Born at Crowle in 1884, Harry was the son of James and Mary Ann Dempster (nee Isle). His father was from Burnham and his mother from Crowle. James was a farm labourer and the nomadic life of a farm servant at the time can be seen from their family records with children being born in Burnham, Haxey and Scunthorpe and them living in Epworth, Haxey and Wroot at various points. In 1911 they had returned to live in North Street where Mary Ann was a housekeeper and James, then aged 77, was a roadman for Crowle Urban District Council. He was illiterate as his census form is signed ‘X’, ‘the mark of James Dempster’.
Like his father Harry was also a farm labourer and carter working across the local area. In 1915 he married Ellen Bonner at Caistor and they lived nearby in Lissington when he enlisted.
Harry was a reservist with the Lincolnshire Regiment when war broke out, so would have been mobilised with other reservists in August 1914. although he did not arrive in France until 4th October 1915 to join the 8th (Service) Battalion who had arrived three weeks previously.
When Harry joined the 8th Lincolnshire’s the battalion was recovering and rebuilding from it’s only experience of action up to that time, the chaos that was the Battle of Loos. The only Lincolnshire Battalion to participate directly at Loos, the inexperienced troops had suffered terrible casualties, loosing almost 500 men, killed, wounded or missing.
The remnants of the battalion had been withdrawn from the front and were recuperating in Linghem when Harry joined them. From here they marched north, via Boore and Strazeele, arriving on 28th October at billets in Armentieres. For the first few days in the area they were employed with the Royal Engineers on improving and maintaining the trench defences in the locality.
On 13th November 1915 they moved into those trenches where, only four days later, Harry Dempster lost his life, probably in a routine sniping, mortar or artillery attack. He is buried in Chapelle d’Armentieres New Military Cemetery.
Harry is also mentioned on the Scunthorpe Roll of Honour.