Harry Harby - War service timeline

Bill Pinfold

Since the research done in 2020 about Harry Harby in a group photograph (see this link), new information has become available which indicates that Harry Harby was with 9th Army Corps in the Gallipoli Campaign and only joined the 35th Field Ambulance unit when he returned to Egypt, after which the recently released War Diaries for that unit in  France 1916-1919 mean that we now have a good idea about where Harry was serving and the sorts of activity he undertook.

The hierarchical structure of the British Army explains how his unit fitted into the overall structure and enabled the finding of the right War Diaries to help our research. An Army (300,000 men) consisted of Corps (60,000 men) which each comprised three or four Divisions; each Division (15-18,000 men) had three or four Infantry Brigades (3,500) in it plus Artillery, Engineers, Medical, Transport/Communications and HQ staff in support. A Brigade would comprise three Battalions (1000), each of which was made of four Companies (200), each made of four Platoons (50), each of four sections (12 men). Divisions tended to stay together but would occasionally be transferred between Army Corps as strategic needs required.

Recruitment was done by Regiments, each of which started as two Battalions but which formed more Battalions as the war continued. Thus a soldier could be in the 1st Battalion of the Leicestershire Regiment, which gave him a sense of belonging, and that unit was part of the 6th Division, whereas a colleague in the 2nd Battalion of the Leicestershires was assigned in the 7th Indian Division and fighting in a different place.

Within the British Army there were specialist Corps into which men with particular skills were deployed. They operated either as Companies within the main Army Divisions and Corps, or provided pools of resource (Companies or sometimes known as “Parks”). These included:

  • The Royal Army Medical Corps (RAMC) with medically trained staff responsible for the health, sanitation and wounded-care.
  • The Royal Engineers (RE) who built structures, ran railways and provided technologies for communications.
  • The Army Service Corps (ASC) providing transportation, catering, raw manpower and other services known as “lines of communication”.

On completion of his initial training, Harry was a Horse Transport Driver within the Army Service Corps 49th Reserve Park Company, and when needed for active duty in the British Mediterranean Expeditionary Force he was shipped to Egypt. In Alexandria, Harry was allocated to 9th  Corps Headquarters as a wagon driver and may have transported armaments, equipment or wounded. He went to Gallipoli with 9th Corps HQ in the summer of 1915 and returned to Egypt in early 1916.

Some hospital records show Harry during his time in Egypt after the Gallipoli campaign.

Harry Harby hospital register April 1916 left page

Hospital register right page

Later he was assigned to the 35th Field Ambulance (35FA), which was a Royal Army Medical Corps Company assigned to the 11th (Northern) Division. The Division had three infantry Battalions and an Artillery Battalion and three Field Ambulance Companies, the 33rd, 34th and 35th. Each Field Ambulance was largely staffed by doctors, medical orderlies and supporting ranks (stretcher bearers, cooks, engineers, etc) of the RAMC, but they had a number of ASC men assigned to them as drivers, horse and mule carers etc. Harry Harby was an ASC driver assigned to the 35th RAMC Field Ambulance. He stayed with the 35th through to the end of the War, though that unit as part of 11th Division did get assigned to different Army Corps over time.

The table below has been updated with the details of what the units in which Harry served did in Gallipoli and France.

10 Feb 1883Harry Harby born at Pickworth, Lincs. He was baptised on the 18 March at St Andrews church.
20 May 1895Harry was one of several children noted in Pickworth school log book as being “late yet again” for class.
1901Worked as a horse waggoner on a farm in Croxton Kerrial, Leics. The census listed his age as 19 though he was only 18 years and 1 month at the time. Nearby, at The Nook in the same village one of the general house servants was 23 year old Rose Taylor, originally from Easthorpe, Bottesford, Leics.
1 Jun 1903Harry Harby and Rose Taylor married at Bottesford on Monday 1 June 1903, the banns having been read over the previous three Sundays. They lived at Butcher’s Row cottages on the High Street.
14 May 1904Daughter Florence Edith Harby born at Grantham.
Before 1911Joined Great Northern Railway (GNR) as a platelayer.
16 Nov 1912Joined a union (Amalgamated Society of Railway Servants)
23 Feb 1915Enlisted at Newark at a 6th Sherwood Forresters recruiting event. Assigned to the Army Service Corps with number T4/061462.
24 Feb 1915Joined up at Bradford and started basic training.
Assigned as a horse transport driver with 49th Reserve Park, an ASC company which provided “Lines of Communication”, i.e. transport of supplies and fodder to different units.
16 Apr 1915Following a month in training and preparation at Willesden, the unit departed for the Middle East. They would anchor at Malta en route, where officers were allowed ashore briefly but other ranks and transport animals would remain on board.
27 Apr 1915Arrived Alexandria, Egypt and disembarked.
The first landings on the Gallipoli Peninsula, by British troops at Helles and by ANZAC troops at Kaba Tepe, had taken place two days before Harry arrived in Alexandria, so he did not take part in those operations. It is understood that his unit remained in Alexandria for some time, where they would have been providing general transportation services using a variety of horse drawn wagons.

