Harold Wroot

Wroot haroldLance Corporal, 11016, 8th (Service) Battalion (previously 2nd Battalion), Kings Own Yorkshire Light Infantry, died of wounds at home, 22nd September 1916, aged 20

Born at Crowle in 1897, the brother of Frederick and Arthur, Harold (known as Dan) was the youngest son and one of ten children of Frederick and Alice Mary Wroot (nee Holmes). His father was from Eastoft and mother from Belton and when Dan was born they had recently moved to Crowle from Eastoft. They lived in North Street where his father was a farmer and cattle dealer. In 1911 the 14 year old Harold was also in farm work, looking after the pigs kept by Harry Ray at Spen Lea, Crowle Wharf.

Like his two elder brothers Dan was also a serving soldier when war broke out having enlisted in the King’s Own Yorkshire Light Infantry at Doncaster in January 1914, aged 17. He was in India with the 1st KOYLI when war was declared and returned home to transfer to the 2nd KOYLI in France, arriving there on 7th October 1914 shortly before his 18th birthday.

Dan was wounded in action four times. The first two occasions were minor, but the third, suffered in the Battle for Hill 60 in April 1915 saw his first stay in hospital. Of strategic importance to the area around Zillebeke, about two miles from Ypres, Hill 60 was captured by the Allies in a surprise attack on 17th April 1915, but lost again that night to a German counter-attack. The following day the 2nd KOYLI, were tasked to help re-take it again. The attackers faced much stiffer resistance having to tackle heavy artillery bombardments, including gas shells, machine gun and rifle fire before successfully clearing the summit. Repelling attacks through the night the 2nd KOYLI were relieved at dawn the next morning, having suffered 239 casualties killed, wounded or missing.

In helping to capture and hold Hill 60 Dan was gassed and suffered a shrapnel wound in his thigh. Sent back to Britain to recuperate he was in Manchester War Hospital, when he developed pneumonia, thought to have been an after-effect of the gas. It was not until he had recovered from this and was transferred to Pontefract in late May 1915 that he was well enough to have the shrapnel removed.

After recovered from his wounds Harold went back out to France again, this time with 8th KOYLI. His fourth injury came on 1st July 1916, the beginning of the Battle of Albert and the first day of the Battle of the Somme, when he was part of the attack near Authuile Wood that claimed the lives of Cyril Gilbert and Arthur Drinkall.

This time his injuries were much more serious. Dan had been hit by the explosion of at least one shrapnel shell and he had suffered multiple shrapnel wounds which had pierced his intestines and damaged his spinal cord so that he was paralysed down one side and had lost the use of both legs. Evacuated to Bradford War Hospital he underwent at least one operation but; ‘from the first there was little hope of recovery and several times his relatives had been summoned to his bedside.’ After two months in Bradford on the evening of 22nd September 1916, Harold Wroot finally succumbed to his injuries.

Harold was the first Crowle soldier to die ‘at home’ and the town wished to have him suitably honoured. Arrangements were made to have a full military interment but the army would not allow this so instead Harold received an ‘unofficial’ military funeral. Following a memorial service at St Oswald’s Church on Tuesday 25th September, four members of the Royal Defence Corps, Messrs, Scales, Dale, Cockerham and Horseman, acted as pallbearers to carry his coffin to Mill Road Cemetery. Any Crowle soldier home on leave turned out in uniform, as did members of the Defence Corps and special constables. All the shops and businesses closed and blinds were drawn in houses as the large procession made its way from the church to the cemetery. Here ‘amid many scenes of regret and manifestations of sorrow’, two buglers of the Royal Defence Corps played the Last Post as Harold Wroot was laid to rest.

A cousin of the brothers, Pte Edwin Phillipson, of Eastoft, also of the 8th Battalion KOYLI, died in October 1916.

wroot harold grave