Harry Alfred Thorpe


Sherwood Foresters (Notts & Derbys Regiment) 29343 16th Battalion

Photo Lea Mills postcard

Harry Thorpe in WW1

Harry Thorpe lived at Shelford House, Lea. His parents were Gertrude and William Thorpe. He had an older brother, William, and a sister Kathleen (Nellie). His brother was wounded in the War. His grandfather was a blacksmith in Lea. Harry worked in the Dressing Department of Lea Mills and enlisted on 20th August 1915, aged eighteen.
His initial posting was to Bakewell and on 17th September 1915, some three weeks after he joined, he wrote ‘we had a route march to Eyam, Wednesday, and had great sport cooking our dinner.’ From Bakewell, he joined D. Coy 19th Sherwood Foresters, Hut 2, North Camp at Ripon. By 17th December 1915, he was thinking that he would finish his training in that posting and on 20th December, he was expecting to get his Christmas leave sometime towards the end of January 1916, although he had clearly had some leave.
I brought my parcel back with me. It is very good of the people, I am sure. I have also had a parcel from the Mill.’ This suggests that the firm was providing parcels to some its former employees before October 1916, the date recorded in the parcels book.
On 3rd March 1916, he wrote ‘On the whole we are having a good time here. They have sent a lot of drafts from here to the 16th and 17th Battalions at ----. W Curzon is down here. I should like to know where W.Broomhead is. I wrote to him about a month ago at Derby, but he hasn’t replied yet.’
On 12th April 1916, he informed the vicar that he was leaving (for France on) Friday. ‘I have had a good training and am now going to do my bit.’
He sailed for France in April with B Coy, 6th Platoon, 16th Battalion, Sherwood Foresters. By June 9th, 1916, he had served for a spell in the trenches and, at the stand down, was appreciating the possibility of a full night’s sleep. ‘We are billeted in barns just now: they are very comfortable to the trenches. W.Curzon is in the same company.’ We know from W.Curzon, that the company was ‘still in the trenches’ on 14th July 1916. It was not until 24th July that Harry Thorpe reported that he was having a rest ‘after a long stay in the trenches.’
This was at the height of the Battle of the Somme and it is the last we hear from Harry Thorpe. The Firm sent him a parcel of groceries in October 1916, but this was never acknowledged. He was registered as ‘missing’ in the Parish Magazine in November 1916 and the Firm continued to list him as ‘missing’ even after the Armistice in November 1918. He died in the Battle of the Somme on 8th October 1916, aged only 18/19. He was killed only a day after Bert Sheldon, who was of a similar age and also a former employee at the Mill. Harry is buried at Mill Road Cemetery, Thiepval, France Grave/Memorial X11. F7. Both Harry and Bert are remembered on the Thiepval memorial.
Harry Alfred Thorpe is also remembered on the Lea Mills Memorial, on the Roll of Honour and the Memorial in Christ Church and on the War Memorial above the Memorial Garden.

George Wigglesworth Notes
Harold Alfred Thorpe was son of William and Gertrude Thorpe, he had a brother William (who was wounded) and sister Kathleen. His grandfather was a blacksmith at Lea.

Newspaper Report

Derbyshire Courier16 December 1916

Harry Thorpe in Ww1

Pte H Thorpe, Lea, missing

Medal Card Index
He was awarded the Victory and British War Medals.

Commonwealth War Graves Commission

Surname Thorpe
Forename Harry
Nationality United Kingdom
Rank Private
Notts & Derby (Sherwood Foresters)
Unit 16th Bn
Date of Death 08/10/16
Casualty type Commonwealth War Dead
Grave/Memorial Reference
Mill Road Cemetery, THIEPVAL


War Graves Certificate for Harry Thorpe in WW1

Harry is remembered on several war memorials –

Photos Peter Patilla

Lea Mills War Memorial

The war memorial plaque outside Lea Mills

Harry Thorpe memorial Crist Church Lea

Wall plaque: Christ Church, Dethick, Lea and Holloway
Pte Harry Alfred Thorpe
16th Sherwood Foresters
Near Thiepal 9th Oct 1916

Lea War Memorial

Lea War memorial names

Harry Alfred Thorpe's name is in the Lea War Memorial


1901: Lea Lane

Forename Surname Relationship Age Occupation Where born
William Thorpe Head 35 Lead smelter Starkholmes
Gertrude Thorpe wife 31   Burton
William Thorpe son 7   Lea
Nellie Thorpe daughter 6   Lea
Harry Thorpe son 4   Lea

RG13 piece 3235 folio 49 page 4

1911: Slaley, Bonsall

Forename Surname Relationship Age Occupation Where born
William Thorpe Head 45 Lead smelter Starkholmes
Gertrude Thorpe wife 41   Burton
William Thorpe son 17 Hosiery worker Lea
Nellie Thorpe daughter 16 Spinner hosiery factory Lea
Harry Thorpe son 14 Mill hand hosiery factory Lea

RG14PN21012 RG78PN1253 RD436 SD6 ED10 SN51