At some point they would have been shipped with their horses and mules to the island of Lemnos, a key staging post on the route to Gallipoli. It is known that Harry Harby would be attached as an ASC Driver to the Headquarters staff of the 9th Army Corps, but as the 9th Corps did not arrive in Alexandria until 3rd July 1915, it is unclear exactly when Harry joined them, nor what his duties were before that date.

9th Army Corps HQ were shipped to the town of Mudros on Lemnos Island on the 9th July and other parts of the Corps also arrived from Alexandria over the following few days, setting camp either near Mudros or along the coast at Kephalos. A few battalions of infantry and artillery were then sent to Helles and ANZAC Cove as reinforcements for the existing operations, but the majority of the 9th Army Corps remained on Lemnos for some weeks.

The next step on the road towards landing on the Gallipoli Peninsula was to be shipped to the smaller island of Imbros. An officer of 9th Army Corps noted in his diary that when they were conveyed to Imbros on the SS Lake Michigan on 23rd July 1915 the ship’s accommodation was poor and smelly, largely due to the 300-400 horses and mules that were also being carried on board, along with their ASC drivers and handlers. Perhaps this is a clue as to when Harry Harby became a driver for 9th Army Corps HQ, as the units all collected together on Imbros prior to the next incursion on the peninsula.

On 6th August 1915 a new round of landings took place at Suvla Bay, north of the action already underway at ANZAC Cove. This was the main activity for 9th Corps at Gallipoli and strongly suggests that Harry Harby would have been driving wagons in the Suvla Bay battlefield support lines.

25 Sep 1915Grantham Journal reports a letter home from Harry from somewhere in the Dardanelles. See more at this link.
December 1915The Turkish forces defending the Gallipoli peninsula fought the Allied invaders to a halt on all fronts. When a freezing storm hit the ill-equipped troops in late November, causing deaths, frost-bite and sickness, it became apparent that the cause was lost. Plans were drawn up for a stealthy evacuation, which turned out to be perhaps the most successful operation of the whole campaign. Men and some equipment were withdrawn on ships back to Imbros and Lemnos whilst diversionary tactics inland meant the Turkish forces did not know about the withdrawal until it was completed.

It is impossible to say exactly which day Harry Harby was evacuated from Gallipoli as  ASC Drivers were moving troops, supplies, medical units and other resources to the departure beaches every day through December. He is likely to have departed before 19 December. Return to Egypt was via at least one stop at a Greek island, probably Imbros.

Each man had to leave with a minimum of personal belongings so, whilst it is highly likely that Harry had received postcards from home (a Post Office had been set up at Suvla Bay) there are none in his daughter Florrie’s collection from his time on Gallipoli to indicate his unit or dates.

February 1916From mid-January 1916 9th Army Corps started shipping from Imbros to Alexandria. Units of 11th Division were assigned to guard the Suez Canal and ASC companies would have been allocated to transport duties in support.

From the photograph mentioned at the top of this page it is known that Harry was with the ASC in Port Tewfiq at some point, at the southern end of the canal.

