King’s Lynn – War Memorial (Harry Leonard Aldren)

Harry Leonard Aldren is one of the names on the war memorial in King’s Lynn.

Born Henry Leonard Aldren on Saturday 18 December 1897, he was the son of Robert Aldren who worked as a carman and Mary Aldren. He was baptised on Thursday 13 January 1898 at All Saints church in South Lynn and the family lived in Gaywood.

The school log exists of when Harry went to school at St Michael’s Church Of England School in South Lynn, which was on 3 October 1904. His family lived at the time at 10 Southgate Street and he remained at the school until 8 December 1905 when the records appear to suggest he went to school in Hunstanton. The school’s records are also a little wrong, they have him born on 18 December 1898.

Any record from Hunstanton doesn’t seem to exist on-line, but the school log of Harry’s next school also exists, when on 22 October 1906 he went to St. Margaret’s National/Church Of England School in King’s Lynn. At that time, Harry and his family were living at 24 Albert Street and he remained at the school until 30 November 1911 when it was noted that he had left having found work.

At the 1911 census, Harry was living at 8 Harrod’s Place, Providence Street in King’s Lynn with his mother Mary, who was listed as a widow. He was also living with his siblings Margaret (born in 1887, worked as a cook), Robert (born in 1889, worked as a farm labourer), Isabelle (born in 1891, worked as a general servant), John (born in 1896, worked as an errand boy), Edith (born in 1900, still at school), Bessie (born in 1903, still at school) and James (born in 1908).

Harry joined the Norfolk Regiment to fight in the war, with service number 203713. He became a private in the 10th battalion of the Essex Regiment and changed to service number 203034, but he was sadly killed on 31 July 1917. His body was never found, but this was the first day of the Battle of Passchendaele, one of the bloodiest battles in history. Harry likely died at the Battle of Pilckem Ridge, the first stage of Passchendaele, which was where the 10th battalion was present.

Harry is commemorated on panel 39 of the Menin Gate war memorial, a location I’ve been when they play the last post every evening, a haunting reminder of what happened in this area. He is listed as being 18 when he died, although he would have been 19. There are so many little bits of information wrong with regards to his service that I started to think there were two people of the same name, but I can’t imagine that’s likely. Harry’s service records also aren’t available, likely in the vast number that were burned following an air raid in the Second World War.

Something appears to have also gone wrong though with the information provided by the Commonwealth War Graves, who list his next of kin as Robert and Hilary Aldren of 8 Harrod’s Place in King’s Lynn. I’m assuming that Hilary is just a mis-spelling of what was meant to be Mary. On a side note, and for a separate story, Harry’s brother John was also killed during the First World War.