Private 536733 Harry Capewell

 Capewell Harry 96 387x600

Killed in Action on Wednesday, 28th November 1917, age 22.
Commemorated on Panel 12 of Cambrai Memorial, Louverval, Nord, France.

1st/15th County of London Battalion TF (Prince of Wales' Own Civil Service Rifles). 140th Brigade of 47th Division.

Son of Mr and Mrs Capewell of 237 Great Bridge Street, West Bromwich.
Born: Tipton, Enlisted: West Bromwich, Resident: Unknown.

First landed France & Flanders, 22nd August 1917.
Medal entitlement: British War Medal, Victory Medal.
Soldier's Papers at National Archives survived and transcribed.

Commemorated on the St. Peter's, Greets Green, and St. Paul's, Golds Hill memorials.
Commemorated here because identified as Tipton on 'Soldiers Died in the Great War'.

Link to Commonwealth War Graves Site: www.cwgc.org/find-war-dead/casualty/1751768/

Genealogical Data

Harry Capewell was born 11th June 1895.

1901 Census
95 Fisher Street, Great Bridge (In St Peter's, Greet's Green parish)
William Capewell (34, Gas Fitter, born West Bromwich), his wife Mary E. (34, born West Bromwich), and their 4 children: George (14, Iron Moulder, born West Bromwich), Herbert (11, born West Bromwich), Harry (6, born Tipton), and Fred (3, born Tipton).

1911 Census
95 Fisher Street, Great Bridge (In St Peter's, Greet's Green parish)
William George Capewell (43, Gas Fitter, born West Bromwich), his wife Mary Elizabeth (44, born West Bromwich), and 4 of their 5 surviving children of 6: Herbert (21, Tube Worker, born West Bromwich), Harry (16, Clerk, born Tipton), Fred (12, Newsboy, born Tipton), and Arthur (9, School, born Tipton).

Personal Data

Harry Capewell attested 17th November 1915 under the Derby Scheme, and was posted to the Army Reserve until mobilised on May 30th 1917. He was 5 feet 7½ inches tall with a 35-inch chest, weighed 120 pounds, and had perfect eyesight and good physical development. He was employed as a Clerk, and his religion was Church of England, appropriate as he was the organist at St. Paul's church.

He embarked from Southampton on 21st August 1917, landing in Havre, France on 22nd August 1917. He was initially at the No.8 Infantry Base depot at Le Havre, before joining his unit; he was killed in action just over 3 months later on 28th November 1917.

After Harry's death, his outstanding army pay and allowances amounted to £5/5/2d (5 pounds, 5 shillings and 2 pence); this was paid to his father, William G., in May 1918. His War Gratuity was £3/0/0d (3 pounds exactly), this was also paid to his father in November 1919. The value of the War Gratuity suggests that Harry had enlisted within the previous 12 months.

Action resulting in his death

The Battle of Cambrai commenced on November 20th 1917 with the objective of breaking the Hindenburg Line and encircling Cambrai, an important railway centre for the Germans. On the extreme left of the attack was Bourlon Wood which gave the German defenders the strategic advantage of greater height and hence observation. Despite major advances on November 20th, Bourlon and Bourlon Wood were not taken, sowing the seeds of the failure of the Battle of Cambrai.

Further attempts to capture Bourlon and Bourlon Wood between November 23rd and 27th all ended in failure. During the afternoon of November 27th, General Byng ordered the offensive to cease and the 62nd Division, who had lost so many men in the attacks on Bourlon, to be relieved by the 47th Division. Private Capewell belonged to the 1/15th Battalion, London Regiment who were part of 140th Brigade of 47th (2nd London) Division, the relieving Division.

The Germans were planning a counter-attack on November 30th, but on November 28th as the 47th Division was relieving the 62nd Division, the Germans began an intensive bombardment of Bourlon Wood with 16,000 rounds of gas and high explosive. Casualties were high for both Divisions, and it was on this day that Harry Capewell was killed in action. He has no known grave and is commemorated on the Cambrai Memorial.

Newspaper Cuttings

Tipton Herald December 29th 1917
An official intimation has been received from the War Office by Mr and Mrs George Capewell, of 237 Great Bridge Street, West Bromwich, of the death in action on November 28th of their son, Private Harry Capewell, L.L.C.M. Private Capewell, who was only 22 years of age, was well known throughout Great Bridge and Tipton. When a boy he took to music and was under the tuition of Mr S. Healey, organist of St. Paul's, Dudley Port, and he made rapid advancement, taking examination after examination with honours. He was a delightful pianist and was in great demand for concerts. He also made rapid progress at the organ, and was appointed organist at St. Paul's in succession to his teacher. He gave up the organ at St Paul's when he joined the army last Whitsuntide. He joined a battalion of the London Regiment, and had only been in training for five weeks when he came home on his final and only leave before proceeding to France, where he was killed by the explosion of a shell. His loss will be keenly felt by a large circle of friends in Great Bridge.