By April 1916Driver with ASC Horse Transport attached to 9th Army Corps Headquarters.
Circa 16 April 1916Attended Mustapha Reception Hospital near Alexandria. Sent on to 19th General Hospital, Alexandria.
17 April 1916Hospitalised for influenza. Cared for at 19th General Hospital for 4 days. Admission information says:
Age 33.
Length of service 1y 1m
Months with Field Force 1 (Length of time on service in Egypt)
Days under treatment 4
Received from Reception Hospital Mustapha (Mustapha is a suburb of Alexandria)
Discharged to light duties 21 April 1916 to Base Depot
May 1916A postcard from daughter Florrie dated 31 May 1916 is addressed to Harry in 35th Field Ambulance, 11th Division, so he was assigned to them some time in the previous month. This RAMC Field Ambulance unit had also served in Gallipoli and was part of the 11th (Northern) Division. In Egypt it was stationed at Sidi Beshr, a suburb of Alexandria some 325 Km north west of Port Tewfiq.
24 Jun 191635th Field Ambulance shipped out from Alexandria to France on the 24th June arriving in Marseilles and travelling on to Flers by the 4th July in support of 32nd Infantry Brigade. The 11th Division HQ staff followed on 3 days behind.
July-Dec 1916In the move to France, 11th Division was transferred to 2nd Army Corps, which had been established in the British Expeditionary Force since the very start of the War. The Division arrived in the Somme just a few days after the fateful 1st July attacks on the German lines in which so many men died. The fighting in that region continued for many months and 35th Field Ambulance supported infantry battalions in several key battles with dressing stations and evacuation lines just behind the front lines.

Taking notable mentions of 35th Field Ambulance (35FA) in the War Diary of the Asst Director of Medical Services for 11 Division, we can see that the unit Harry served in was based at the following locations (though their chain of transport of wounded men would stretch well beyond, between the front line and the Casualty Clearing hospitals)

