‚ÄčRoyton Roll of Honour

Date of Death:18/11/1916
Service No:23293
Regiment:King's Own Yorkshire Light Infantry
Unit:2nd Bn
Memorial:Thiepval Memorial
Panel Ref:Pier&Face 11C&12A

Harry Lomas was born in Royton in 1896 to parents Robert and Sarah. He was their third child, after elder sisters Annie & Priscilla. A younger sister Roberta followed in 1898,sadly that same year Robert Lomas died aged 35.
Sarah Lomas was to remarry at St.Mark's in Heyside in 1901, James Taylor becoming Harry's stepfather. At the time of the 1901 census the family were living at 22 Union Street (an address where William Henry Baguley later lived) with new addition to the family, 2 month old Sarah Taylor. Further step-siblings followed for Harry - Nelly, Violet, James, Ida, Lily, Ethel and Clara. As a boy Harry attended Blackshaw Lane School in Royton. In 1910 or 1911 the family moved just over the border to Shaw to 21 Manchester Road. At that time 15 year old Harry was working as a mule piecer in one of the local mills. At the time of his enlistment Harry was working alongside his stepfather James Taylor.
Harry enlisted early in the war,at either 17 or 18 years of age, and at first found himself with a Hussars unit in Aldershot. When it came his turn to be drafted to the front though it was to the 2nd Battalion of the King's Own Yorkshire Light Infantry. The 2nd KOYLI had been out at the front since August 1914 and had suffered many casualties, Harry reached them in late July 1915. Although Harry would have spent a lot of time at the frontline or near to it the first major assault the Battalion was involved in whilst he was a member did not occur until November 1916, and it was also to be his last.
The 2nd KOYLI went over the top on the last day of the Battle of the Ancre, the very last British push of the Battle of the Somme, on November 18th. At 05:15 on that morning they were ready on a 225 yard stretch of the front.They were one of four infantry battalions of the 97th Infantry Brigade who were to attack in a line - the 2nd KOYLI being on the far left, with the 11th Borders to the right and then the 16th and 17th Highland Light Infantry. To the 2nd KOYLI's left were the 2nd Manchesters of the 14th Brigade.Conditions were poor and it started snowing just before the attack was due to begin at 06:10 which was preceded by a heavy British artillery barrage. The battalion's first objective was Munich Trench, the left half of the battalion reached the objective but the two companies on the right were held up by heavy machine gun and rifle fire so took up positions in a line of shell holes in front of the German barbed wire. Meanwhile, after some heavy fighting, the two companies on the left advanced onwards. After that no definite news was received from these two companies - these men were all either killed or captured - and after news was received of the decimation of the 11th Borders on the battalion's right the two companies that had taken shelter in the shell holes withdrew back to the original front line. Two survivors from the 11th Borders who managed to make their way back to the British lines at night reported that some 60 men under 2nd Lieutenant A.E Rylatt of the 2nd KOYLI were holding out in the German second line but this was the last word of any of these men. The 2nd KOYLI's losses were put at 14 officers and 351 other ranks (for a list of those killed please see Thomas Henry Cave's entry). Harry Lomas was one of those killed, his body
was either never recovered or identified and he is commemorated on the Thiepval Memorial to the missing. Fellow Royton man Thomas Henry Cave was also amongst the Battalion's dead. In the same attack William Charles Plant of the 2nd Manchesters was also killed in the fighting.
Harry had been expected home on leave at Christmas to his parents house in Shaw, who were by now living at 10 Oak Street, but it wasnt until the New Year of 1917 that the family were officially notified he was missing. They did not receive official notification that he was presumed dead until Christmas 1917. His mother and stepfather later moved back to Royton and lived at 1 Lily Street.