HAROLD BUCKLEY OUSEY
Date of Death:03/08/1916
Unit:21st Bn.(Tyneside Scottish)
attached to 13th Bn.Durham Light Infantry
Panel Ref:Pier&Face 10/11 or 12 B
Harold Buckley was born in 1895 in Royton. His parents were Joseph, who worked in the cotton industry, and Elizabeth Ann. He was their only child and at some point when Harold was very young, or even not yet born, his father died at a young age (it's not proved possible to pinpoint when but Joseph was 21 years old when married in 1892). Elizabeth Ann remarried on October 21st 1899 at St.Leonard's in Middleton to Edwin Ousey, a cotton spinner. Harold's name now became Harold Buckley Ousey. A half sister, Marion, was born in 1900 and a year later at the time of the census they were living at 2 Brookland Street.
Another sibling arrived in 1907 with the birth of Ernest. By 1911 the Ouseys were at 820 Rochdale Road and Harold was working as a piecer in one of the local mills, probably the Park Mill which is where he was working before joining the army. In 1914 another brother was born, Philip.
Harold enlisted in November 1915 in Shaw and originally found himself in the Royal Fusiliers. When sent out for active service, probably in July 1916 it was to the Northumberland Fusiliers. He was to be a member of their 21st Battalion, a 'Tyneside Scottish' unit. It would seem that he never actually reached them, or if he did it was for a short time while out of the line, as he was sent on to the 13th Durham Light Infantry. He was most probably one of the draft of 77 other ranks to join the Battalion from the 21st Northumberland Fusiliers on July 22nd. Along with him were other men from Royton.
These men were for a short time still considered members of the Northumberland Fusiliers and were only 'attending' the 13th DLI. Harold was to be killed before this transfer was made permanent and is therefore registered as having fallen with the 21st Northumberland Fusiliers.
Shortly after joining his new unit at the Somme,Harold wrote home:
"We have just come from the front line for a short rest...we are kept lively dodging shells and a tremendous lot of shells are being pumped into the German trenches and our gunners are simply blowing them to bits. Ronald Longbottom (Ronald's medal roll states only 21st NF so perhaps he transferred back or was invalided) is in hospital with a bad leg, caused by a top of the trench falling onto his legs. It is nothing serious, but he will get a nice rest for a week. We have had our baptism of fire now and we went through it wonderfully well, only two or three being slightly wounded. We could see the Germans repairing the top of their trench in the early hours of the morning"
On August 2nd with the 13th DLI took over a section of the frontline near Contalmaison and the following day, while neighbouring units launched attacks, they came under enemy artillery fire and a forward post found themselves under British artillery fire that was falling short and were forced to leave their position. That evening they were relieved by the 10th Northumberland Fusiliers and went to billets behind the lines. Harold Buckley Ousey was one of those killed that day and his body was either never recovered or if so wasn't identified and his name can now be found on the Thiepval Memorial to the missing.
Another Royton man,Private Rowland Grindrod (again a 21st NF man who later officially became a member of the 13th DLI) wrote to Harold's mother and stepfather who were living at 40 Middleton Road:
"Dear Mr & Mrs Ousey, it is my painful duty to inform you that your son Harold was killed in action on Wednesday night. We were all in the trenches when a shell burst and shrapnel hit him behind the head. I can assure you that he had no pain as death was instantaneous. He was one of many who have been called upon to sacrifice their lives for their country"
The following year on August 4th 1917 the following appeared in the
In loving memory of Private Harold Ousey,
Durham Light Infantry, who was killed in action
in France on August 3rd, 1916.
From his Father,Mother,Sister and Brothers.
40 Middleton Road, Royton. Also Private Bob Rayburn
and Private Fred Whittaker, his chums in France
The men of the 13th DLI registered as being killed the same day
as Harold were:
CHILESTONE ALBERT Private 17268 born Norfolk,enlisted Warwick
GRIFFEN MICHAEL Lance Serjeant 19168 born Houghton,enlisted Gateshead
JONES GEORGE 33 Private 18674 from Gateshead
JOPLING FRANK Lance Corporal 24841 from South Shields
SHEARER SYDNEY Serjeant 19270 from Gateshead
STUBBINGS HARRY 22 Serjeant 16915 from Staindrop,Co.Durham
Another man listed as being from the 21st Northumberland Fusiliers was killed that day and was probably part of the same draft of men as Harold:
SAUNDERS ARTHUR Private 31619 born Maidenhead,enlisted London
Elizabeth Ann Ousey, Harold's mother, died in 1960 aged 88 and is buried in Royton Cemetery along with Harold's stepfather Edwin who had died in 1947 aged 71.