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  • Christina Drummond

Lieutenant Harold Firth, 6th Battalion, The Yorkshire Regiment

Remembering the Fallen: on this day in 1917, Lieutenant Harold Firth, 6th Battalion, The Yorkshire Regiment, was killed in action at the Battle of Poelcapelle in Flanders. The son of the headmaster of Eastwood School in Keighley, he enlisted in the army at the outbreak of the Great War, and after training he was placed in charge of a Coast Defence Station. In 1915 he was gazetted to the Yorkshire Regiment as a Second Lieutenant and saw action in Gallipoli; he was promoted to Lieutenant in August of 1917, and at the time of his death was Acting Captain. He and his wife Dorothy were married in January of 1917 while he was home on leave from France.

The battle of Poelcapelle was fought in one day during the Third Battle of Ypres, and was the fourth attack to be launched. The three previous attacks (Menin Road Ridge, Polygon Ridge, and Broodseinde) had achieved their objectives in moving forward due to “bite and hold” tactics, and they also had been blessed with dry weather. At Poelcapelle there had been incessant rain for two days, the ground being already saturated and the field drains destroyed due to previous heavy fighting. Movement became difficult in the deep mud, as it was not possible for there to be stable platforms for the guns, and many shells disappeared into the mud either failing to explode or had the force of their explosion absorbed by the mud. The attack was therefore a failure, some little advancement was made, only for it to be lost later in the day. The attack was followed by the two battles of Passchendaele, which gave its name to the entire offensive.

Harold, from Keighley in Yorkshire, was 25 years old and is buried in the Poelcapelle British Cemetery.

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