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Herbert Heald

Date of birth: 1880
Date of death: 18.3.1917
Area: Wrenthorpe
Regiment: King’s Own Yorkshire Light Infantry
Family information: Husband of Ann Heald nee Hobson
Rank: Private
Service number: 201497

War Service

Herbert enlisted and became Private 201497 in the KOYLI 1st/4th Battalion. He was killed in action on 18th March 1917 and buried in the Etaples Military Cemetery. According to the Battalion War Diaries there were no casualties between 15th and the 24th March, so presumably Herbert was injured on or before the 15th when the Battalion was in the Neuve Chapelle sector where they were holding the front line. The Wakefield Express reported his death.
“Official intimation has been received of the death in action of Private Herbert Heald, who formerly lived at School Lane, Wrenthorpe. Heald who was 36 years of age, enlisted in the KOYLI in Dec. 1914, previous to which he worked as a miner at Newton Colliery. Deceased was a footballer and played for Belle Vue United at Rugby, he was also a member of the Wrenthorpe Working Men’s Club, whose flag is being flown at half-mast. He leaves a wife and five children, the eldest of whom is 16, but is unable to work owing to being totally blind.”
The Register of Soldiers’ Effects records his place of death as No 51 General Hospital Etaples. In 1917 his legatee was Herbert’s widow Ann but in 1920 when there was a further war gratuity due, the people listed are Frederick Leather and Charlotte Howgate who is “Sis & Gd of children”. Presumably this means guardian of children, so where is Ann? Further delving into the records show that Ann remarried on February 22nd 1919 at St Anne’s Wrenthorpe. Charlotte was Herbert’s eldest sister who also lived in Wrenthorpe with her husband Joseph and family. The Commonwealth War Graves Commission states that she was living in Bunker’s Hill. Sadly, Herbert’s daughter Edith Florence died aged 11 years in 1919 and was buried in St Paul’s Alverthorpe on 21st April. Her address is given as School Lane Wrenthorpe.

Family Life

Herbert Heald was born in about 1880 to Edwin and Mary and in 1881 they were living at Potovens with Edwin a horse keeper at the colliery. They had five children Charlotte (b1872), Hannah (b1874), Clara (b1876), Absalom (b1878) and Herbert.
By 1891 the census was more specific naming their abode as Bunker’s Hill. Charlotte had married Joseph Howgate and left home, but Hannah and Clara still lived with their parents and worked at the mill. Absalom and Herbert were at school while there were two new additions to the family – Alice (b1884) and Mary Elizabeth (b1886).
Herbert married Ann Hobson on 28th October 1899 at St Andrew’s Church Wakefield – Herbert was a 19-year-old miner, while Ann was 20.
Two years later the 1901 census records them as living at 4 Barr Street, Sandal with a son John Edwin aged 3 months. Herbert was a miner. The Wakefield Prison records show Herbert to have had a brush with the law in 1903 when he was convicted of assaulting Henry Exley. He was said to be a 22-year-old labourer, 5 feet 8 inches with brown hair and he could read and write. His birthplace was Wrenthorpe and his religion Church of England. He was fined £1 19s 6d.
In 1906 Herbert lost his brother Absalom who died in the Workhouse Infirmary in Wakefield aged just 27.
By 1911 the family were living at 21, Clarion Street, Belle Vue with 3 of their 4 children. Their eldest son was recorded and then crossed out again and in the last column (infirmity) the words “totally blind” had been written. With a bit further research John Heald aged 9 was found to be resident of the Blind School Broomhill, Sheffield. They had three other children Ann (b1904), Edith Florence (b1907) and George (b1909).

Photo of Etaples Military Cemetery. Rows of headstones in front of a white stone memorial with a tower to either side. Etaples Military Cemetery

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