of 14th July – a day which had started for the men at 12.15am – all posts started consolidating their positions. Patrols were continually attacked. Our days may have ended by 7pm, but heavy shelling and enemy rifle fire continued until 11pm.
We don’t know exactly how or when Private Harry Archer died that day; but the 100-year commemoration of Barrow upon Soar’s war memorial honours men like framework knitter, Harry Archer: one of 886,000 soldiers killed in the First World War.
Karisa Krcmar from Michael Doyle’s Their Name Liveth For Evermore: The Great War Roll of Honour for Leicestershire and Rutland .