Southam in WW1

Centenary Archive

Honouring those who died and all who served


Harry Askew (1892 – 1917)

Harry was serving with the 1st Battalion of the Rifle Brigade (2/903) in the Ypres Salient when he was killed. Harry enlisted at Winchester at the start of the war and was posted to France in January 1915. He gave as his next of kin Alfred his brother living far away in Jarrow on the River Tyne and his eldest brother Herbert.

Harry was the third son of Charles H. Askew a foreman cement worker and his wife Martha. The 1901 census shows the family living at Long Itchington where all the six children were born. The oldest daughter Edith aged 20 years was a dress maker working from home, whilst 18 year old Ethel was a housemaid in Coventry.  The oldest son Herbert aged 16 years was a labourer whilst Alfred, Harry and Violet, 13, 9 and 5 years respectively were still at school.

Sadly the parents died whilst the family were still young – the father in 1906 and mother in 1908.  How the young family coped is not known. The youngest Violet was only 10 years old when she lost her father.

Like his father before him, the eldest son Herbert worked at the cement works and he moved on from a labourer to be a ‘stationary boiler stoker’. Herbert had married Jessie in 1910 and living in Southam in Melton Villa, on Banbury Road.  In 1911 young Harry, aged 19 years is found lodging with the couple and he too worked at the cement works: he was a general labourer. Where the girls, Edith, Ethel and Violet were after the death of their parents, it has not been possible to discover.

April 27th 1915 war diaries show Harry and the 1st Battalion entrenched near Fortuin. There was heavy German shelling for two days and nights. The diaries record 103 casualties on 26th April and about 60 on April 27th the day that Harry was killed.

His remains were never recovered and his name is one of over 55,000 carved on the Menin Gate at Ypres.