The Men from Hyde – Harry Immer House

Harry Immer House was born in 1873: his father was Isaac and his mother Elizabeth. He was 40 when he enlisted at Stoke Newington in London: the enlistment form notes that he was Church of England. His service number was R/17177. He joined the 16th Battalion of the Kings Royal Rifle Corps known as the Church Lads Brigade.

He crossed to France on SS Invicta joining his battalion on 12th June 2016. The Battle of the Somme was to start on 1st July and was to continue till early November. One of the most deadly sectors was High Wood where German positions were protected by concrete blockhouses, and machine guns had been sited to deliver enfilade fire onto the flanks of attacking troops. The 15th of September dawned misty but the sun came through and the temperature rose to a warm 72F. The KRRC, in support, was asked to fill the gap left by large numbers of casualties as the Queen’s Regiment and Highland Light Infantry tried to advance.

The handwritten official diary for the battle covers 7 pages in the Army archives. 4 officers and 149 other ranks were killed on this day alone.  One of the 16th Battalion corporals, Jack Beament, wrote:

“It was a horrible, terrible massacre”.

The battlefield was cut across by fallen trees and stumps, and with sunken trackways. Four tanks sent up failed to make any impact. Repeated tunnelling and massive underground detonations cratered the largely destroyed wood. The wood was not cleared of debris and bodies, even in the years after the war, and there are the remains of over 8,000 German and British soldiers still there.

In all probability, this is where Harry House lies still. The CWGC lists him on the Thiepval Memorial with over 70,000 British soldiers whose bodies have never been found.

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