Serjeant 823 Harry Osmond Callear

Callear Harry 96 436x600Callear Harry 96 408x600

Killed in Action on Saturday, 1st July 1916, age 27.
Buried in Grave II. G. 4. at Cerisy-Gailly French National Cemetery, Somme, France.

10th Bn., Lincolnshire Regiment. 101st Brigade of 34th Division.
Formerly 14434 South Staffordshire Regiment.

Son of Councillor James and Mrs Hannah Callear, of Ocker Hill, Tipton, Staffs.
Born: Tipton, Enlisted: Brierley Hill, Resident: Tipton.

First landed France & Flanders, 10th January 1916.
Medal entitlement: British War Medal, Victory Medal.
Soldier's Papers at National Archives survived and transcribed.

Commemorated on the Tipton Library, and St. Mark's memorials.
Commemorated here because he appears on a Tipton memorial.

Link to Commonwealth War Graves Site: www.cwgc.org/find-war-dead/casualty/260943/

Genealogical Data

Birth of Harry Osmond Callear registered December quarter 1888 in Dudley.

1891 Census
112 Toll End Road Tipton, Staffs.
James Callear (38, Shingler, born Tipton), his wife Hannah (34, born Tipton), and their 5 children: Ann Elizabeth Jane (11, born Tipton), Ernest Reginald (6, born Tipton) Arthur B. (4, born Tipton) Harry O. (2, born Tipton) Dora (5 months, born Tipton) - next door at 111 Toll End Rd were the Gittins family.

1901 Census
4 Ocker Hill Road, Tipton, Staffs.
James Callear (48, Ironworks Shingler, born Tipton), his wife Hannah (44, born Tipton), and their 6 children: Ann Elizabeth Jane (21, born Tipton), Ernest Reginald J. (16, Steel Machine Minder, born Tipton), Arthur B. (14, Telephone Clerk, born Tipton), Harry O. (12, born Tipton) Dora Ellen (10, born Tipton) and Evelyn H. (2, born Tipton).

1911 Census
Harry was lodging at 27 King Street, Port Talbot, the household of David Thomas, a 41 yr old Boot and Shoe Dealer, a married man with two children.
Harry Callear 22 year old Teacher at an Elementary School with Glamorgan County Council.

Personal Data

The Great Bridge School Log Book records that on 4th September 1914 Harry Callear "was absent seeking enlistment". Just over two weeks later, on the 21st September, "Harry Callear, an uncertified teacher, has enlisted and left Standard IV, about 50 boys, without a teacher".

Harry attested with the South Staffs on 21st September 1914 at Brierley Hill. He was 25 years and 343 days old, and was employed as a School Teacher having done a 3 year 'apprenticeship' with Tipton Education Committee. He was 5 feet 11 inches tall with a 37½-inch chest, weighed 154 pounds, his physical development was described as 'fair', and he had 6/6 vision. On 6th October 1914, he joined the 10th South Staffs at Lichfield.

Peter Bryant's book 'The Grimsby Chums' says: "At Tipton Harry Callear, a teacher at Great Bridge Council School, left his job, and with his friend Horace Gittins, tried to join the 10th South Staffordshires at Lichfield. But as there were no more vacancies in this battalion, they were directed to Grimsby to join the 10th Lincolnshires - the Grimsby Chums."

Callear & Gittens were part of a batch of approximately 120 South Staffs men who all formed part of 'D' Company (Commanding Officer W Vignoles) when they joined the Chums. Notable in them was Harold Bache an England and West Bromwich Albion footballer. It is probable that Tipton men Morris and Lycett joined with Callear and Gittins; only Lycett was to survive.

The transfer from the South Staffs to the 10th Lincolnshire took place on 8th October 1914. Harry was promoted rapidly, Lance Corporal after just three weeks on 22nd October, Corporal a week later on 29th October, Lance Sergeant two days later on the 31st October, and four weeks later Sergeant on 29th November. Harry was in the process of being sent to Officer Training School in 1916, but was held back for the Battle of the Somme commencing 1st July 1916.

