Gunner 177127 Harold Bertram Potts

Potts Harold Bertram 96 409x600Potts Harold Bertram 96 395x600

Died of Wounds on Friday, 27th September 1918, age 31.
Buried in Grave R. III. D. 1. at St. Sever Cemetery Extension, Rouen, Seine-Maritime, France.

Royal Garrison Artillery, 233th Siege Battery.

Son of Joseph and Anna Maria Potts, of 34, Stanley Rd., Wakefield, Yorks.
Born: Goole, Enlisted: Tipton, Resident: Wakefield.

First landed France & Flanders, June 1918.
Medal entitlement: British War Medal, Victory Medal.
Soldier's Papers at National Archives did not survive.

Not commemorated on any Tipton memorial.
Commemorated here because he was Tipton Council's Secretary of Education.

Link to Commonwealth War Graves Site: www.cwgc.org/find-war-dead/casualty/520209/

Genealogical Data

Birth of Harold Bertram Potts registered December quarter 1887 in Goole.

1901 Census
Navigation House, Ravensthorpe, Dewsbury, Yorks.
Joseph Potts (43, Agent to the Aire and Calder Navigation, born Cawthorne), his wife Anna Maria (42, born Norton, Yorks), and their 7 children: Herbert C. (19, Confectioner's Clerk, born Goole), Charles C. (14, Clerk at Rag Warehouse, born Goole), Harold B. (13, School, born Goole), Elsie A. (11, School, born Goole), Joseph A. (10, School, born Goole), Edith A. (6, School, born Goole), and Kathleen (5, born Dwesbury).

1911 Census
Navigation House, Ravensthorpe, Dewsbury, Yorks.
Joseph Potts (53, Agent to Canal Company, born Silkstone), his wife Anna Maria (51, born Norton, Yorks), and 5 of their 9 surviving children of 11: Harold Bertram (23, Corporation Clerk, born Goole), Elsie Ada (21, born Goole), Joseph Alfred (20, County Council Clerk, born Goole), Edith Alice (16, Dyer's Clerk, born Airmyn, Yorks), and Kathleen (15, born Savile Town, Yorks).

Personal Data

Harold Bertram Potts was a Yorkshireman who had joined the Tipton Education Committee in 1913, and by the outbreak of war was the Secretary of Education. He had stated his willingness to join the army from September 1914, but the Education Committee thought him indispensible, and argued successfully for his exemption. This situation continued for 3 years, as it was September 1917 before he joined the Royal Garrison Artillery.

Parkes' "History of Tipton" has an entry for Harold Bertram Potts, as follows:
Born at Goole, in Yorkshire, in 1885, he was for nine years under the Leeds Education Authority and three years under the West Riding (Yorks.) County Council Education Committee. He was appointed Secretary of Education for Tipton 1st May 1914, and is a capable official. He has volunteered to fight for his country, but his services are regarded by the Committee as indispensable to the requirements of local education.

Harold was a Freemason being a member of the St. Bartholomew's Lodge (Number 696) which was based in Wednesbury, and is still in existence. He is remembered on their Masonic Great War Project at: https://www.masonicgreatwarproject.org.uk/legend.php?id=2460

After Harold's death, his outstanding army pay and allowances amounted to £8/5/4d (8 pounds, 5 shillings and 4 pence); this was paid to his mother, Anna M., in January 1919. His War Gratuity was £3/0/0d (3 pounds exactly), this was also paid to his mother in December 1919. The value of the War Gratuity suggests that Harold had enlisted within the previous 12 months.

Action resulting in his death

Almost 12 months after H. Bertram Potts joined the Royal Garrison Artillery, and only 3 months after he arrived in France, he was wounded in action in September 1918. He was severely wounded in the knee, most likely from counter-battery artillery fire as the R.G.A. operates some way behind the front. He was evacuated to Rouen where there were a great many medical facilities. Despite having a leg amputated, he died from his wounds on 27th September 1918 at No. 3 Stationary Hospital, Rouen. He is buried in St. Sever Cemetery Extension, Rouen.

