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He was the son of Walter Palmer and Elizabeth Allen Hayes of 'Somerby' Chester Road Grappenhall Warrington and the husband of Mabel Hayes of 'Rippon House' Seymour Raod West Bridgford Nottingham. Born in Leicestershire and after an early childhood near Weymouth in Dorset, Harry Hayes was educated at West Bridgford High School and University College Nottingham where he enrolled in the OTC. When he enlisted on March 1st 1915, Hayes’s father, by then living near Warrington, was employed as a munitions contractor.
He was employed as a teacher of art and humanities at Acourt Street Technical Centre in Nottingham.
31 Jul 1917
1613437 - CWGC Website
Second Lieutenant
17th Bn Royal Welsh Fusiliers
Initially, Hayes seemed content to serve as a private in 24th Royal Fusiliers, deploying to France on November 28th 1915. Following a period of quiet initiation (New Year’s Day was devoted to company football matches), Hayes’s draft was soon introduced to the realities of trench warfare. On January 27th, in action near Festubert, an enemy rifle grenade killed three men and a further ten (5 KIA, 3 wounded and 2 missing) were hit during the battalion’s first patrol. Near Bellerieve, 24th RF faced the routine dangers of front line existence; ‘parapets are thin and loop holed and in nearly every case the thickness above the loop hole is about 1 sandbag so not bullet proof’ observed their war diarist in late February and ‘enemy again troublesome with rifle grenades’ on March 6th. Snipers were a constant threat in late March and on April 12th, the “enemy whiz banged us probably in retaliation for our bombing the night before.’ On May 16th1916, Hayes was accepted for OTC training in England en route for a commission but he was to serve three more months at the Front with 24th RF. In July, the battalion was in trenches near Carency where the fighting was subdued and casualties light but in August the unit was pitched, as part of 5th Brigade 2nd Division, into one of the bloodiest episodes of the Somme campaign. According to Peter Liddle, ‘in the grim litany of the Somme’s savagery of sustained attack and counter attack, Delville Wood stands unenviably pre-eminent.’ Supported by a massive artillery barrage, 5th Brigade, including 24th R.F., attacked Delville Wood on July 27th as part of an initially successful infantry operation. However, the brigade was immediately subjected to a heavy German bombardment and counter- attack and sustained seventy per cent casualties. The wood changed hands several times before being secured by British units on September 3rd during the Battle of Guillemont. Having survived the hell of Delville Wood, Hayes embarked for England on August 11th. Harry Hayes began officer training in the late summer of 1916 and, on December 18th, was Gazetted 2nd Lieutenant to 17th Royal Welsh Fusiliers. This unit had been deployed to assault and clear Mametz Wood on July 7th 1916 as part of a brigade (115th Welsh) sustaining such heavy casualties that it was not thereafter returned to major action until July 31st1917 the opening day of the 3rd Battle of Ypres. Usually referred to by a name long synonymous with Great War battlefield wastage, the aim of the Passchendaele offensive was to begin a push north east to free the German occupied ports on the Belgian coast. However, only five miles of ground were gained in three months at a cost of 300,000 allied lives. Following a fifteen day allied artillery barrage of over four million shells, the attack began at 03.50 in the heavy rain which was to hamper most of the campaign (the last British survivor Harry Patch characterised it as ‘mud, mud, and more mud mixed together with blood’). Most first day objectives were achieved with Gough’s forces capturing eighteen square miles, including two defensive positions on the left and a certain amount of high ground along Pilkhelm Ridge, but at a cost of 15,000 casualties which had risen to 31,810 (with 12 VCs won) by August 2nd. At 9pm on July 30th, 17th Royal Welsh Fusiliers de-camped and moved forward. On 31st July, Hayes’ unit left assembly trenches at zero plus one hour with ‘C’ Coy on the right and ‘D’ Coy on the left in the leading waves whilst ‘B’ Coy, in support and ‘A’ Coy, acting as carriers, were in the rear. ‘Battalion to Steenbeek’ (its objective) 17th’s war diarist tersely recorded but no economy of language could disguise the cost of success. The battalion’s sustained 340 casualties on 31st July (324 o/rs, 16 officers) including Harry Hayes who had survived eight months in the ranks but perished on his first operation with command responsibilities. The full impact of Hayes’ death in action and, indeed, the tragedy of a whole generation were encapsulated in a notice posted locally two weeks later: ‘Hayes, J.H. (Harry), Lt. Royal Welsh Fusiliers Aged 28. Killed in action. Former teacher in this city. Beloved husband of Mabel and dear eldest son to Walter and Elizabeth of Warrington. Will never be forgotten.'
Remembered on


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  • 'Rippon House' the home of Harry and Mabel Hayes.
    Photo David Nunn - 'Rippon House' the home of Harry and Mabel Hayes.