Fallen in December 1914:
Harold Fisher D.S.O.



1st Manchester Regiment

Killed in Action Friday, 15th December 1914

Remembered with Honour, Beuvry Communal Cemetery, Pas-de-Calais, France, Plot 2

Harold Fisher, a regular soldier, was the second son of the Reverend Frederic Horatio Fisher of Church-Croft, Hemel Hempstead and he was born on 3rd March 1877 in Fulham, Middlesex. His father was an Honourable Canon of St Albans and his mother, Agnes Jeune, was the daughter of John Jackson who had been Bishop of London between 1869 and 1885. Harold grew up in a large family and he had three sisters; Muriel, Helen and Agnes and five brothers; Bernard, Richard, Edmund, Noel and Frederic. The family were wealthy and its home, Church-Croft which stood on the Marlowes in Hemel Hempstead, was listed as a 15-room dwelling on the 1911 Census return. When the Reverend Frederic Fisher died in 1915 his estate valued just over £22,000 equivalent to £1.6 million today.

Harold started his education at Conyngham House in Ramsgate, a small independent church school, where in 1891 he was one of only eleven pupils which included two of his brothers, Richard and Edmund. From Conyngham House he went to Haileybury in Hertford which was originally founded as the East India Company Training College. By 1892 when Harold entered Haileybury its primary purpose was to prepare young men to serve the British Empire, principally in India. He left Haileybury in February 1895 and enlisted with the Suffolk Artillery Militia for a period of three years.

He entered the Manchester Regiment from the Militia on the 4th May 1898 and was gazetted Lieutenant on the 6th May a year later. His regimental service records tell us that Harold was 5 feet 11½ inches tall and was a proficient French speaker.

Harold served in the South African War disembarking on the 24th August 1899 and taking part in operations in Natal in the same year, including actions at Elandslaagte and Lombard's Kop. He took part in the Defence of Ladysmith where he was severely wounded on 9th November 1899 but had recovered sufficiently to take part in action on 6th January 1900.

During Harold’s service in the South African War he was mentioned in despatches on four separate occasions, twice by Sir George White in December 1899 and again in March 1900. He received the Queen’s South Africa Medal with three clasps as well as the King’s South Africa Medal with two clasps. Lieutenant Fisher was created a Companion of the Distinguished Service Order (DSO) on 29th November 1900 [London Gazette, 27 September 1901]: "Harold Fisher, Lieutenant, Manchester Regiment. In recognition of services during the operations in South Africa". The Insignia were presented by the King on 12th May 1902. Harold had been promoted Captain in July 1901.

1st Bn. Manchester Regiment shipped to India in March 1903 and on the outbreak of war, the Battalion was part of the 8th (Jullundur) Brigade of the 3rd (Lahore) Indian Division. It sailed from Karachi aboard the SS Edavana on 29th August 1914 arriving in Marseilles a month later on 26th September. The Battalion strength on embarkation was 17 officers and 915 other ranks which included a machine gun section, a medical officer and an assistant surgeon.

By 26th October, Captain Fisher was in the trenches about ¾ of a mile east of Festubert where the Battalion suffered heavy shelling and its first casualties ‘killed’. Following movement up the line, the 1st Manchester’s had taken up position in trenches just north of La Bassee Canal on the 10th December and it was here five days later on 15th December that Harold was killed.

The Battalion war diaries record the event: “Captain Fisher was killed at about 9am. He was shot whilst observing from a post on the railway, cut through the previous day”. The Battalion had suffered frequent sniping by the Germans over the preceding few days and it is likely that Harold was targeted in his observation post.

His death was reported in the Hemel Gazette on 26th December 1914. (see extract)

Harold is Remembered with Honour in the Beuvry Communal Cemetery, Pas-de-Calais, France where is interred in Plot 2

He is further commemorated on a memorial tablet in the church of St. Mary the Virgin and All Saints, Debden, Saffron Walden where his father had been Rector between 1890 and 1903, prior to moving to Hemel Hempstead.

Harold was 37 years old when he died.

He was eligible for the 1914-15 Star, the British War Medal and the Allied Victory Medal.

Beuvry Communal Cemetery, Pas-de-Calais, France (Courtesy: CWGC)

Captain Harold Fisher DSO (Courtesy: IWM, Bond of Sacrifice - First World War Portraits Collection)

Extract from Hertfordshire, Hemel Hempstead Gazette ad West Herts Advertiser 26th Dec. 1914

Memorial Tablet, St. Mary the Virgin and All Saints Church, Debden, Saffron Walden