Newspaper Cuttings

Tipton Herald September 5th 1914
The Education Secretary, Mr H.B. Potts, has intimated that he is perfectly willing to join the colours if the Education Committee could make arrangements for his work to be carried on while he was away. The Committee noted that it was very good on the part of the Secretary to make the offer, and they would have to see what they could do.

Tipton Herald November 13th 1915
The decision of Tipton Education Committee is that they cannot consent to Mr H.B. Potts, the secretary, joining the forces as he is indispensable to the work of carrying on the schools. This is the only decision the committee could come to.

Tipton Herald February 26th 1916
The Secretary of the Tipton Education Committee (Mr H. Bertram-Potts) is a single man, thirty years of age, who gave in his name as willing to serve in the Forces many months ago. However it is expected that the local Committee will decide to recommend to the Tribunal that his services are still indispensable.

Tipton Herald March 10 1917
Considerable diversity of opinion exists as to whether Mt H. Bertram Potts, who is single, should be permitted to go into the Army. From the start of the war, the Secretary of the Committee has placed himself wholly in the hands of the members so that if anyone is to blame at all it is not to be the gentleman mostly concerned. Mr Potts is in his thirty-second year, and so does not come under the limit as to 30 years. The matter will come before the Tribunal on 19th inst when the Military representative will apply for a review of the conditional exemption certificate previously granted. It is suggested that in view of the contingencies the Committee should secure a well-educated young lady as Assistant Secretary, who should be thoroughly trained in the duties of the office, so that in the event of the war being prolonged, she would be able to transact the duties while the Secretary himself was with the Colours. A young man could hardly be appointed because at the age of 18 every male unfortunately becomes a soldier.
The Chairman (Councillor J. Arthur Shephard) said that in private they had discussed the question of the Secretary (Mr H. B. Potts); the Military Representative of the Tribunal having given notice that he would apply for a revision of the exemption from military service granted on application from the Committee some time ago. After careful consideration, the Committee had decided unanimously to support further exemption being granted to the Secretary. He (the Chairman) was authorised to go before the tribunal for that purpose.

Tipton Herald March 24th 1917
The Chairman of Tipton Education Committee, Councillor J. Arthur Shephard, applied on behalf of the Committee for exemption for the Secretary of the Tipton Education Committee (Mr H.B. Potts). He was 31 years of age, single, and passed for general service. He was appointed three years ago, before the outbreak of war. Besides head teachers, there were 130 assistant teachers and 7,000 scholars. The assistant secretary had gone to the colours, and Mr Potts was without an assistant. Conditional exemption was granted in February last.
Mr A.J. Ash: "Have you tried to replace this man?"
Councillor Shephard: "It is a question of sufficient time. The books have to be got ready for audit."
The Chairman went on to explain that it was work of a highly technical nature. It was impossible to get anyone to do this class of work. There was an opinion that they might get an ordinary clerk to do it, but the Committee most emphatically said that it was impossible. That was after consultation with the Chief Inspector.
Mr H.B. Potts, in reply to Mr Ash, said that he came from Leeds, where he had been in the Education Offices, and had served an apprenticeship to the various departments.
Councillor Shephard said that Mr Potts was secretary of the Evening Classes, honorary secretary to the local War Savings Association, and honorary secretary to the Nurses Training Home and Nursing Association.
The Clerk: "You know what Dame Rumour tells, that if Mr Potts had to join the Army there is a man you could place in the office.
Mr Shephard said that the last secretary resigned. He did not agree with what the clerk had suggested.
The Tribunal granted two months "final".
Mr Shephard was understood to say they would appeal.

