Born in 1890 Harry was the eldest child born to Samuel and Harriet Bruckshaw, the 1891 census shows the family living at 24 Wood Street, Samuel is working as a Felt Hatter. By 1901 the family had moved to 29 Lark Hill Road (St Mathews) Stockport, Harry has two sisters, Phyllis age 7 and Dorothy age 5. Harry must have enjoyed singing as he was a member of Mr Haydock’s Minstrel Troupe. Between April and June 1910, he married Lucy Winder, the 1911 census shows they had set up home at 42 John Street, Stockport and soon after they had a son, Eric. Harry was working as an iron moulder and Lucy worked as a cotton spinner.
Harry enlisted soon after war was declared and after initial training on the 17th February he was drafted to France to join the B.E.F.
On the 24th February while the 1st battalion were in the brigade reserve at Dranoutre, a 2nd Lt Woodier and a draft of reinforcements joined, this is when Harry probably joined his battalion. The battalion stayed in the divisional reserve until the 4th March where they took up the line between Ypres and St Eloi from the Northumberland Fusiliers. The battalion continually moved in and out of line throughout March and in to April. On the 24th April, they were at Zillebeke the battalion diary states: About 3:00pm situation on the N.E front of Ypres salient reported as critical and provisional orders to withdrawal issued. On the 25th they were relieved by the Bedfordshire Regiment and moved into Brigade reserve in dugouts on the west bank of Zillebeke lake, they were still there on the 29th the war diary continues; at about 5:30pm, the dugouts were shelled by heavy guns from a south west direction, causing 26 casualties (11 killed 15 wounded) Moved after dark into caseworks in ramparts of Ypres and Ecole De Bienfaisance just outside – ½ battalion in each and headquarters at the school.
Harry was amongst the 11 dead.
A few weeks later Harry’s widow Lucy received a letter from Private Richard Wilson.
Pte. Richard Wilson 11693 "B" Coy.
British Expeditionary Force 8/5/1915
Dear Mrs Bruckshaw
It is with deep regret I have to announce to you the trouble which I have to inform you about, that it is the terrible news I have to break to you. I don't really know how to tell you, but Harry was in what we call a dugout when the Germans started to shell us. I along with T. Bagley was with him and a man named Harry Plant from Stalybridge. A shell dropped on the dugout and killed Harry and the other 2 men and buried me, but I must thank God for being saved, for I was lucky, for altogether there were 12 men killed with the shelling and 12 wounded, and I am heartfelt sorry to be parted from him, for he was a good jovial mate ever since I knew him, and often talking about you and his little son, God bless him, he often said what a time we would have at your house and ours when the war was over, and I must say this, and hope you will accept my heartfelt sympathy in your great loss, but I may say this, he died with the heart of a soldier and a man, and the last words he spoke were to me, for when they started to shell us I said "Dig yourself in", he says "Ah. Dick, if we have to be hit, we shall get hit" and then the shell came and did hit us, I am sorry to say, but he died without a murmur, for it was too sudden for him to suffer any pain, but, Mrs Bruckshaw, as you say, it has been awful waiting for news, but, as I say, I am very sorry to have to send you this news, but I think it my duty for he was a good pal. We were just like two brothers together, and I might tell you how lonely I have been without him, and I hope and trust to God that you will and bear your great trouble and loss for the sake of your little son Eric, for I have two children and a wife of my own, and I know what a great trouble it has brought upon you, but I suppose it was God's will, and that must be done.
You might just give his and my best respects to his workmates which he often told me about, also to the Sunday-school teacher and his pals, for he did think a great deal about them also, for he told me about the roll of honour which he was so proud to have his name on in the school and I hope and trust he has gone where all good men and citizens go, as we are learned, to heaven, for he has gone with a good heart of a husband, a soldier and a man.
Well Mrs Bruckshaw I think I have told you what I can in this short letter, but before I close I do wish to convey to you my gravest heartfelt sympathy in your loss. If it is I can give you any further information respecting him, I shall only be so pleased to do so.
God bless him and forgive him all his sins, and take him to His throne above
From his old soldier pal,
We made a very nice soldier's grave for him. On it was written
Pte. Harry Bruckshaw
1st Batt. Cheshire Regiment Killed in Action
The two men that Pte. Wilson mentions in his letter, Thomas Bagley and Harry Plant are both named on this roll.
During the following years of fighting Harry's gave was lost and so he is named on the Menin Gate Memorial in Ieper (Ypres)
By the time the War Graves Commission were collating its casualty information in the early 1920s Lucy had remarried, she was now Lucy Hallam and was living at 3 Second Avenue Oozewood Road, Royton, Oldham.
Cheshire County Memorial Project would like to thank Catherine Cox for the picture of Harry.