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4770 Pte H.Bryan 1st Leictershire Regiment and ASC in WW1 2 months 1 week ago #77343

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I recently added this little group to the collection and have just completed some research om the man.

4770 Pte H. Bryan, 1st Leicester Regiment and ASC (WW1)
Born: 2nd Quarter 1875
Died: 4th Quarter 1953

A Talana man

Harry Bryan was born in April 1875 in Leicester, England. He was the son of William Edward and Sarah Ann Bryan.

The first we hear of Harry is the entry in the 1881 census that records him as living with his parents and siblings at 17 Charlotte Street, Leicester. William his father was a shoe riveter and was most likely employed locally in Leicester in the shoe manufacturing industry that was pretty large in the area during the latter part of the 19th century.

Harry himself was listed as 5 year old Scholar and one of six siblings. What the family got up to for the next 10 years is unknown and therefore little further can be found on the family until the 1891 census comes around.

By 1891 the family has grown with the addition on a further son named Charles and the family was now living at 52 Burley’s Lane in Leicester. Harry is recorded as a 16 year old and employed as a shoe riveter. It would seem as if Harry was certainly influenced by his father with respect of his choice of trade and as of 1891 four members of the family were employed in the shoe trade, hopefully life was not to bad for them all.
Harry would have carried on working in his trade for a further few years but perhaps he wasn’t that happy and yearned for a bit of adventure, so on the 3rd September 1896 he attested into the Leicestershire Regiment. He completed the Short Service form (Army Form B.265: 7 years with the Colours and 5 years in the Reserve)
At the time he signed his Attestation Papers his personal details were recorded as follows:

Apparent Age: 21 years and 5 Months
Chest Minimum: 34 Inches, Maximum Expansion 35 ½ Inches
Height: 5 foot 8 ¼ Inches
Weight: 128 Lbs.
Complexion: Fair
Eyes: Grey
Hair: Fair
Religious Denomination: Church of England
Next of Kin: Father, William Edward Bryan of 52 Burley’s Lane, Leicester.

He further states that he has had no previous service in Her Majesty’ Forces.

Once he was proclaimed “Fit” and all the formalities were over Harry was issued the Regimental number 4770 the rank of Private sent off to the Depot where he remained, one presumes under going training until the 13th January 1897 when he was transferred to the 2nd Battalion. It appears as if the 2nd Battalion was based in Ireland on Garrison duty during 1897 and as such Harry would have found himself in Ireland and also presumably keeping his eyes on the brewing tensions in far off South Africa. Harry was appointed L/Cpl on the 4th February 1898 a rank he was only to hold until the 12th April 1898 when he forfeited the stripe. Harry was then transferred on the 24th December 1898 to the1st Battalion Leicester Regiment and a few months later he with the 1st Battalion sailed for South Africa.

The 1st Battalion was stationed at Glencoe, in the north of Natal, when the war broke out on the 11th October 1899 and It formed part of the Brigade of General Penn Symons, the other battalions being the 1st King's Royal Rifles, 1st Royal Irish Fusiliers, and 2nd Dublin Fusiliers. Also at Glencoe were the 18th Hussars and the 13th, 67th, and 69th Batteries RFA.

The Battle of Talana Hill, 20th October 1899

A brief account of the battle, the siege of Ladysmith and later actions, Stirling refers:

The actual fighting commenced at 3.20 am on the morning of 20th October, when a Mounted Infantry piquet of the Dublin Fusiliers was fired on and driven in. At 5.50 am the enemy occupied Talana Hill with artillery, and commenced shelling the camp. The troops were soon set in motion. To the Leicester’s and 67th Battery was assigned the duty of guarding the camp with its great quantities of stores. The general decided to attack with his other infantry and artillery. These moved away and were soon in extended order advancing to a wood, which the commander had decided to use as a breathing place. The wood was gained between 7 and 8 am, the 13th and 69th Batteries meanwhile keeping up a heavy and accurate fire on the enemy's positions. About 8.50 the infantry again advanced, and as they left the wood had to face a terrible rifle-fire both from their front and flank. Sir W Penn-Symons, who had been exposing himself with rash bravery, fell mortally wounded about 9.30; Brigadier General Yule, now in command, directed the infantry to move to a wall stretching some distance along the hillside, from which wall a very heavy fire was being kept up by the Boers. The two batteries redoubled their efforts. The 1st King's Royal Rifles on the right first reached the wall, followed by some companies of the Irish Fusiliers; the Dublin Fusiliers also made their way up a little later. After another breathing space under cover of the wall the troops jumped the wall and scrambled up the steep face. At 1 pm the crest was gained and the enemy fled. Then followed the first blackguardly use of the white flag. Within easy range of our artillery were to be seen "clumps of 50 and 100 men on which guns could have inflicted great loss. The enemy, however, displayed a white flag, although they do not appear to have had any intention of surrendering, and in consequence the infantry had done magnificently; the same cannot be said of the Hussars, or at least those under Colonel Moller, who managed to get lost among the enemy, and was taken prisoner with 200 men. The artillery did well, but it seems beyond doubt that they fired at the hill-top after it was occupied by our people, causing some loss, particularly to the King's Royal Rifles. The range was short, and artillery officers with proper glasses should have seen when the British troops were up. The Leicester’s lost 1 officer killed, 1 wounded, and 1 man wounded.

