Stone, Harold George
Son of George Stone, commercial traveller, and Maria Leach Stone, of 82 Worth Road, Bishopston. Older brother of Edney Florence Stone.
Stone was born on 02/09/1898, and attended the School from 1911-1913. He served as a 2nd Lieutenant in the Army, with the Somerset Light Infantry 8th Bn.. Stone sadly lost his life on 05/04/1918, as a result of the War.
Stone is remembered on Arras Memorial, France, Bay 4.
An Account of Service (Bishopston at War)
Harold was born in Bristol about December 1898 the only son of George and Maria Leach Stone and in 1901 they were living at 16 Tyne Road in Bishopston. His father was working as a chandler/stationer at this time and they also had a domestic servant – Martha Parnell (30) – living with them. In 1909 the family attended at St Katharine’s Church in Redland (the daughter church of St Michael & All Angels) and the newsletter for July of that year noted that Harold attended Miss Duddridge’s Sunday School Class. He was later educated at Bristol Grammar School and by 1911 they were living at 22 Broadway in Bishopston, together with his sister Edney Florence (8). His father was working as a commercial traveller for a printing firm at this time. By 1914 they were living at 82 North Road in St Andrews and his parents were still living there after the war had ended. They later moved to 47 Cromwell Road in St Andrews where his sister Edney died in about March 1923 aged 20. His father followed on the 28th of February 1926 aged 59, leaving some £231 to his widow who followed shortly after in about January 1928 aged 58.
Although his service record is not available, Harold’s medal record suggests that he enlisted while under age with the 2/1 North Somerset Yeomanry shortly after it was formed in September 1914, rising to the rank of Lance Sergeant. He remained with them on home service until he volunteered for transfer to the 8th Battalion of the Somerset Light Infantry. He joined them in France on the 8th of December 1916 where he gained a field commission as a 2nd Lieutenant shortly afterwards, which was duly reported in the Bristol Times & Mirror on the 9th and 13th of January. There followed several months of trench holding before he saw his first major action with Lt General Haldane’s VI Corps at the 1st battle of the Scarpe (9th-14th of April). He his Division followed up the earlier capture of the key defences between Wancourt and Feuchy by taking the village of Monchy le Preaux, suffering heavy casualties in the process.
They were then moved to Lt General Fergusson’s XVII Corps to take part in the 2nd battle of the Scarpe (23rd-24th of April), advancing eastwards from Wancourt towards Vis-en-Artois. Although some initial gains were made, this was only at a heavy cost and they were unable to advance any further. After a brief pause they were back in action for the advance to Arleaux-en-Gohelle (28th-29th of April), which was quickly taken by the Canadians, although the British met stiffer resistance as they moved towards Gavrelle. The village was taken by the evening of the 28th April, although a German counterattack forced a brief retreat until reinforcements were brought up and the village held. Further attacks on the next day failed to net any advances.
After this there was a pause to regroup and refit for the Passchendaele offensive, where they served as part of Lt General Gordon’s IX Corps at the battle of Pilkem Ridge (31st of July – 2nd of August). After one of the heaviest bombardments in the war the opening attack was initially successful, advancing 2 miles on a 15 mile front but soon bogged down in the mud and the rain and was eventually called off with some 30,000 dead and wounded. After a few weeks rest and recuperation Harold’s unit was back in action at the battle of the Menin Road (20th-25th of September). This saw a change away from attempts to break through the line to what became known as bite and hold tactics. The battle was a great success with all objectives taken on the opening day and subsequent German counterattacks beaten off with heavy casualties.
After a very brief respite Harold then took part in an intense period of fighting at the battles of Polygon Wood (26th of September – 3rd October), Broodseinde (4th of October), Poelcapelle (9th of October) and 1st Passchendaele (12th of October). A series of bite and hold operations by which General Plumer’s 2nd Army inched its way through the mud and rain to capture the village of Passchendaele on the 12th of October. By the end of this the Allied troops were exhausted, having failed to break through to the Belgian ports and had suffered some 100,000 casualties for only limited gains. Not surprisingly morale in the British Army had fallen to its lowest ebb by this point. After this the 37th Division was withdrawn from the battle to rest and recuperate and there followed a long winter punctuated by further periods of trench holding and internal reorganisation.
In the spring of 1918 they were in reserve but at the end of March they moved forward to bolster Lt General Harper’s IV Corps, which was retreating from Bapaume after the Germans had broken through 5th Army defences on the Somme. They first came into action at the battle of the Ancre (5th of April) where 6 German Divisions seeking to break through to the key railhead at Amiens attacked the IV Corps. Heavy fighting took place in Rossignol Wood and part of the village of Bucquoy was lost. However, by the end of the day it was clear that these assaults had resulted in heavy German casualties for only slight territorial gains and in consequence General Ludendorff was forced to call off his “Michael” offensive.
As for Harold, he was serving as Battalion signals officer at this time and his unit had been ordered to relieve the 2/4 KOYLI in the area near Rossignol Wood. On the 5th April the Battalion was ordered to attack to the South East corner of Gommecourt supported by 6 tanks. Unfortunately the tanks failed to turn up and the attack went forward in heavy rain and very muddy conditions. The first line of trenches was captured with very little resistance and 60 prisoners were taken. The second wave then advances towards Rossignol Wood but came under heavy rifle and machine gun fire from concealed positions and was forced to consolidate their line after taking heavy casualties. The Germans then launched a counter attack and suffered heavy casualties in turn, although they did manage to overrun and capture some of the survivors of the arrack on Rossignol Wood whose rifles had become clogged with mud.
By the end of the day little had been gained other than the capture of the rest of Roach Trench and the listening post in Fish Alley. About this time Harold, accompanied by Corporal Strawbridge, ran out of the trenches with a telephone line and relayed message back to Battalion Headquarters until he was killed by shellfire and the line cut. In all 4 officers were killed that day and another 6 were wounded or captured. Casualties were heavy but the Germans were also badly cut up, with over 200 taken prisoner. Sadly Harold’ body was never recovered and his name was listed on the Arras Memorial, which commemorates the 35,000 Commonwealth soldiers who died in the sector between the Spring of 1916 and the 7th August 1918 and have no known grave.
His death was later reported in the Bristol Times & Mirror on the 13th April 1918.