Tipton Herald September 29th 1917
On Monday evening an interesting event took place in Dudley Port Council Schools, when Mr H.B. Potts, the Education Secretary, was presented with several gifts from the teachers of Tipton. Mr Potts is temporarily vacating his post in order to join the forces, and the teachers thought they could not let the occasion pass without giving him some token of their esteem.
The presentation was made by Miss Clee, the president of the local branch of the National Union of Teachers, and on behalf of the teachers she wished Mr Potts "God speed, and a safe return." She spoke of the cordial relations which had always existed between the teachers and the secretary, the help he had been to then, and how they appreciated his efforts on their behalf. She was supported by Messrs Greenwood, Yorke and Woodhall. Mr Greenwood mentioned the difficult task which the secretary had had to face on coming to Tipton, and how well he had done. He had proved himself in all things a splendid fellow, and he prophesised that Mr Potts would go far.
Mr Yorke and Mr Woodhall both testified to the good feeling between the teachers and Mr Potts, and the latter especially mentioned the high idea which Mr Potts always brought before the Education Committee, and how he endeavoured to lead them to view educational matters from a much higher standpoint.
Miss Clee then handed to Mr Potts the following from the teachers:
1. A magnificent silver wristwatch, on the back of which was engraved "Presented to Mr H.B. Potts as a token of respect by the teachers of Tipton. September 1917.
2. Case of hairbrushes.
3. Case of pipes. In presenting this, Miss Clee said she hoped it would not be long before Mr Potts smoked from one of them "the pipe of peace" and how pleased the teachers would be to welcome him back again.
Mr Potts, in accepting the gifts, said that he sincerely appreciated the kindness of the teachers, and felt deeply the honour which was shown to him. He was proud to accept the presents, but he valued still more the good wishes of the givers. He thanked them from the bottom of his heart, and wherever he might go he should always think kindly of Tipton teachers, and further their interests. There was nothing he liked better than for all the staff to be contented.
In closing the proceedings, Miss Clee mentioned that every teacher in Tipton had subscribed to the presentation fund.

Tipton Herald October 6th 1917
Mr H. Bertram Potts, Secretary to the Education Committee, joins the forces at the end of this week.

Tipton Herald September 28th 1918 (Council Report)
Mr H B Potts wounded.
The Chairman said he had received an interesting letter from the secretary of the Education Committee (Mr. H.B. Potts) who was in the army. Three or four days after writing the letter he was shot in the knee, and was now in a base hospital in France. He (the Chairman) proposed to write on their behalf hoping that he would have a speedy recovery.

Tipton Herald October 5th 1918
Tipton Education Secretary Dies of Wounds.
Much sorrow was felt when the news reached Tipton late on Monday night that Mr H. Bertram Potts (Gunner, R.G.A.) who was Secretary to the Tipton Education Committee, had died at Rouen Hospital from wounds received in action. The deceased received some very bad leg wounds, and the limb was amputated, but death took place on Friday last, 27th September. (It was mentioned at the meeting of the Council on the previous Tuesday that he had been wounded).
The late Mr Potts entered the educational world as a clerk in the Yorkshire Education Office, and was subsequently engaged in connection with higher education at Leeds under the Education Committee of that city. He came to Tipton in 1913, in succession to Mr E. Richards as secretary to the Education Committee, and joined the Army in September 1917. He was last present at the monthly meeting in September of that year. He had always been willing to join the Army, but the Committee by a unanimous resolution, asked him to remain in their service, and when the application to the Local Tribunal was refused, the Chairman was instructed to appeal to the Country Tribunal. Eventually, as Mr Potts was only 30 years of age, single, and in Grade I, a date was granted at which civic duties must cease, and he joined up in September of last year as stated. He was a son of the late Mr Joseph Potts, and of Mrs Potts of Stanley Road, Wakefield. Several other brothers are in the Army.
The deceased soldier was of attractive personality, and was most popular amongst all classes. He possessed considerable ability. If he had not fallen in the war, he would shortly have been in England studying for a commission. His mother and fiancée were about to start for France to visit him in hospital when a telegram came to say that he had passed away. He had been about 3 months in France.
Roll of Honour.
POTTS. On September 27th, 1918 at the Third Stationary Hospital, Rouen, from wounds received in action. Gunner H. Bertram Potts, R.G.A. (Secretary to the Education Committee, Tipton), the dearly-loved son of the late Mr Joseph Potts, and of Mrs Potts, 34 Stanley Road, Wakefield.