Remembering Harold

Harold Hoyle was my great uncle.  Born in the late 1800’s, he died near the Front on August 25, 2018 in the closing weeks of World War I. This past weekend, my mother along with other relatives, gathered in Earby, northern England to lay a poppy at the town’s war memorial. The oldest of the clan was my uncle Martin — Harold’s half brother. The youngest, my nephew Mylo.

My mother shared her memory of grandmother, Harold’s step-mother, telling the story stood of him leaving for the last time. She was stood on the very step he left from never to return.

Harold Hoyle was my fathers half brother and lived at Hodge Syke in Earby. He was an essential mill worker but was given the white feather one Friday evening by two mill girls so went to war. He was injured in France and came home to recuperate for 5 months and then went back. I remember Pauline Mary Hoyle (my grandmother and his step mother) telling me about the day he went back, standing in the doorway at Hodge Syke and telling her he would never come home again. She cried when she told me this and although not much more than 10 years old at the time (I’m 70 this year) I have never forgotten her look as she remembered the event.

The local paper, The Craven Herald, carried his death notice along with two moving poems on September 20th, 1918.

Private Harold Hoyle, Duke of Wellington's Regiment.
Private Harold Hoyle, Duke of Wellington’s Regiment.

Private Harold Holye, Earby

Private Harold Hoyle, Duke of Wellington’s, killed in action on August 25th, was 25 years of age and the eldest son of Mr. and Mrs. Albert J. Hoyle, Hodge Syke, Earby. He was wounded last October and returned to France after four months’ recuperation in England. Altogether he had been two years at the Front and was formerly an engine-tenter at Grove Shed, Earby.

HOYLE – In loving memory of our dear son, Private Harold Hoyle, Duke of Wellington’s Regiment, who was killed in action somewhere in France, August 25th, 1918.

Somewhere in France in a soldier’s grave,
Lies our dear son among the brave;
From earthly cares to heavenly rest,
Missed by those who loved him best.

–From Father, Mother, Brothers and Sisters

Somewhere in France in a soldier’s grave,
Lies my dear sweet heart amongst the brave;
But the unknown grave is the bitterest blow
None but an aching heart can know,

–Ever remembered, Mollie

100 years after the end of the Great War, I find the story deeply moving. Harold was doing his part for the War effort on the home front, and yet something as flimsy as a white feather —  a potent symbol of cowardice — led to two years at the Front of the most brutal war and ultimately to his death in battle. Rest in Peace, Harold.

 Martin and MyloIMG_0317

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