Dedicated to the memory of all the men and women of the Bridgnorth area who died during the two World Wars.
Harry was born at Alveley on 5th November, 1896 and was baptised at the church on 17th January, 1897. He was the son of William France and his wife, Lavinia. At Harry's baptism, his father's occupation is recorded as 'labourer' but by 1901 he was working as a coal-miner (hewer). The family lived at Cook's Cross, Alveley.
In 1911, Harry was working as a 'garden boy'. He enlisted at the start of the war, joining the newly-formed 5th Battalion King's Shropshire Light Infantry. He went to France in May 1915 and was killed in action a few weeks later on 15th July while the battalion was in trenches about Railway Wood. The Battalion War Diary for the day reads: "Ypres Ramparts, 15/7/15, 1 Other rank killed. 10 wounded."
Private Harry France, 16496, 5th KSLI, was awarded the Victory and British War Medals and the 1915 Star. His death was reported in the Bridgnorth Journal.
ALVELEY SOLDIER KILLED IN ACTION
[Bridgnorth Journal, Saturday 31st July, 1915]
As stated in our last week’s issue, official information had been received that 16496 Private Harry France, younger son of Mr. and Mrs. France of Cook’s Cross, Alveley, near Bridgnorth, had been killed in action in Flanders. His death, which was instantaneous, caused by a bullet wound in the head, took place on the night of July 15th, and he was buried on the night following. He belonged to the C Company, 5th Batt. K.S.L.I.
The message first came to hand from his brother, Private E. W. France, who is also at the front. In a letter confirming the sad news, dated July 20th, an officer of the same regiment writes in high praise of the deceased soldier. He states that during the period of hard training in England he proved himself a true soldier, willing and eager to carry out his arduous duties, uncomplaining of trying conditions in bad weather and during long marches, while later in the more severe task in the trenches he had at all times proved himself brave and cheerful. He speaks with equal appreciation of his brother.
Private Harry France joined the 5th Battalion King’s Shropshire Light Infantry on January 1st, and went to the front some weeks ago. For several years he sang in the choir of Alveley Parish Church, and he was last present in this capacity on Low Sunday, April 11th, when at home on short leave. He was a general favourite, of a quiet and genial disposition, and met an honoured soldier’s death, fighting for his King and country.
This memorial has mostly been compiled from official sources. It would be good to be able to expand it with more personal material - memories, stories, photos, etc. If you have any suitable material or any corrections please contact Greg. For news of updates follow @BridgnorthHeros on Twitter.