Harry Bottrill was born in Saxelbye, Leicestershire in 1893, the son of John Bottrill of Broughton, Northamptonshire, and his wife, Louisa Bottrill nee Arnold, from Melton Mowbray. Harry was the youngest of nine children, he had five brothers and three sisters.
Harry’s father, John, was a farm bailiff, and the family lived in a number of different rural locations including Guilsborough Grange in Northamptonshire, Saxelbye in Leicestershire, and New Parks, which was once farmland, but which today is a residential suburb of Leicester. John’s last employment was at a farm in Quorn where he died in May 1908. His widow, Louisa, moved to Aylestone in Leicester, where she lived with her daughter, Jessie and son, John Charles. She died in Aylestone in October 1914, shortly after the outbreak of war.
By 1911, Harry had left the family home. The census return of that year recorded him working as a gardener for Rev. Robert Dashwood at the Vicarage in Little Dalby. By the time war was declared in 1914, Harry had moved to Goadby Marwood where he was employed as an under-gardener by Capt. Robert Sheriffe of Goadby Hall. During his time in Goadby, Harry lodged with Edward and Ann Huddlestone who lived on Main Street, in the cottage we know today as Oswestry. Like Harry, Edward was a gardener.
Harry volunteered for military service within a month of war being declared. His attestation papers were signed at Melton Mowbray on September 2nd, and like most of the ‘Goadby Boys’ who enlisted at that time he was posted to the 8th (Service) Battalion, Leicestershire Regiment. The Battalion, formed at Leicester in August 1914, was part of the so-called New Army. The New Army consisted of over 500 battalions and was known at the time as Kitchener's Army. The new battalions were raised as additional battalions of the regiments of the Infantry, sharing their regimental traditions. They were numbered consecutively after the existing battalions and were distinguished by the word ‘Service’. In April 1915, the 8th Battalion was transferred to 110th Brigade, 37th Division, and they landed in France on July 29th, 1915.
Harry was killed by sniper fire on 11th March, 1916. His body was recovered and buried at Berles-Au-Bois churchyard cemetery near Arras in France. His death was reported in The Granthan Journal:
It is with sincere regret that we record the death of Private Harry Botterill, of the 8th Leicesters, who was killed “Somewhere in France” on March 11th. Although a native of Saxelbye, he had been employed for some time at Goadby Hall as under gardener, enlisting with a number of others from this village shortly after the war broke out, and as thus been regarded as one of the Goadby “boys.” After training for 10 months, during which time he was transferred to the Machine Gun Section, his regiment was drafted to France in July, 1915. He was 21 years of age, and of a quiet unassuming disposition. Whilst on active service, we are told he was one of the bravest soldiers, persevering, never tired, and always cheerful – the happy possessor of those qualities which go to make the ideal soldier and at the same time serve to buoy up and act as a stimulus upon their comrades in the ranks. The sad news was received on Friday last, in letters from deceased’s comrades, Ptes Cecil Foister and W. Piser, and the church bell was tolled out of respect to his memory. From these letters we gather that he was killed by an enemy sniper, on rising to straighten himself after a period of periscope duty in a cramped position in the trenches. He was shot through the head, death being instantaneous. The funeral took place in a neighbouring churchyard on the following day, Tuesday, March 12th, and was attended by Sergt. Essery, of his company (late butler at Goadby Hall). A sad feature in the case is that deceased’s mother died shortly after his enlistment, and two brothers have since been killed in action, so that much sympathy goes out to the remaining brother and three sisters in their bereavement. He had of late made his home with Mr. and Mrs. Huddleston, of Goadby, who had become greatly attached to him, and who feel the loss very deeply. A memorial service was held on Sunday afternoon, when suitable references were made by the Rector. The service was well attended, appropriate hymns being sung and a special form of service being used. “The Dead March,” was played at the close by Miss Waite, the organist, with cornet obligato by Mr. Hastings.
Harry’s brother, Alfred Bottrill, also lost his life in the First World War. Alfred served with the Essex Regiment and died on 26th September, 1915. Further tragedy followed for the family when brother, Ernest, died at home in Yorkshire in January 1916, leaving a wife and five young children. Two other brothers, Arthur and John Charles, fought but survived the war.
Harry was awarded the British War and Victory Medals, and the 1914/15 Star. As both of Harry’s parents were deceased, his personal effects and awards were sent to his eldest brother, William.
Harry Bottrill's grave marker, Berles-Au-Bois churchyard extension
Oswestry on Main Street in Goadby Marwood, where Harry lived with William and Ann Huddlestone.
This photograph was taken shortly after an
extension was built to the left of the chimney, the original cottage occupied by the Huddlestones comprised just the two windows on the right.
CWGC Memorial - Harry Bottrill
Newspaper cutting - Harry Bottrill
To learn more about the individual soldiers of Goadby Marwood who gave their lives for their country follow the links below:
Herbert Scarborough KIA 22 Aug 1915
Harry Bottrill KIA 11 Mar 1916
Cecil Thomas Foister KIA 03 May 1917
William Henry Pizer KIA 17 Aug 1917
Albert Edward Essery KIA 01 Oct 1917
Gerald Edgar Ellis KIA 01 Oct 1917
Harry Armstrong KIA 15 Jul 1916
John Thomas Pears DIED 02 Sep 1918