  • Agnes les Duisans (9 Jul 16)
  • Wanquetin (14 Jul 16) (2 officers and 20 men visited an advanced dressing station at Arras to see how wounded were handled in French battlefields)
  • Arras (17 Jul 16) 35FA took over the running of Advanced Dressing Stations in Arras and also the collecting post. (11th Divn Medic HQ was then at Duisans)
  • 21 to 27 July Colonel A A Shanahan ordered 35FA to progressively take over medical arrangements and clearing all sick and wounded from the front in G, H and I sectors to the south-east of Arras. Harry Harby was one of 6 ASC drivers running 3 motor ambulances and 3 horse drawn ambulances, based at The Convent, Arras. For the next month they were ferrying wounded between 7 Regimental Aid Posts, a collecting post at Achicourt and the Main Dressing Station (MDS) at Wanquetin.
  • 19/20 August 1916 35FA were relieved in G and H sectors by 36FA and in I sector by 21st Division.
  • Billets in Lignereuil (21 Aug 16)
  • 11th Divn, including 35FA, were transferred to 2nd Corps Reserve Army . 2 Sep 1916, with 35FA moving to Arquèves.
  • 35FA Relieved 75th Field Ambulance at Varennes (7 Sept 16) to support wounded from infantry fighting in trenches around Senlis-Le-Sec.
  • On 15 Sep 1916 units of 35FA came under shell-fire in Authille Wood – 2 OR killed, 5 OR wounded.
  • On 17 Sept 1916 35FA established a new post at North Chimney in the town of Albert (2 officers and 30 OR RAMC, plus 4 motor transport ASC) in support of 3rd Canadian Infantry Division. The next day a detachment of 35FA was sent to an Advanced Dressing Station (ADS) at a quarry on the Albert-Bapaume road.
  • Further fighting around Senlis / Bouzincourt saw the officer commanding 35FA visit the front line on 22 Sept 1916 ahead of an attack on Wundt-Werk (Wonder Works) trench. He agreed the location of a new ADS and assigned 3 of the 35FA horsed ambulance wagons temporarily over to 33FA at East Clairfaye for wounded evacuation. (Harry might well have been one of the drivers on those wagons).
  • 76FA relieved 35FA on 30 Sept and by 3 Oct 1916 35FA were back at Longvillers undergoing some training. They were also dealing with some cases of German Measles and Dyptheria. Some of the RAMC officers and men received medals at this time, 2 x Military Cross, 1 x DCM and 5 x MM.
  • Whilst 35FA were resting and training in Oct/Nov 1916, the last stages of the Somme campaign were being fought. In particular some of the Allied objectives that had failed to be taken at the very start on the 1 July, were finally achieved, notably at Beaumont Hamel and the Schwaben Redoubt on 15-18 November. 35FA moved towards the front line via Berteaucourt-les-Dames (14 Nov), Rubempré (15 Nov) and Lealvillers (16 Nov). Just as severe winter weather brought all fighting in the area to a halt, 35FA took over from 19th Division all medical arrangements of the right sector of the front line, with a Main Dressing Station at Lancashire Dump and ADS’s at Thiepval and Saint-Pierre-Divion, with an Advanced Bearer Post at Midway Trench. This remained the position through the end of the year.
  • On 16 Jan 17 there was a successful attack near Engelbelmer to knock out German MG positions and install British ones. 35FA ran the main Dressing Station at Lancashire Dump plus collecting stations for walking wounded.
  • 35FA relieved in the line by Royal Naval Division FA and moved to Beauquesne. (18 Jan 1917)
  • On 20-21 Jan moved via Vacquerie to Longvillers, with 32nd Infantry Brigade.
  • 35FA covered the collection of ill and wounded for 33FA while they relocated (15 Feb 17)
  • On 23 Feb 17 35FA moved to Berneville and on 24 Feb on to the Jute Factury at Beauval. (The factory was the family business of the Saint Freres company, long established – a.k.a Saint Brothers)
  • Also on 24 Feb the 11th Division moved under the control of V Corps. Over the following weeks the numbers of wounded arriving at the dressing stations dropped noticeably as the Germans fell back to the Hindenberg Line.
  • During March some units had to close to new admissions due to an outbreak of Rose Measles.
  • On the 2 March 17 the tented section of 35FA set up at Bois Laleau.
  • All of 35FA gathered at Vauchelles-les-Authie, Rest Station, in training pending a move
  • 11 Apr 17 ordered to move to Mailly-Maillet (near Beaumont-Hamel)
  • 19-24 Apr 17 35FA relieved the 15th Australian FA and the 3rd Australian FA
  • Harry Harby had a week’s home leave from 12 May and returned to Bottesford. This may have been after news of his brother William’s death at Gavrelle on 3 May
  • 13-14 May 17 the 35FA was in turn relieved and moved to Le Sars
