War Memorials in Sowerby, North Yorkshire

John Hardy

1890/91 - 1st July 1916 (age 25)

Private 21416
2nd Bn. West Yorkshire Regiment (Prince of Wales's Own)

Thomas Hardy of Durham married Louisa Gotts of Northallerton in 1883 and they set up home at 27 Raby St, Middlesbrough where their son John was born four months before the 1891 census. By the census of 1901 circumstances had changed when John Hardy and his younger brother Sam are found residing with their maternal Grandmother, Louisa Gotts, at Piper Lane, Thirsk, while there is no record of their parents. In later years, their mother is shown as living in Leeds, but it seems likely that Thomas Hardy had died while the two boys were young. In 1911, John, now aged 20 was living in Sowerby with his aunt and uncle, Arthur and Mary Harland, while Sam, a 16 year old NER railway engine cleaner was at Middlesbrough with another aunt and uncle.

John enlisted with the Princess of Wales West Yorkshire 2nd Bn. and arrived in France on 9th December 1915. He was killed in action along with almost 20,000 other Commonwealth soldiers on 1st July 1916 on the first day of the Battle of the Somme. On that day, the 2nd West Yorkshires were in support of the Devons and Middlesex and in that capacity they went over the top after the initial attack. They had to advance across a shallow vale know as "Mash Valley" - so named because an enemy observation balloon in the shape of a sausage had previously existed above the neighbouring valley which had been dubbed "Sausage Valley". The men attacked over the top from a supporting trench known as "Ryecroft Street" and it was estimated that 250 were lost even before they had reached the front trench. 75% of the losses were due to machine gun fire able to enfilade the whole attack from deep emplacements on the La Boiselle side of the valley. 21 officers and 702 other ranks went into action, and at the end of the day, five officers and 212 other ranks came out. Hundreds of bodies lay out in no-mans land and could not be recovered until a long time after the battle. John Hardy was one of the many with no known grave and is commemorated on the Thiepval Memorial to the missing on pier & panels 2A, 2C & 2D.

Samuel Hardy had enlisted in the Kings Royal Rifle Corps, showing his next of kin to be his mother Louisa Hardy now living at Leeds. Sam was wounded with a gunshot wound to the foot only 2 weeks after the death of John and probably also in the Somme battle. After recovering in England he returned to the trenches and was wounded for a second time in April 1918 and evacuated to England again, this time with a gunshot wound to the knee, which was described as severe. Later medical reports show this to have been a "through and through" injury perforating the bursa. Four months later, although still suffering from some stiffness to the knee, he was recorded as category A. During this recovery period, Samuel married Clara Annie Allison at Middlesbrough in July 1918. He was discharged from the army as a Corporal in April 1919.

The information on this page was compiled by Steve Billings.

Information about John Hardy on the Commonwealth War Graves Commission website

Information about John Hardy on the War Graves Photographic Project website

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