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© Barns Green - A Local History of The Great War 2014
Henry Thomas Aylward (aka Thomas Henry Aylward) (1894-1914) - Pte 9113 1 st  Bn The King’s (Shropshire Light Infantry) Henry Thomas Aylward   was born on the 24 th  January 1894 in Billingshurst, the youngest son of John and Phoebe Aylward. Henry   was   related   to   Sydney   Moore   by   the   marriage   of   his   sister   Mary,   to   Sydney’s   brother   Titus.   In   1901   Henry   was   admitted   to Itchingfield   School   whilst   living   with   Titus   Moore   who   is   at   this   time   recorded   as   his   guardian.   The   reason   for   this   is   not   clear   as   his parents   were   still   living   in   Billingshurst   with   his   siblings,   but   it   appears   that   the   same   thing   happened   with   his   brother   Ernest   a   few   years earlier.   On   8 th    February   1909   Henry,   aged   17,   signed   up   as   a   full   time   soldier   with   The   King’s   (Shropshire   Light   Infantry)   and   was   posted   to   the   1 st   Battalion.   At   the   outbreak   of   war   the   1 st    Shropshires   were   serving   in   Tipperary   in   Ireland   and,   as   part   of   16 th    Brigade,   6 th    Division   of   the British Expeditionary Force, were one of the first regiments to be posted to the front. The   Battalion   were   sent   to   France   in   early   September   1914,   landing   from   the   Braemar   Castle   at   St   Nazaire   on   the   10 th .   The   Battalion marched straight into the onset of the trench warfare for which the war became infamous.
On   14   September,   following   the   stalemate   of   the   Battle   of   the Aisne,   the   entire   BEF   were   ordered   to   entrench,   but   few   digging tools   were   available.   Soldiers   scouted   nearby   farms   and   villages for   pickaxes,   spades   and   other   implements.   Without   training   for stationary   warfare,   the   troops   merely   dug   shallow   pits   in   the soil.   These   were   at   first   intended   only   to   afford   cover   against enemy    observation    and    shell    fire.    Soon    the    trenches    were deepened    to    about    seven    feet.    Other    protective    measures included   camouflage   and   holes   cut   into   trench   walls   and   braced with timber. According   to   the   War   Diary,   most   of   September   was   spent   in   the trenches    near    Vailley,    under    continuous    attack    but    suffering relatively   few   casualties.   In   mid-October   however   the   battalion had   been   moved   to   trenches   at   Le   Quesne   and   here   things   were very different .
A   ferocious   German   attack   on   the   British   lines   in   the   early   hours   of   the   23 th    October   was   repulsed   and   left   hundreds   of   German   troops dead   or   wounded   but   despite   this   the   assault   continued   right   through   until   late   afternoon.   By   the   end   of   the   action   34   British   soldiers had   died   and   Henry   was   one   of   these   casualties.   He   has   no   known   grave   as   his   body   was   never   recovered,   but   he   is   commemorated   on the Ploegsteert Memorial, Belgium. Henry   was   awarded   the   1914   Star   with   Clasp,   the   Victory   Medal   and   the   British   War   Medal   for   his   service   and   is   commemorated   on   the War Memorial in Billingshurst .
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The Fallen