After training in Grimsby, Brockelsby Park, Ripon (where the 34th Division was formed) and Salisbury Plain, the Chums crossed the Channel to Havre on 10th/11th January 1916. In February, the Chums were in the area of Armentieres for their initial instruction in trench warfare. This instruction was obviously successful as during March they were doing short turns of duty in the front line, taking some casualties, with four men being killed. On 4th April 1916, the British opened up with a severe bombardment on a fortified German position opposite the Chums near Fleurbaix. As usual, the Germans retaliated with their own bombardment which fell on the junction between 'B' and 'D' companies (Harry was in 'D' company). It is likely that Harry was wounded in this affair as from 14th to 21st April 1916, Harry was at Moore Barracks Military Hospital and Shorncliffe Military hospital (near Folkestone) with "Contusions right ankle".

De Ruvigny: (mis-spelt Callaer, and only mentions 10th South Staffs!)
CALLAER Harry Osmond, Sgt 10th (Service) Battalion The South Staffordshire Regt., son of James Callaer, of Ocker Hill, Tipton, Councillor and Estate Agent; born 1888; educated Ocker Hill Council School (scholar); after training as a Teacher, served under Neath Education Committee at Port Talbot, Swansea Bay, for 5 years, and then for about four years in the Great Bridge Council School; voluntarily enlisted in the 10th Bn. South Staffordshire Regiment early in Sept. 1914, and trained at Lichfield; served with the Expeditionary Force in France from Dec. 1915; in May 1916 was recommended by his Colonel for a commission, but met his death before the necessary papers could be completed, being killed at the Battle of the Somme, 1 July, 1916. The Quartermaster Sergeant of his battalion wrote: "It will be a little comfort to you to know that he died leading his men into action, and that out of 64 men of his platoon on that day, only 10 came back uninjured." Unmarried.

Callear Harry Signature 96 700x94

Action resulting in his death

After Harry was wounded in April 1916, he was obviously back with the Grimsby Chums by 1st July, as he was to take part in the "First Day of the Battle of the Somme", at La Boisselle. The Chums were opposite a strong-point in the German lines which had been undermined by the specialist mining company of the Royal Engineers, and after an enormous explosion at 7.28am was to become Lochnagar Crater. At 7.30am, all along the Somme front the British troops rose out of their lines and walked towards the German lines, which were supposed to have been annihilated. Harry's 'D' Company did not advance at 7.30am, they were the second wave sent to support the attack at 9.00am. By then the 'element of surprise', if ever there was any, had gone and the German machine gunners had control of No Man's Land.

From Peter Chapman's book 'Grimsby's Own': "At 9am, 'D' Company was in turn committed to the battle... Sgt. Harry Callear, one of the Battalion's most popular NCO's was shot within yards of his start line, of 64 in his platoon only 10 were unhurt."

The 34th Division suffered the heaviest losses on July 1st, and the 10th Lincolns - the Grimsby Chums, lost 15 Officers and 487 Other Ranks killed, missing and wounded. Harry's pal Horace Gittins was also killed on 1st July, his body was never found and he is commemorated on the Thiepval Memorial.

For a number of years Harry's body was also lost. However sometime in the 1920's (before 1925) his remains were uncovered either by reclamation parties or a local farmer. All the local cemeteries were 'closed' and the nearest 'open' cemetery was at Cerisy-Gailly, some 6 miles distant from La Boisselle. Unfortunately Harry's father was never to know that his son's body had been found, as he had died in 1918. The CWGC kindly checked their records and it was recorded that Harry was previously buried at point: 57d. X.20. a.3.4.

After Harry's death, the staff and pupils collected money to purchase a memorial plaque for Harry. This was unveiled in October 1916 by Joe Davis V.C., an old boy of the school, and John Norton-Griffiths, the local M.P. This was on the wall of a classroom (presumably Harry's old classroom) for 90 years until removed as the old school was being demolished. This was renovated and placed in the entrance lobby of the new Great Bridge School, along with a portrait of Harry. He is not forgotten.