  • On 19 May 17 35FA Entrained at Bapaume in V Army area (Somme) and detrained 90 kilometres north in 2 Army Area (Nord department). Were based near Hazebrouk, with 11th Divn HQ at St Jans Cappel. Harry Harby returned from England on this date, sending postcards to Florrie from London and Folkestone en route. Hopefully he had received instructions to go to the Nord department and not the Somme.
  • 11th Division had been moved north to take part in the Battle of Messines. On 5 Jun 17 the 35FA were supporting the disembarkation of troops from trains at the Duke of York Sidings, just north east of Bailleul.
  • On 6 Jun 17 the Germans shelled and damaged the Duke of York sidings, so 35FA supported troops detraining at a different set of railway sidings nearer to Bailleul.
  • The battle to take Messines Ridge started on 7 Jun 17 with 35FA taking care of wounded men and conducting vaccinations of German PoWs.
  • On the 21 Jun 35FA moved to Houtkerque for training with 32 Infantry Brigade.
  • 35FA at Est Mont (13 Jul 1917)
  • 35FA took over XVIII Corps rest station on 18 Jul 17 and 11 Division returned under V Corps for administration.
  • 35FA to Lederzeele (near St Omer) (24 Jul 17). Next day they moved to Le Nouveau Mond near to Wormhout/Poperinge
  • On 29 Jul 17 35FA moved to Sint-Jan-Ter-Biezen
  • Next day 35FA moved to L’Ebbe Farm with all the motor Ambulances of 33FA, 34FA and 35FA stationed in a field up a track from Lebbe Kappel. This was in readiness for carrying wounded from the Battle of Pilkem Ridge which started on 31 Jul 17. That was the start of the 3rd Battle of Ypres, a.k.a. Passchendaele.
  • Through this period the number of wounded arriving at the FA rose noticeably. On 16 Aug 17 the Advanced Dressing Station noted congestion with 32 stretcher cases suddenly arriving. 2 Other Ranks (OR) of 35FA were killed in action and 6 OR wounded. The War Diary recorded “Number of severe shell wounds is very noticeable and the proportion of stretcher cases is much above the normal”. 9% of wounded were due to rifle and MG fire.
  • 6 OR of 35FA were wounded, though 2 of them remained in action, on 4 Oct 17 during the Battle of Broodseinde. The number of wounded arriving at the Advanced Dressing Station in 24 hours was 13 officers and 448 OR. The tramway (light railway) past the Minty Farm ADS was broken by a shell.
  • Next day, 5 Oct, 1 OR of 35FA was wounded and the battle wounded peaked with arrivals in 24 hours being 27 officers and 792 OR.
  • Subsequent days show the tail off in work for the unit. 6th October 8 officers and 216 OR; 7th October 3 officers and 109 OR; 8th October 4 officers and 75 OR.
  • Next came the Battle of Poelkappel on 9 Oct 17, fought in heavy rain. Shells hit the tramway line again, disrupting movement of the wounded. 2 OR of 35FA were killed and 1 OR wounded. Wounded arriving at the ADS were 4 officers and 215 OR.
  • On 10 Oct 17 another 2 OR of the 35FA were wounded. Arrivals at the ADS were 14 officers and 467 OR.
  • On 11 Oct 17 came some relief as 11th Division were moved away from the front, using light railways. 35FA were moved to Watten, near to St Omer.
  • 35FA at Bethune military and civilian hospital (27 Oct 17)
  • Detachment of 35FA at the I Corps officer rest station at Aire-sur-la-Lys (18 Nov 17)
  • 35FA to Fort Gatz (at Loos-en-Gohelle) (25 Nov 17)
  • 35FA to Bethune (14 Dec 17)
  • On 23 Dec 1917 at 5 p.m. German aircraft dropped 3 bombs by the French section of the military and civilian hospital at Bethune. They missed the area manned by 35FA, but most window glass in the premises was broken. 2 patients were wounded. Much of the building presumably became unusable due to the cold, so 35FA were instructed to transfer all patients to either the Casualty Clearing Station (CCS) or to the Corps rest station run by 34FA.
  • 25 Dec 17 many 35FA personnel dispersed into accommodation of 33FA (1 officer and 60 OR) and 34FA (1 officer and 24OR) with just 2 officers and 36 OR remaining at Bethune.
  • On 28 Dec the transport of 35FA was sent to 34FA at Annezin, except for one Daimler motor ambulance, one Ford motor ambulance and one General Service wagon which remained at Bethune.
  • The transport move was well advised as the hospital site had become a regular target. On 31 Dec 17 German aircraft dropped 3 more bombs on the hospital, one of which landed in the 35FA area. The General Service wagon was destroyed, the delousing chamber was badly damaged, ceilings fell down and all glass was removed from the windows.
  • Some 35FA personnel relocated to 11 Division HQ at Bracquemont (a small sub-village next to the Fosse 1 mine at Noeux-les-Mines)
  • On the 24 January 1918 the Field Ambulances of 11 Divn relieved those of 46 Divn, with 35FA taking on the Main Dressing Station (MDS) at La Bourse, near Bethune. They also ran the associated ADSs at Philosophe, Vermelles and Cambrin, plus various advanced posts.
