Harry’s birth was registered at Congleton in the second quarter of 1897. He was the son of William and Ellen Lievesley. In 1901 he lived with his parents and his brother, Arthur, at Canal Road, Congleton. His father gave his occupation as a carter. By 1911 the family had moved to Biddulph and lived at Euters Hall Farm. His father was described as a farm labourer and 14 year old Harry as a ‘pit boy’.
It is believed that Harry enlisted in the Army at Stoke-on-Trent in January 1915, aged 17 years. His photograph appeared in the Staffordshire Weekly Sentinel of April 24th 1915 where he was described as the youngest son of Mr. William Lievesley of John Street, Biddulph.
The unit that he joined was the Royal Field Artillery and following training as a gunner in ‘D’ Battery 115 2nd Brigade. The medal card shows that Harry embarked on a channel crossing to France on July 29th 1915.
Without the aid of any service records it is difficult to build a picture of Harry’s service history. This unit may have originally served with the 26th Division which initially served in France before transferring to Salonika and then partly returning to France in mid-1918. This would fit in with the facts that are known of Harry Lievesley.
The 18-pounder field guns used by the battery were deadly weapons and after being positioned, the horses were taken a few miles to a safer back area were they had their waggon lines. Each night the drivers would take up supplies and ammunition to the battery by GS waggon and mules, each mule carrying eight 18-pounder shells in special saddles.
From local sources it is known that ‘D’ battery was in action at the Battle of the Marne in July 1918 which may have been the actions at Tardenois and Soissonais. At the end of July Gunner Harry Lievesley was seriously wounded and taken to the British 63rd Casualty Clearing Station at Senlis. Sadly, on August 1st 1918, he died from his wounds aged 21.
The Staffordshire Weekly Sentinel reported on Harry’s death on August 24th: “Official intimation has been received by Mr. & Mrs. W. Lievesley of 134, John Street, that their son, Gunner Harry Lievesley, RFA, had died of wounds at a dressing station in France on August 1st. Gunner Lievesley enlisted in January 1915 and had been on active service for about two years. Prior to joining the colours he worked in the Black Bull mines. The following letter has been received by his parents which testifies to the high esteem in which he was held by his officers:
Dear Mrs. Lievesley,
I regret to have to inform you that your son, Gunner Lievesley, was wounded in action on the afternoon of July 31st. His wounds are severe, but the best news I had of him from the dressing station was that they were not so bad as they looked, although he has a broken arm and a broken leg. I am very sorry indeed to lose such a useful and valuable member of the battery. He was a really good worker and was rapidly becoming a first class gunner too. Will you please wish him the very best of luck from all of us. We all wish he’d been with us the next day, which was a day of glorious victory.”
Harry is now at rest in the French National Cemetery at Senlis. He is also remembered on the Biddulph memorials.
Michael Turnock and Elaine Heathcote.