Memorabilia kept by Kevin Norris gives a moving insight into the death of his uncle Henry Green Norris on the front.
Harry, as he was known, was one of 11 children of Francis and Sarah Jane Norris who lived in Cloughton.
He and three of his brothers Frank, Arthur and Walter signed up at the start of the conflict. The three of them survived, though one was wounded and another gassed. Harry died at Gallipoli on August 8 1915. He was shot while fighting side by side by his officer Guy Winterbottom. Snipers prevented Winterbottom from recovering Harry’s body.
Harry was working as a groomsmen at the Winterbottoms’ estate Ashton Hall, Derbyshire, when war broke out. He signed up when the son, Guy, of his employers joined to serve as Guy’s batman.
He was stationed first in Cairo from where he sent his parents a letter. In it he talks about ‘bother with the Australians’ who has set a street on fire and “all the English soldiers had to turn out” and several go thurt. Harry also talks about a mosquito bite on one of his eyes.
He have stayed in Cairo with the horses but chose to go to the front with Guy. His death is commemmorated on the Helles Memorial which stands on the tip of the Gallipoli Pensinsula in Turkey.
“The letter shows how in those days they talked about ‘a glorious death’. I am sure it was no comfort to my nana and granddad,” said Mr Norris, who has lived with his wife Katy in Prince of Wales Terrace, Scarborogh, for eight years.
His father Simpson was a younger brother of Harry and Mr Norris spent his childhood holidays at a family farm in Staintondale.
This is a copy of a letter from Reva Winterbottom - mother of Guy - to the Norris family. Sent from Ashton Hall , Derbyshire, on September 8 1915.
Dear Mr Norris
I hardly know how to tell you about poor Norris but I heard from Mr Guy this morning and he tells me Norris was shot as he was fighting side by side with him.
I do feel so dreadfully for you and think you may like an account of the fight he died in so will quote from Mr Guy’s letter.
“There was a certain hill which it was decided to take and a big attack was organised.
The yeomen were in reserve and we moved across an open plain to get to the hill we wanted to take.
All was well for us both and then we got caught by the enemy’s shrapnel fire.
The shells fairly rained round us but the men were splendid and went straight on. We finally landed across and rested under a hill for some time.
Then finally at dusk we went forward and from then until 11pm we were fighting continuously in the dark. We then got orders to dig in and I was sent with 17 men to hold our right flank.
Well, we dug all night and when light came through we were all right but unfortunately one of the enemy’s guns spotted us and plugged four shells into the trench, it was fair hell, poor Norris was shot dead on one side of me and Cpl Lee on the other while one shrapnel bullet went through my coat and shirt and scratched me.
Well I had to retire and got out with only five men but three more came in afterwards.
We spent the rest of the day in the trenches and came out last night but are off back again tonight.
I am awfully sad about Norris. He was too splendid and I feel very guilty for not having fetched his body back with me but in the excitement I only thought of getting the live men and the machine gun away.”
Later in the letter he says “Poor Norris, I am cut up about it. He was grand.
I tried twice to get back to him but the snipers’ fire was so bad that I had to come back and then at night when I might have got to him I had to come away with the regiment.
Write to his people and tell them how splendidly he died and that his one thought all day seemed to be to protect and help me.
In a letter to Colonel Winterbottom he says Poor little Norris he was splendid and I feel I ought to have tried to have brought him out but then I had all my time to get the live men away.
I can’t tell you how much I feel for you all and I for one shall never forget Norris and what he must have been to Mr Guy all through.
I feel in losing Norris that he has lost a real friend - he might have stayed in Cairo with the horses but insisted on going where Mr Guy went.
I feel proud to think he was ever with us and how proud you must feel to be the mother of such a brave splendid lad.
He died a glorious death and I only wish Mr Guy could have arranged to get his body away so as he could have sent you some souvenir, but feel sure you will understand how he was.
Colonel Winterbottom says will I please say how much he feels for you in your trouble and wishes to thank you for all Norris did for Mr Guy.
I feel I can never forget him. Would it be asking too much if I asked for a photograph of him by himself if you have one.
I should so prize it and know it would be Mr Guy’s Wish to have one when he returns as I trust he will do.
With my deepest sympathy to you all.