  • During an enemy artillery action on 13 March, a shell landed directly on the building housing the ADS at Vermelles. It penetrated through to the cellar and started a fire. All the personnel escaped through windows as the main passage was blocked by debris. The only injury was 1 Other Rank (OR) of 35FA, but a motor ambulance was destroyed in the wider shelling.
  • On 21 March the ADS at Vermelles was shelled again, this time with lachrymatory gas.
  • During late March the numbers of wounded being received by the medical system increased notably with the proportion of gassed wounded being very high – this was the advent of Operation Michael, the “German Spring Offensive” which saw them gain considerable ground, though they failed to take strategically important targets such as Ypres, Arras and Amiens. Their momentum would peter out in July due to over-stretched supply lines and mounting odds as American soldiers arrived in force.
  • In early April 35FA established a new ADS named Harley Street.
  • There was intense gas shelling on the 8 April. This was a prelude to the Lys Offensive (aka 4th Battle of Ypres) which lasted for 20 days in the line between Bethune and Ypres. It saw the advent of Stormtrooper tactics by the Germans and the Field Ambulances incurred a big leap in the numbers of wounded to process. From 1 officer and 9 OR on the 7 April the count was 26 officers and 588 OR on 9 April.
  • It was 21 officers and 789 OR on the 10 April.
  • 17 officers and 406 OR on the 11th April, when 2 OR of 35FA were also wounded by gas. Another was gassed the following day, and another on 14 April.
  • On the 17 April 35FA handed over the MDS and returned to Bracquemont.
  • A gas shell burst at the officers quarters at the Vermelles ADS while several were asleep on the 18 April. 1 officer and 1 OR of 35FA were wounded.
  • 35FA ran some relay posts in the Hohenzollern sector for a few days, during which time 1 OR was gassed. They were relieved on the 25 April.
  • On the 25 April 1918, 2 OR of 35FA were wounded and 3 OR of 34FA were killed. The next day 2 OR of 35FA were gassed.
  • On the 27 April, 11 OR of the RAMC arrived for duty as replacements at the 35FA – but also 6 OR of the unit were injured by German gas shells.
  • One officer and 6 OR of 35FA were wounded by drifting gas due to one of the Army’s own gas cylinders being hit by an enemy trench mortar shell. 2 OR were also wounded by shell gas.
  • The Asst Director of Medical Services for 11 Divn met the 9th Light Railway Company on the 13 May to inspect new ambulance rail trucks converted from D class light railway wagons. 1 OR of 35FA was killed.
  • On the 19 May the transport lines of 35FA moved to the outskirts of Bracquemont village due to enemy shelling.
  • 3 OR 35FA were wounded on 20 May.
  • 35FA moved to Mazingarbe and ran a walking wounded post and a site at Coupigny (22 May 1918)
  • 35FA were put on readiness to move rapidly to Fosse 2, including all wheeled stretchers, if they received the code word “Hustle” (23 May). All motor and horse transport would report to 33FA.
  • On the 4 June, 3 OR of 35FA were wounded.
  • On the 9 June, 1 OR (ASC) was wounded but stayed on duty (ASC, i.e. a driver)
  • On the 16 June, 1 OR (RAMC) was wounded.
  • During June the last real attacks by the German army took place well to the south of Arras, before they ran out of steam in July.
  • July was very quiet for 35FA
  • On the 23 August 35FA moved to a new area, Chelers , north-west of Arras. This was part of a general move by 11 Division to Arras as their part in the “Hundred Days Offensive” which ran from the 8 August through to the Armistice on the 11 November. Having been stuck in a narrow band of trenches for the past 4 years, the Division would find themselves advancing eastwards a kilometre very few days – and in due course, by 5 kilometres each day. And the Field Ambulances had to keep up with the pace.
  • 35FA forming a new ADS at Saint-Laurent-Blangy (the eastern edge of Arras city) (29 Aug 1918)
  • The MDS was at Rue des Porteurs in central Arras. 35FA running outposts at Feuchy, Athies and Monchy-le-Preux and setting up a new ADS at Boiry-Notre-Dame, 10 Km east of Blangy (31 Aug 1918)
  • 35FA improved the ADS with elephant shelters (metal framed tents) strengthened with concrete (4 Sep 1918)
  • 35FA were relieved in the line by 10FA. (18 Sep)
  • 35FA returned to Chelers (19 Sep)
  • Transport section of 35FA moved to Berneville (23 Sep)
  • They moved to Vis-en-Artois and part of 35FA moved even further east to Ocean Works, a German stronghold just south of Haucort that had been captured by the Canadians a couple of weeks previously.
  • 1 OR killed and 2 OR wounded of 35FA (27 Sep)
  • 35FA bearer and ADS units relinked at Cagnicourt and moved the ADS from Boiry-Notre-Dame to Chapel Corner. 2 OR of 35FA were wounded.(28 Sep)