Newspaper Cuttings

Tipton Herald 26 September 1914
Mr Horace Thomas Gittins, whose home is at Ocker Hill, Tipton, and who has represented the Wolverhampton "Express and Star" in the Brierley Hill district for the past three years, on Monday, in company with his friend Mr Harry Osmond Callear, son of Councillor Callear of Tipton, enlisted in the 10th South Staffordshire Non-manual battalion. They were sworn in by Mr W.F. Taylor and Mr David Clark at Brierley Hill Police Court, and were afforded a very warm send-off. Mr Taylor stated that they were setting a good example, and hoped they would both be successful, and would return home safe and sound. Mr Gittins afterwards shook hands with Mr Wickham King (magistrate's clerk), Mr Sharp (assistant clerk), Supt. Johnson and his press confreres, who all wished him the best possible luck.
Sergt.-Major Booth informs us that Mr Horace Gittins, the Brierley Hill representative of the Wolverhampton "Star", and My Harry Callear, son of Coucillor Callear, of Tipton, who enlisted in the new 10th battalion (South Staffords) for non-manual on Monday, were the first new recruits for that battalion to arrive at Lichfield. The Sergt-Major received a very encouraging letter from them on Thursday. In it they write: "We are very pleased to inform you that matters are going very well here, Major Pearson, as expected, despatched us to Lichfield, but on arrival no one seemed to know anything about the non-manuals. The Sergt-Major kept us for the night, and the Colr-Sergt, and another officer turned out of their beds for us. We received unexpected courtesy. They were sending us back on Tuesday for a few days, but nine Walsall non-manuals put in an appearance, and of course we stayed. We are doing six hours drill, and I can assure you we feel the benefit already. Of course we have got to keep our eyes open, but I think we can be trusted to take our corner with the other recruits. We are very pleased we came. You can tell the boys it will be the making of them, and we would not come back at any price. You can make this known any way you feel disposed."

Tipton Herald 29 July 1916
Mr Bannister said that Councillor Callear was absent by reason of the fact that his son, Sergeant Harry Callear, who was a teacher at Great Bridge Council School, had succumbed from wounds received in battle. He was a bright and courageous young man, and it was a big blow to hear of his death. He was sure the sympathy of the council would go out to the family.
The Chairman said they were sorry to hear the sad news. A week ago, at the Parks meeting, Mr Callear informed them that his son had been seriously wounded. He was a young man of excellent character, who had worked under the Education Committee for a long time. He gave his services freely to King & Country, and had now laid down his life in the cause. He moved that the Clerk convey their sympathy to Councillor Callear and his family. The members carried the resolution in silence.
Joined up with Horace Gittens (Teacher - 2nd teacher kia first Morris ??) A week ago, Cncllr Callear informed that son was seriously wounded (Chums book says killed outright).

Tipton Herald 5 August 1916
In the death in the Great War of Councillor Callear's son, one is reminded of the fact that he is the second teacher to give his life for his country. (first one was Arthur Round ?)

Tipton Herald 5 August 1916
Two young men, whose homes were at Ocker Hill, enlisted together a few days after the outbreak of war and served in the same battalion until the great push of July, when on the fatal 1st of that month they met their death when facing the foe as true Britishers do. They were Corporal Horace Gittins and Sergt. Harry Callear, a son of Councillor James Callear. We gave a short account of Corpl. Gittins' death last week, and this week we give a short sketch of Sergt. Callear. Early in September 1914, he and his friend Horace, enlisted in the 10th South Staffs non-manual battalion, and were sworn in together at Brierley Hill Police Court. Mr W.F. Taylor who presided, told the young men that they were setting a good example, and hoped they would return home safe and sound. They remained a few days at Lichfield, but as the 10th South Staffs had got its complement of men they helped to form the nucleus of a new battalion being formed at Lincoln. It was first called the Chums battalion and afterwards the 10th Lincolns.
Private Harry Callear, although a most genial and popular young man, took to the serious side of soldiering like a fish to water, and he determined to do his best. That he succeeded is proved by the fact that he was promoted to the rank of Sergeant after he had been with the Army about twelve weeks; in another fortnight he was made Platoon Sergeant. He was then selected with another Sergeant to proceed to York to receive training in musketry. He was appointed lecturer to his battalion, and in this capacity he greatly excelled. His practice as a teacher in inculcating oral knowledge would no doubt stand him in good stead. He proceeded to France at the end of 1915 with his battalion but three months ago he was sent for by his Colonel and told to make an application for a commission. He saw the necessary officer in Lincoln, and the arrangements were made for him to return in two months and take the commission. The Colonel said: "I shall expect you back in England in two months time." But the "great push" of July came and the gallant young teacher-sergeant made his charge against the foe, and died manfully doing his duty. The necessary papers for his commission were all ready, with the exception of a single signature, but fate had intervened.
The gallant sergeant was right in a front line trench, and was apparently killed on July 1st. Writing to the deceased's friends, the Company Quartermaster-Sergeant E. Hannibal says: "From the very first day at Lichfield we were friends, and gradually climber the ladder together. We were both Staffordshire boys. It will be a little comfort to you to know that he died leading his men into action - a more glorious death, if death must come on the battlefield, could not be wished for. The very least I could say of him is that he was a thorough gentleman - the most I would not try to put down on paper. Everybody, without exception, in our company, will feel his loss and his name will always be a treasured memory to me."
The first intimation that Councillor Callear had of his son's death was the return on July 23rd of two letters marked on the envelope "killed," and on the next day the communication from the Quartermaster-Sergeant. Of 64 men in the platoon, on that day only 10 came back uninjured.
The late Sergeant Callear was a teacher at Great Bridge Council School at the outbreak of war. As a boy he was a scholar at Ocker Hill Council School. After early training as a teacher he went to Port Talbot, Swansea Bay, where for five years he was under the Neath Education Committee. He was then appointed to Great Bridge Council School, where he remained for three or four years. He will be sadly missed by his parents, he being the only son at home. He was bright and attractive personality. He was in his 28th year, tall and stalwart, and would have had a successful future, whether as a teacher or soldier. He entered Ocker Hill Wesleyan Sunday School when about four years of age, and was Sunday School organist and teacher.

