No.174375, Gunner, Harry FARRANT
Aged 37

26th Heavy Battery, Royal Garrison Artillery
formerly 19589, 35 battery Royal Field Artillery
formerly 29206, Royal Artillery
Killed in Action on Sunday, 28th October 1917

This would have been Harry's medals, he was an Old Contemptible

Harry FARRANT was born in Haverhill (Risbridge Q1-1880 4A:540), son of Harry and Amelia FARRANT (née COLE).

1881 census...Aged 1, he was at Eden Road, Haverhill with his father Harry FARRANT [25] beamer in silk fActory; his mother Amelia [298] silk weaver; sister Lily [3]. All born in Haverhill.

1891 census...Aged 11, he was at 15 Eden Road, Haverhill with his parent; brother Frank [7];sisters Selina Flora [4] and Lilly Violet [1]. All were born in Haverhill.

1901 census... He was in the Royal Artillery in South Africa. At 34 Burton End, Haverhill were his parents (father a mat weaver); sisters Cymbaline F (warehouse girl in clothing factory) and Lilly O; brothers Frank (mat weaver) and Cyril [8] born Haverhill

1911 census...Not positively identified in this census. At 34 Vine Cottages, Haverhill were his parents and brothers Frank (hair weaver) Cyril (presser). His mother had lost two of her seven children (apparently Lily no 1 (aged 4) in 1882 was one).

His brother Frank was killed serving in France in the Cheshire Regiment in 1914. see here

He enlisted in London on 25th August 1898, for 7 years with the colours and 5 on Reserve, giving his age as 18 years 7 months, single, a labourer born and living in Haverhill. Next of kin, father Harry at Burton Ground, Haverhill. He had already served in the 3rd Battalion, Suffolk Regiment but purchased his discharge to join the Artillery. he was 5 feet 10.5 inches (179.1 cm) tall, weighed 152 lbs (69.2 kg), chest 36" to 38"(91.4 to 96.5 cm), blue grey eyes, brown hair and Church of England.
Joining the depot at Dover on 26th, he was attested Gunner and appointed Acting Bombardier 18th October 1899 but demoted due to misconduct on 23 February 1900. The Royal Regiment of Artillery was split into 2 groups on 1st January 1899, the Royal Horse Artillery and the Royal Field Artillery made up one group, the other became the Royal Garrison Artillery. Harry became part of the 103rd battery R.G.A. and was promoted again to Acting Bombardier on 11th July 1903 and then extended his service to a complete 12 years with the colours.
Then followed a move to 19th Battery on 12th December 1905 then to 25th Battery as Bombardier on 21st February 1906, then 57th Battery on 16th July 1907 before he blotted his copy book again and was demoted to Gunner on 6th June 1910 (that of course saved the Army some money and he ended his 12 years, discharged on 24th August 1910.

During that time he had served at home from 25th August 1898 to 5th February 1901, then South Africa from 6th February to 6th November 1901. He then went straight to Bermuda on 7th November 1901 until 1st December 1903, followed by Halifax, Nova Scotia from 2nd December 1903 to 5th December 1905. Then he returned to UK to see out the rest of his service in UK.

While in South Africa he was awarded the Queen's South Africa medal with clasps for Cape Colony, Orange Free State, Transvaal and South Africa 1901.

He seems to have re-enlisted as soon as war broke out and was in France with the 39th Brigade Royal Field Artillery on 16th August 1914, but transferring at some time back to Garrison Artillery. .

A report published in the South West Suffolk Echo on 10th November 1917 read:-
"Much regret will be felt for Mr. and Mrs. Farrant, of 34, Vine Cottages, Haverhill, in the loss of their eldest son, Gunner Harry Farrant, of the RG.A., who met his death in France on October 28th. as the result of a bomb from an enemy aircraft. Gunner Farrant who was 37 years of age, was a time expired soldier, but on the outbreak of War re-enlisted and went out with the Expeditionary Force, in August 1914. He had been home on leave on two occasions, and had also been sent to England for a time in consequence of trench feet. On one occasion while crossing over, the boat on which he has travelling was torpedoed, but he was saved. He fought in the South African War and received the medal, with four clasps. This is the second loss Mr. and Mrs. Farrant have sustained in the War, as their second son, Pte. Frank Farrant, of the Cheshire Regt., was killed in France in September 1914, he being the first Haverhill soldier to make the great sacrifice.
Gunner Farrant's brother has received the following letter from Gunner W. Neal:-
" I beg to inform you that your brother was killed last night, the 28th, by a bomb dropped by a German plane. He died instantly. It upset me greatly as we have been chums from the outbreak of War. We went home together and were transferred to the Battery when we came out again. Please accept my deepest sympathy. ".

It was not unusual for a soldier to have two medal index cards, the 1914 Star was often on one and the War and Victory medals on the other. Such 2nd card has not been found, but it must be that Harry qualified for the 1914 Star and clasp, and most unlikely that the family would have claimed Frank's clasp and not Harry's

Harry was originally buried in ASYLUM BRITISH CEMETERY, YPRES, which was in the grounds of a mental hospital (the Hospice du Sacre Coeur) just West of the railway station, between the Poperinghe road and the railway. It was used by Field Ambulances and fighting units from February 1915, to November 1917. The graves there were concentrated to Bedford House around 1920.

photo: Rodney Gibson

Harry Farrant is buried in Bedford House Cemetery, Belgium grave Encl 2:5:B:8
and commemorated in the Old Independent Church,Haverhill

click here to go to the Commonwealth War Graves Commission website for full cemetery/memorial details

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