  •  A light railway was built connecting the ADS with the MDS in central Arras. On the 29 Sep the Transport units of 35FA moved to Cagnicourt.
  • From 1 to 3 October supported an offensive by the 1st Canadian Division. Ambulance convoys were arranged to bring wounded back from the front line in significant numbers.
  • 2 OR of 35FA were wounded and evacuated.
  • On the 10 October 35FA closed the Chapel Corner ADS and supported work of 33 and 34FAs for a few days.
  • 35FA ordered to clear up and purpose a site at Cambrai for a CCS (18 Oct 1918)
  • On 19 Oct 35FA moved to the new CCS site and Divn Rest Station at Cambrai.
  • On 20 Oct 35FA moved to Thun-Saint-Martin.(Now 55 Km east of Arras)
  • By 25 Oct 35FA were 10Km further east at the Ecole Normale in Haspres.
  • On the 3 November 35FA moved to the brewery at Verchain to form a new MDS.
  • The very next day they packed up the MDS and moved it to Artres, 70 Km from Arras.
  • On the 5 November units of 35FA moved to the Mairie at Curgies to set up an ADS and prepare the site for an MDS.
  • On the 6 November the MDS was opened at Curgies and the ADS moved eastwards to Le Triez, 80 Km from Arras.
  • On the 7 November 35FA moved into Belgium, taking over the site of the Bosch Hospital at Roisin and moving the ADS from Le Triez there, plus an MDS and a dispensary.
  • The War Diary notes on 9 November that transport was difficult due to traffic volume, the poor road conditions and blown-up bridges. Some crashes were also reported. (The advance had outrun the scope of light railways by this time).
  • One section of 35FA along with the ADMS HQ moved to Aulnois. They took over a large house (ex-school) next to a convent and prepared to set up the MDS. An ADS was established at nearby Quevy-le-Grand (now almost 100 Km from Arras).(10 Nov 1918)
  • On the date the War ended (11am on 11 Nov 1918) Harry was most certainly at the school (Main Dressing Station) next to the convent at Aulnois, to hear the commanding officer of 35FA announce the Armistice to the unit. See also below.
  • Through December and into early 1919 the Field Ambulances took medical care of the tens of thousands of troops as they managed the new peace and started to return to their home countries.
16 Mar 1919Harry Harby was selected for demobilisation. 35FA were running a medical inspection room and retention ward (MIR) at St Saint-Amand-les-Eaux in France. He would have had a medical inspection and then departed for England.
13 Apr 1919Harry Harby transferred to Army Reserves at Woolwich Dockyard.
15 Apr 1919Demobilised at Harrowby Camp, Grantham. Reserve Serial number 98569. At last Harry could go home permanently to Bottesford.
After the War, Harry was tested for shell shock that he was said to have suffered during 1918, but there was no supporting documentary evidence. He was also tested for a rodent ulcer which may have reduced his sight in one eye but it was deemed due to an illness and not caused during army service.
VariousListed each year on the Electoral Roll, living at High Street, Bottesford with wife Rose.
27 Feb 1948Took a superannuation payment of £30 from the union – hopefully so he could retire.
1950Listed in the General Membership Register of the Amalgamated Society of Railway Servants (i.e. his union)
23 Sep 1950Died at home.
6 Oct 1950The union made a payment of £5, presumably to Rose in respect of Harry’s death.

The First World War ended at 11 am on the 11th November 1918. The unit war diary records that 35 Field Ambulance were then at the village of Aulnois, near to Quevy-le-Grand, just across the border in Belgium. They had taken over a large school building, located beside an even larger convent, just the day before and were preparing to establish it as a main dressing station.

35FA dressing station 11 Nov 1918

35FA location on 11 Nov 1918, re Harry Harby

This postcard shows the white school house some time before the War. The convent shown to the right has long since been demolished, but the school building still exists and is now converted to apartments.

As one of the ASC drivers for the 35FA it is pretty certain that Harry Harby would have been at Aulnois on that day, to hear the unit commanding officer announce the end of hostilities.



As happened to many of the soldiers who served in the Middle East , Harry suffered from dysentery at times and his family believed this affected his health later in life.

Union membership register left page

Union membership right page. The positioning in the third column from the right suggests Harry stopped working due to an accident at work.

This page was added on 28/09/2023.

No Comments

Start the ball rolling by posting a comment on this page!

Add a comment about this page

Your email address will not be published.