Sunday 25 January 2015

A Childless Widow

Lance-Corporal Harry Hack [Luton News 21/1/1915]

Monday 25th January 1915:  Mrs Elizabeth Hack of 71 Ivy RoadLuton, has suffered a tragic double bereavement. Her only child, a baby son born just after the war began, died a little over a week ago. Within a day or two of  her child’s death she received a letter telling her that her husband, Lance-Corporal Harry Hack of the 1st Battalion of the Bedfordshire Regiment had been killed in action. Drummer C Dimmock of Bolton Road, Luton wrote:
Just these few sorrowful lines to you, with deepest sympathy for the loss of your husband, as he was killed in action on January 8th. He was shot in the left eye, the bullet coming out of the right temple. He died two minutes afterwards, and never murmured. I am very sorry to lose him as he was my best pal, and we both came from Luton.
The news was confirmed in another letter received at Houghton Regis and official notification by the War Office was received yesterday. Lance-Corporal Hack had joined the Bedfordshire Regiment six years ago, intending to serve for twelve years. When war was declared he was sent straight from Mullingar in Ireland to the Front, and it is about fourteen months since he last saw his wife. He generally wrote to her twice a week but she had not received a letter since 31st December which made her suspect all was not well.

Mrs Hack has also received a letter from Company Quarter Sergeant F Halsey of A Company of the 1st Battalion in which he says:
Your husband was respected by all who came in contact with him. He was one of the very few of us left who left Old Ireland with the dear old regiment for the meat of war, and he did his duty thoroughly to the end. Do not mourn his loss more than you can help. The loss to you, Heaven knows, is great, but to us, his comrades, much greater. I am proud to be able to say he was one of the bravest and best, and a thorough example of the true British soldier. I know he died as he wished, fighting for you and the country he so dearly loved – a glorious death.” 
He was killed in the trenches at --- (I will give you the name of the place in the near future) on January 8th.[2] He died with a smile, and so far as I know he did not speak after being hit. … Now, cheer, oh! I feel sure as time rolls on and you overcome the shock of having lost him you will be able to speak of him with a glow of pride as a true example of manhood, and when at some future date peace reigns throughout the world you well be able to say ‘I gave all towards that end’. Before closing, may I ask you to place me on your list of friends? If at any time I can help you in any way, no matter what, I shall consider it a pleasure and a great favour for his sake.
Source: Luton News, 21st and 28th January 1915

[1] Harry Hack married Elizabeth E Smith in 1913. Their son Harry R Hack cannot have been more than six months old when he died. Elizabeth married a Leonard Rolt early in 1917 and gave birth to another son, Leonard R G Rolt, a year later. This second son died at the young age of 17 in 1935.

[2] The 1st Battalion took over trenches at Wulvergem from the 1st Battalion of the Dorset Regiment on January 7th. Six men were killed by snipers and two wounded on the 8th. Harry Hack has no known grave and is commemorated on the Menin Gate.

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