Harold Beach, part of the 9th Hawkes Bay Company (Territorial service), enlisted on 28 August 1915 and went to Trentham Camp with the Wellington Infantry Battalion for a period of training, before embarking with the 8th Reinforcements on 13 November 1915 from Wellington bound for Suez, Egypt. His brother, Hubert Beach would enlist later in the war.
On arrival in Egypt on 20 December, Harold entrained to Zeitoun Camp on the outskirts of Cairo and began a hard training regime under the desert sun. In February 1916, Harold Beach completed further training at Ismailia (Moascar Camp) before embarking for France on 6 April 1916. On arrival at Marseilles, Harold Beach moved to Northern France and villages to the west of Armentieres, the last stop for the NZ Division before the Somme.
For the next three months, Harold Beach and the majority of the New Zealand Division were responsible for trench digging and maintenance, patrolling and the occasional night raid. From July 1916, the night raids intensified and the men conducted eleven raids, additional to the routine patrolling, as well as repelling four raids by the Germans.
[singlepic id=275 w=600 h=400 float=center]A photograph of a woman found with Pte. H.L. Beach’s belongings[/singlepic]
It was in August that the New Zealand Division was withdrawn from the area to prepare for the upcoming battle at the Somme. On 15 September 1916, the offensive began and Harold Beach along with the thousands of other New Zealand troops experienced his first real taste of trench warfare around Flers. On the 16th, Harold Beach was involved in an attack which came under heavy machine gun and artillery fire and was severely wounded. Later in the day, 10/3181 Private Harold Lagor Beach succumbed to his wounds and died. He was only 22 and was buried in the Thistle Dump Cemetery, High Wood, Longueval, France; Plot 1, row c, grave 13.
Harold’s few remaining possessions were collected a month later and sent to his father Alfred in Greenmeadows, Napier and those personal effects, along with the small bag they were bundled up in, are held in the collection at the National Army Museum.
Diary with Photograph
Personal Effects Bag
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