Sapper Harry Beacham, 126th Field Company, Royal Engineers, was killed in action on 24th March 1918. He was the eldest of three children and the only surviving son of parents Alfred (a bricklayer) and Emma (née Whitehead) of Allesley, Coventry. His younger brother, Walter, died in 1888, aged under one year. His sister, Dorothy (1891-1986) died at the age of 94.
Harry was born in Allesley on 27th July 1885 and he had nine half-siblings, as his father, Alfred, had been married before. Alfred’s first wife, Jane (née Docker) had died in 1882 after almost 20 years of marriage. Alfred married Emma Whitehead in 1885.
By 1901, the family was still living in Allesley and 15-year-old Harry was an apprentice carpenter. On 1st April 1907 he married Edith Gertrude Robinson at St Frideswide, Oxford and they seem to have set up home in Temple Balsall. Their son, Harry Thomas Beacham (1908-1978) was baptised at St John Baptist Church, Berkswell on 31st January 1909 and the family’s abode was listed as Temple Balsall. A second child, Lionel Walter George, was born on 8th December 1913 and died in 1929, aged 16.
Harry enlisted in the Army in Coventry on 11th December 1915, aged 30 years and 180 days, giving his occupation as carpenter and joiner and his address as Benton Green, Berkswell. He joined the Royal Engineers but was transferred to the Yorkshire Regiment in 1916 before being transferred back to the Royal Engineers in January 1918. He left for France with the Yorkshire Regiment (Teeside Pioneers) in September 1917, prior to which he deposited his will at Brompton Barracks, Chatham.
His service record survives and there is a handwritten note from him dated February 1918, to the Commanding Officers at Brompton Barracks. The note requests that in the event of his death, instead of leaving everything to his wife as specified in his will, all his belongings should be left to his mother, and that she would spend it on the welfare of his two children. It’s not known whether this note was taken into account when he died, but his widow was listed on his service record as his next-of-kin and was awarded a pension for herself and the two children with effect from November 1918.
Sapper Harry Beacham was originally posted as missing on 24th March 1918 before being officially declared presumed killed. His widow appears to have lived in the Coventry area until her death in 1949.
Harry Beacham has no known grave and is commemorated on the Pozieres Memorial. He is also commemorated locally on Berkswell war memorial.
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Heritage & Local Studies Librarian
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