On the 21st General Yule moved his camp to a better position. On the 22nd he resolved to retreat on Ladysmith. . At nine at night and in silence, without bands or pipers, the force set out by the east or Helpmakaar road, the dying general, the other wounded, and the doctors being left behind. A great mass of stores had also to be left to the enemy, as its destruction would have made him suspect the intended retreat; while, on the other hand, a twelve hours' start was absolutely necessary. To have fought their way to Ladysmith would have been an impossible task for Yule's column in that hilly country. As it was, the Boers showed that inexplicable want of energy that seemed at times in the campaign to paralyse them. Probably the good things left in Dundee had something to do with the lack of activity. Fortunate it was that General Yule was not interfered with by the enemy, but the elements were not favourable. The rain at times fell in torrents; roads knee-deep in mud and swollen spruits made marching very heavy work, while but little sleep was obtainable between the 21st and 26th.

The Leicester’s marching back to Ladysmith

On the 30th, in the battle of Ladysmith the Leicester’s were with Colonel Grimwood on the right and had a very trying day. They had about 24 casualties.
After the siege began the Leicester’s occupied posts on the north side, and they were not much pressed in the great attack on 6th January. For four months the Battalion fought splendidly throughout the stubborn defence of Ladysmith, during which the garrison was reduced to almost starvation rations. Before the town was relieved one tenth of the defenders had laid down their lives.
For their work during the siege 2 officers and 3 men were mentioned in Sir George White's despatch of 23rd March 1900.
When, Ladysmith having been relieved and its garrison recuperated, Sir Redvers Buller moved north, the Leicester’s were brigaded with the 1st Liverpool, 1st Royal Inniskilling Fusiliers, and 1st King's Royal Rifles. They were present at Bergendal and many other actions, but had a remarkable immunity from mishaps and heavy casualty lists. In his dispatch of 10th October 1900 Lord Roberts mentions that in the operations about Badfontein on the way to Lydenburg the Leicester’s and 1st King's Royal Rifles pulled a field battery up a steep hill, which did much to assist in compelling the enemy to bolt.
Seven officers and 9 non-commissioned officers and men of the battalion were mentioned in General Buller's despatch of 9th November 1900, and 11 officers and 12 non-commissioned officers and men were mentioned by Lord Roberts in his final despatch.
After marching to Lydenburg with General Buller, and taking part in his other operations north of the Delagoa line, the Leicester’s remained in the Eastern Transvaal, sometimes trekking, as in General French's operations, sometimes doing garrison duty. That their work was consistently good is proved by the fact that they got rather more than an average number of mentions in Lord Kitchener's despatches during the war. For a long time prior to the close of the war they occupied blockhouses on the Standerton-Ermelo road.
In the final despatch 4 officers and 6 non-commissioned officers were mentioned.[/i]

After much bloodshed and toil the war was finally over when the last of the Boer forces surrendered in May1902. The peace treaty known as the “ Treaty of Vereeniging” was signed on the 31st May 1902
Following the end of the war in South Africa, the 1st battalion was in late 1902 transferred to Fort St. George in the Madras Presidency, 540 officers and men leaving Port Natal on the SS Ortona arriving in Madras in late November 1902, Harry however appears to have stayed on in South Africa as his papers show that he was posted “Home” on the 6th January 1903. His papers also show that he was transferred to the 2nd Battalion of the Leicestershire Regiment on the 7th January 1903 and according to the Regimental History he would have then been stationed in Guernsey.
On the 3rd September 1903 Harry had completed his 7 years with the colours and was transferred to the Army Reserve.

* There is a Family Tree and references on Ancestry that contradicts his military papers to some degree. This tree indicates that he had married one (Elizabeth Annie Smart in 1899 and the union produced a son “Harry” who was born in 1900 no mention of this in military papers) and who later served in the RFC/RAF during the latter part of WW1. It then further states that he married Annie Elizabeth Pyatt on 4 April 1904 in Leicester, Leicestershire This is confirmed in his attestation papers for the Boer War and WW1. The tree also states that he married a Jessie Freeman in 1925 now aged 50 years and that he had one son and two daughters with her. The Family Tree also makes no mention of his service in the Leicester Regiment in South Africa from 1899-1903*

