Ernest Harry Winter

lincolnshire regimental badgePrivate, 2182, 1/5th (Territorial) Battalion, Lincolnshire Regiment, killed in action, 13th October 1915, aged 19

Born at Crowle in 1896, Harry was the the younger brother of Arthur and Harold, one of the fourteen children of George and Sarah Hannah Winter (nee Thorley). His father was from Ealand and his mother from Crowle. In 1901 the family lived in Gas Road where his father worked as a farm labourer. By 1911 they had moved to Coronation Terrace, North Street and his father worked at the Peat Works.

Harry enlisted in the Lincolnshire Regiment at Scunthorpe on 1st September 1914, aged 18. He was posted with elder brother Arthur to the 5th Lincoln’s and arrived in France with them on 1st March 1915. He survived the Second Battle of Ypres and the irregular actions of the summer that claimed the life of his brother and was with the Battalion when they moved from the Ypres area on 2nd October. But not before the unpleasant experience of a mine exploding under his trench on 30th September. Following a few days rest ‘out of the range of shell fire for the first time in months’ in Gonnehem, they then marched south to join the Battle of Loos.

The objective the 1/5th Lincoln’s were given to attack at Loos was a fortified position known as the Hohenzollern Redoubt and a trench behind it known as Fosse Trench. After six months in France this would be Harry and the 1/5th Lincoln’s first experience of attacking an enemy position. So they spent a few days practicing formations before finally moving into position on the afternoon of 12th October. Even this was not without it’s mishap. The guides sent to lead them to the trenches they were to occupy were new to the area and got lost. Then too late they discovered that the weapons they had been given for the attack, rifle grenades and mills bombs, were old and useless. A discovery that would have terrible consequences the following day.

Following the normal artillery barrage to cut the barbered wire and prepare the way for the advance across no-man’s land, the attack began at 1.45pm with the discharge of a gas cloud towards the enemy. Unfortunately as the wind was gusting at the time some of the gas blew backwards into the British causing a number of casualties. The gas eventually cleared and at 2.00pm Harry and his colleagues were ready for their first charge ‘over the top’.

The gas had done it’s work and the troops quickly secured their first objective, the Redout itself. However beyond it where the German reserves were situated it was a different matter. Advancing over the open ground in front of Fosse Trench they came under such heavy rifle and machine gun fire from the front and from both flanks, that the lines melted away, and further advance became impossible. Suffering heavy casualties and with no officers left, the remnants of the inexperienced soldiers were eventually forced to withdraw.

The 46th Division suffered a total of 3,643 casualties in the attack on Hohenzollern Redoubt. The 1/5th Lincoln’s was as bad as any and as the author of their Official History wrote the attack ‘practically destroyed it for the time being as a fighting unit’. Of the 23 officers and 1850 men of the who went into their first battle, only 1 officer and 110 men came out uninjured. 12 officers were killed and 11 wounded, 175 other ranks were seriously wounded and 285 were reported killed or missing. One of whom was Harry Winter. Harry has no known grave and is commemorated on the Loos Memorial.

Harry is also commemorated with his brothers on their parent’s headstone in Crowle Cemetery.