Harry Hook was born on 14th February 1894 at West Horsley in Surrey, the sixth of ten children born to George and Fanny Hook. George Hook and Fanny Arthur were married in the summer of 1880 at Wonersh. Their daughter Katherine was baptised just before the marriage also at Wonersh. The family lived at Shamley Green for a few years and their first two sons were born there; George in 1882 and William in 1885. In 1886 the family moved to The Chalk Pit at West Horsley just off the main Guildford to Leatherhead Road. It is likely that George Hook was a labourer in the chalk pit or the lime kilns which were located here. Seven more children were born to the couple while they were living here; Frederick in 1887, James in 1889, Annie in 1891, Harry in 1894, Minnie in 1896, Arthur in 1899 and Sidney in 1901.
Harry was recorded on the 1911 census living at home and working as a gardener in a market garden. He joined the 11th (Service) Battalion, Rifle Brigade but it is not clear when. The battalion was formed in 1915 in Winchester as part of Kitchener’s Army and was part of the 59th brigade in the 20th (Light) Division. They trained on Blackdown then at Witley before moving in April 1915 to Salisbury Plain. The battalion went to France in July 1915 and in July 1916 moved from Ypres to Wormhoudt. It then moved to various locations around the area until late August when it arrived at Meaulte near Albert to begin preparations for the recapture of the village of Guillemont.
Guillemont was a village near Albert which was of strategic importance. It had been held by the Germans during attacks at the end of August and at the beginning of September, the 20th Division were tasked with capturing it.
The war diary gives details of the action. On the 1st September the 6th Oxford and Bucks Battalion joined the brigade thus strengthening numbers. The plan then was to attack on the 3rd September from positions all around the village. The 11th Rifle Brigade was posted to the right sector. The attack was to begin from the front line trenches and on the night of the 2nd the troops moved into position. It was described in the diary as a “particularly quiet” night
The attack began at six in the morning of the 3rd with the infantry, including the 20th Division, beginning their action at noon. The action was successful and by the next day the village was in allied hands. However, there were many casualties on both sides and somewhere in the fighting on September 3rd, Harry Hook was killed. He was just 22 years old.
He is buried in Guillemont Road Cemetery along with seventy-four other allied troops killed at Guillemont that day. On the site of the battlefield is a memorial to the 20th Division.
Sadly not many of Harry’s family lived to a good age although his father, George, remained in West Horsley until his death at the age of 83.
Harry’s mother mother Fanny had died in 1913 aged 55. His sister Catherine and brother Arthur died as children and his brother Frederick in 1924 aged 37. Neither Frederick nor his brothers James and Sidney married. William married and had four children and Minnie married and had two.
|Guillemont Road Cemetery|
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