Nevertheless, we assume that he was busy in Civilian life and working within his trade in the shoe manufacturing industry we do know for sure though that he met and married a Lady by the name of Annie Elizabeth Pyatt. This marriage took place at St Marks in Leicester on the 4th April 1904 and this is recorded on his attestation papers.
On the 2nd September 1908 Harry was discharged on completion of his 1st period of engagement. 12 years now completed.
Harry, from what we know, carried on working within the Leicester area and was busy with life and still married to Annie but in 1908 a sad moment occurred when his mother, Sarah Ann passed away.
When the 1911 census came around Harry was we assume, still in Leicester, as I cannot find a census document that confirms beyond doubt that he was there. (The family tree referred to earlier has a Harry Bryan living at 11 Edwards Road, Leicester with a Jessie Freeman as also mentioned in the tree. This Harry Bryan is 33 years old but he should be 36 years old and also there is no mention made of Annie Elizabeth who was still his wife when he attested into the ASC during WW1!!!) One can therefore assume that the family tree on Ancestry is not accurate.
Nothing further is known of Harry Bryan until October 1915 when he decided it was time to put on a uniform again and to do his bit for King and Country in what was hoped would be the war to end all wars.

Now aged 40 years, Henry enlisted into the Army Service Corps for the duration of the current war at Whitehall in London on the 19th October 1915. His Attestation Papers show the following information;

Name: Harry Bryan
Address: 94 Willow Bridge Street, Leicester
Age: 40 Years
Married: Yes
Trade or Calling: Labourer
Previous Military Service: Yes, 1st Leicester’s, T/Ex Sep 3 1908
Next of Kin: Wife, Annie Elizabeth Bryan (Married 04/04/1904)

With the formalities over, Harry was issued the Regimental number of SS/20216 and the rank of Pte. He was sent off to Aldershot on the 19th October 1915 and remained there until the 14th November 1915 when he was shipped off to Salonika.

He embarked Per SS “ Olympic” at Liverpool on the 15th November 1915 and 12 days later he transshipped at Mudros and then sailed on board the “Abbassioh” until disembarking at Salonika on the 28th November 1915. Upon arrival he was placed on strength of the 28th Labour Company. The functions of the Labour Corp were very varied and works was hard for the men in the climate of Salonika. Many were to befall the curse of malaria. This happened to Harry. He started to feel the effects of malaria in July 1916 but was only admitted to the 48th General Hospital in Salonika for treatment in August 1917. His Regimental number now being 349286. On the 9th September 1917 he was sent to number 3 Convalescent Hospital for further rest and treatment. On the 20th September he was discharged and placed back on strength of his unit. Further hard work entailed until the 22nd December 1917 when Harry was sent home in January 1918. He then joined Grove Park and was now a Learner Lorry Driver. He was sent off to Isleworth in March 1918 and in April 1918 he passed the Learners Test as a Lorry Driver. By this time his Regimental number had changed again and was now M/375663.

It was now May 1918 and again Harry was again on the move as he was sent to France. France was at this time a very frightening place to be what with the Germans having launched their Spring Offensive on the 21st March 1918. He was placed on strength of the 1st Base M.T Depot, Rouen and on the 9th May 1918 he was one of a party of men who where tasked with transporting vehicles that were destined for Salonika. They formed part of 902 Convoy M.T A.S.C and were to drive these Lorry’s as far as Marseilles.

Typical scene of a ASC vehicle convoy during WW1

It was during this trip on the 22nd May 1918 that Harry Bryan reportedly climbed off of a moving Lorry and this resulted in him having his right foot punctured. He was admitted to the 57th General Hospital in Marseilles (also known as the Western General Hospital) until he was invalided back to England on the 23rd May 1918. He sailed aboard the Gloucester Castle arriving on the 24th May 1918. He then spends 55 days in Hospital and was then sent to Norwood upon discharge from Hospital. Harry found himself back in Hospital on the 4th December 1918 when he suffered a reoccurring bout of malaria. He was discharged from on New Years Eve. He was to undertake several reviews about his disability and was granted a 20% disability allowance. Harry Bryan was eventually on the 1st March 1919 transferred to Reserve Class Z.

Little further is known of his life after the war but we assume he lived a full and eventful life eventually passing away during the 4th Quarter of 1953 in Leicester.

His full medal entitlement is:

Queen’s South Africa medal with 4 Clasps
King’s South Africa medal with 2 Clasps
1914-15 Star
1914-1918 British War Medal
Allied Victory Medal

Part time researcher of the Cape Police and C.P.G Regiment.
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4770 Pte H.Bryan 1st Leictershire Regiment and ASC in WW1 2 months 1 week ago #77344

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What a fantastic post!
Dr David Biggins
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4770 Pte H.Bryan 1st Leictershire Regiment and ASC in WW1 2 months 1 week ago #77346

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Thank you David,

I had hours of fun putting it together.

Part time researcher of the Cape Police and C.P.G Regiment.

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