Had been wounded at Gallipoli
Chippenham Man Killed in Action
Confirmation has been received of Private Harry Lucas, the fourth son
of Mr and Mrs C Lucas of 74 Park Lane (1st Wiltshire Regiment) being
killed in action. Pte Lucas joined the Wiltshire Regiment after the
declaration of war and saw service in the Dardanelles, from which he was
invalided home, but on his recovery he was drafted to the 1st Wiltshire
Regiment in France.
Before the war he was employed as a postman in connection with the post
office. He was of a bright and cheery disposition and respected by all
with whom he came in contact. He was a prominent footballer and a member
of the Rovers team and a regular attendant t the Men’s Own Brotherhood
meetings at the Primitive Church.
Mrs Lucas has received a letter from the sergeant of the platoon to
which Pte Lucas belonged.
I feel it is my duty to write and answer the letter which you enclosed
in the last parcel which you sent to your son, Harry. In accordance with
our usual custom, the contents of the parcel were distributed amongst his
comrades. Although I know that it is impossible for me to comfort you in
your great sorrow, I am now trying my best to forward to you the great
sympathies of his comrades and myself. When your dear son was killed it
seemed to throw a cloud over the whole company to which he belonged. He
was always well liked by officers, NCO’s and men, and often was the
means of cheering many of us up, by his own cheery and pleasant nature.
As his platoon sergeant, I was extremely sorry to lose him, as he was
one of my best boys, always willing and ready to undertake any duty with a
cheery spirit. He was also an extremely plucky and brave boy and is
greatly missed by all who knew him. His death was caused through the
bursting of a shell and I am thankful to be able to tell you that he
suffered no pain, as his death was instantaneous. We buried him in the
small cemetery about 3 miles behind the lines and erected a small wooden
cross over his grave.
With heartfelt sympathy, yours sincerely.
Sgt WG Thomas
Wilts Times 19 August 1916
In loving memory of Private Harry Lucas 1st Wiltshire Regt. Killed in
action July 14th 1916 aged 22 years.
God takes our precious ones away
And keeps them in store for us,
That in the realm of endless day
We may have treasures sent before.
Had he asked us well we know
We would cry, O spare this blow;
Yes, with streaming tears would prey,
Lord, we love him, let him stay.
Never forgotten by his Father, Mother, Sisters and Brothers.
Mr and Mrs Lucas and Family, 74 Park Lane, Chippenham.
Wilts Times 14 July 1917
In the book "Somme" by Lyn Macdonald, Pte Roy Bealing MM
relates his experiences of the attack by the 1st Wiltshire’s
on the 5th or 6th of July 1916. "I was beside a
young chap called Lucas and he was a bundle of nerves. He was shaking,
yes. He was simply shivering and shaking like a leaf. He could hardly hold
his rifle, never mind fix his bayonet. So I fixed mine and then I said
"Here you are Lucas," and I fixed his for him. It would have
taken him a week to fix his bayonet, the state he was in!. He wasn’t one
of the new draft. He was one of the older ones, and I was right sorry for
The Wiltshire’s objective was a the second line of the German
defences, the first line had already been captured. They were to the left
of the village of la Boisselle. Between them and their objective was a
huge mine crater which they did not know about.
Bealing says "When the whistle went, I threw my rifle on top of
the trench and clambered out of it, grabbed my rifle and started going
forward. There were shell holes everywhere. I hadn’t gone far when I
fell in one." After getting up and carrying on, Bealing fell several
more times. " I must have fallen a dozen times before I got to the
first line and there were lads falling all over the place. You didn’t
know if they were tripping up or whether they were going down with bullets
in them, because it wasn’t just the shells exploding round about, it was
the machine guns hammering out like hell from the German third line. Lucas
went down. He was killed before he even got to the first trench, the one
that was partly in our hands."
Bealing was wrong, Harry Lucas was not among the men killed in the
attack but had been seriously wounded and died from his injuries on the 14