Tipton Herald 7 October 1916
Mr C.H. Greenwood (headmaster of Great Bridge Council School) wrote stating that they proposed placing a mural tablet in the school in memory of the late Sergt. Callear, who was a teacher there.

Tipton Herald 28 October 1916
Following the unveiling of the tablet to Sergeant Joe Davies V.C. at Great Bridge Council School, the Chairman of the Tipton Education Committee (Councillor J. Arthur Shepherd) will unveil a tablet in the same school to the memory of the late Sergeant Harry O. Callear, who was a teacher at the Great Bridge Boy's School until he joined up in 1914. It will be remembered that the gallant Sergeant was killed in action on July 1st - the first day of the big push on the Somme, when more than a thousand British soldiers were killed. (Editor Note: actually almost 20 thousand.)

Gt Bridge School log book 28 October 1916
The Chairman of the Education Committee (Councillor Shepherd) unveiled a Tablet and Portrait of our late teacher Sergt Callear who was killed at the Battle of the Somme July 1st 1916. This Tablet and Portrait were subscribed for by the boys and the teachers of this block of schools.

Tipton Herald 27 January 1917
At Ocker Hill Wesleyan Sunday School, the Rev. F.G. Grey said he was pleased to receive and accept the photographs on behalf of the Sunday School. At the same time he dedicated a roll of heroes who had also fallen, and read their names.
Mr. and Mrs. Jones, who had presented the photographs, unveiled the photographs simultaneously, Mr. Jones remarking that when he heard of the two lads falling, and being connected with the Sunday School as boys together, he would like to perpetuate their memory by having their photographs hung in the school.
Councillor J. Callear, who spoke under great emotion, expressed his thanks for Mr. Jones' kindness.

Tipton Herald 29 December 1917
Private H.T. Lycett, son of Mr. and Mrs. Herbert Lycett, of Crown Villa, Ocker Hill, who has recently been paying a visit to his parents, joined the 10th Lincolns at the inception of the war, and is the only survivor of five of his chums who went from Tipton. They include Lieutenant Harold Morris, of Westbourne, Castle Road, Tipton, Sergeant H.O. Callear, and Quartermaster-Sergeant Horace Gittins. Although Private Lycett has taken part in many engagements, up to the present he has escaped any serious injuries and is quite optimistic in respecting the future. To use his own words, he says he fancies he has a sporting chance now. His visit has been much enjoyed by his parents and many friends, as he is highly respected. He is geniality personified.

Tipton Herald 4 January 1918
Funeral of James Callear, leaving widow, two sons and two daughters. His son Sgt Harry Callear killed.