Lance Corporal 14114 Harold Oakley

Killed in Action on Thursday, 24th August 1916, age unknown.
Commemorated on Pier and Face 5 A and 6 C of Thiepval Memorial, Somme, France.

3rd Bn., Worcestershire Regiment. 7th Brigade of 25th Division.

Born: Tipton, Enlisted: Worcester, Resident: Tipton.

First landed Balkans, 22nd June 1915.
Medal entitlement: 1914-15 Star, British War Medal, Victory Medal.
Soldier's Papers at National Archives did not survive.

Commemorated on the Tipton Library Memorial.
Commemorated here because he appears on a Tipton memorial.

Link to Commonwealth War Graves Site: www.cwgc.org/find-war-dead/casualty/806855/

Genealogical Data

The Soldier's Effects Register entry for Harold Oakley shows that his mother was named Sarah. Searching the 1901 and 1911 Census records, the only Harold Oakley born in Tipton with a mother named Sarah is as shown below. This is not definitive proof, but no alternative can be found. This shows that Harold would have been just 15 years of age when he enlisted and just 17 years of age when he was killed - very young but not exceptional.

Birth of Harold Oakley registered June quarter 1899 at Dudley.

1901 Census
4 Coneygree Road, Tipton, Staffs.
Arthur Oakley (38, Foundry Engine Driver, born Tipton), his wife Sarah (29, born Tipton), and their 4 children: Arthur (9, born Tipton), Florence (7, born Tipton), Gertrude (4, born Tipton), and Harold (2, born Tipton).

1911 Census
3 Fisher Street, Dudley Port, Tipton, Staffs.
Arthur Oakley (49, Engine Driver at Iron Founders, born Toll End, Tipton), his wife Sarah (39, born Coneygree, Tipton), and their 7 children: Arthur (19, Moulder, born Tividale St, Tipton), Annie Florence (17, Tailoress in Wholesale Clothiers, born Tividale St, Tipton), Gertrude May (14, Dress Maker, born Summer Row, Tipton), Harold (12, School, born Coneygree Rd, Tipton), Lilian (9, born Coneygree Rd, Tipton), Leonard (7, born Coneygree Rd, Tipton), and Reginald N. (2, born Fisher St, Tipton).

Personal Data

Harold Oakley initially landed in the Balkans on 22nd June 1915; his Medal Roll entry shows that this was with the 9th Worcesters.

After Harold's death his mother and sole legatee, Sarah, received his outstanding army pay and allowances of £3/8/4d (3 pounds, 8 shillings and 4 pence) in January 1917, and also received his War Gratuity of £8/10/0d (8 pounds, 10 shillings) in September 1919. Harold's date of death and the value of the War Gratuity suggests that he enlisted in August 1914.

Action resulting in his death

The Leipzig Salient and the Leipzig Redoubt followed the natural contours of the land, holding the high ground as the land fell away into the Ancre valley, about 3/4 of a mile to the south of Thiepval. Some initial success had been achieved in early July 1916 in capturing a portion of the front line of the Leipzig Salient, but the inner defences - the Leipzig Redoubt - were still in German hands.

The 3rd Worcesters returned to the Leipzig Salient on 21st August when they provided fire support to a 1st Wiltshires attack; the main action of the Worcesters came between the 24th and 26th August. On the 24th the 3rd Worcesters and the 1st Wiltshires attacked the strong German position known as "Lemberg Trench". Fierce bombing exchanges took place at both flanks as the Germans attempted to retake the ground, but the Worcesters bombers held them back. Despite the German counter-attacks and artillery fire, the Worcesters were able to consolidate the captured trench and to maintain the gain.

On 24th August, 1 Officer and 31 Other Ranks were killed. This number included Lance-Corporal Harold Oakley and Private William Amos, both Tipton men. Neither has a known grave and are commemorated on the Thiepval Memorial to the Missing.

Newspaper Cuttings