Date of birth: 1893
Date of death: 14.10.1917
Regiment: King’s Own Yorkshire Light Infantry
Family information: Son of Robert and Matilda Maria Harrod
Service number: 12/164
Shortly after the outbreak of war in 1914, George Edwin Harrod joined the 12th (Service) Battalion, King’s Own Yorkshire Light Infantry. This battalion was formed at Leeds on 5th September by the West Riding Coal Owners Association, in answer to Lord Kitchener’s call for volunteers. The 12th KOYLI became a pioneer battalion, whose role was similar to that of front line infantrymen. However they were also charged with other duties, such as trench digging, installation of barbed wire and moving supplies. The pioneers were equipped as assault troops, but in addition also carried a pick, shovel and 50 rounds less ammunition.
In December 1915, Private Harrod and the 12th KOYLI, attached to the 31st Division, sailed for Egypt, where they were to defend the Suez Canal. In March 1916 the 31st Division left Egypt and returned to Europe, landing at Marseilles before moving north towards the Somme region.
On 1st July 1916, the opening day of the Battle of the Somme, the 31st Division was on the extreme left of the British attack and charged with capturing the village of Serre. During the British bombardment of the enemy trenches, which began a week before the assault, 5 saps were dug at intervals along the divisional front, to within 40 yards of the enemy front line. These saps were to be opened up one hour before the planned attack.
The plan was for “B” and “C” Companies of 12th KOYLI to start constructing communication trenches from the saps, to the captured German lines, as soon as the assault infantry was through the first objective. The other two KOYLI companies, “A” and “D” Companies, were allocated to 94th and 93rd Brigade and were to establish strong points at selected positions in the captured German trenches.
The 31st Division attack failed and the platoons from “A” Company and “D” Company, following the assault troops into attack, suffered many casualties from enemy artillery and machine gun fire. In the hours that followed the attack the 12th KOYLI was engaged in rebuilding trenches destroyed by enemy artillery fire, supplying ammunition and later, helping to recover the wounded. On the 2nd July the battalion was in reserve and one week later they were in billets at Mallinghem.
For the next four months the 12th KOYLI worked under the direction of the Royal Engineers. This work included unloading coal barges, digging drainage systems in the forward area, making tramways, tunnelling and building strong points.
On the 13th November 1916 the 12th KOYLI returned to the Somme, which was in its final phase. At this time half the battalion was involved in an attack against the German line, north of the River Ancre.
Early in 1917 the battalion was engaged in railway construction on the Fond du Vase railway, near the Hindenburg Line. The Arras offensive commenced on the 9th April 1917, along a 17 ½ mile front, between Vimy Ridge and Bullecourt. At this time the 12th KOYLI was deployed to dig communication trenches near Vimy Ridge. After a series of battles, the offensive ended on 16th May and though significant gains had been made, the breakthrough had not been achieved. However there had been a large number of casualties.
Private George Edwin Harrod was severely wounded on the 10th September 1917 and repatriated by hospital ship to England. However on 14th October he succumbed to his wounds and died at the age of 24 years. His grave, which he shares with his maternal grandmother Sarah Ann Bone, is in Lofthouse Church burial ground.
George Edwin Harrod was born in 1893, the second son and fifth child of Robert and Matilda Maria Harrod, of Foxholes, Methley near Castleford. Later the family moved to Leeds Road, Outwood, when his father was employed as a Contractors Cartman. At the time of the 1911 census George Edwin was living with his parents at 13, Stoney Croft, Lofthouse and employed as a labourer for a brick maker. His father was employed as a clay hewer / brick maker.