18876 Private Harry Houlden was just 20 years old when he died. He was the son of Mr. & Mrs. T. Houlden of Elder Tree House Kirkstead. Prior to the war, Mr. Patchett employed Harry on Abbey Farm Kirkstead. He enlisted on the 6th September 1915 and did his early training at Weelsby Park near Grimsby. Within a short time of his arrival in France, Harry suffered sever wounds by flying shrapnel in his back, being admitted to Hospital in Boulogne France.
After completing his basic training, Harry found himself in a draft of soldiers being sent to re-inforce the 2nd battalion of the Lincolnshire Regiment. Harry arrived in France in the latter part of January 1917. As previously mentioned, within a few weeks of his arrival, Harry was to find himself in Hospital recovering from the wounds received to his back. However, by the 16th August of that year, Harry is fully recovered and back with his unit. It is on this day, the second of the great battles of Ypres began. In the battle of Langemarck 1917, both the 2nd and 6th Battalions of the Lincolns were engaged. This took place during the 11th 18th August.
Prior to moving forward by companies on the 11th August, the 2nd Lincolns had enjoyed a week of rest. However on the night of the 11th, they were sent forward to support the 74th Brigade in the area of Bellewaarde. At 10.00pm on that night, the Lincolns began the relief of the 11th Cheshire Regiment on the Westhoek Ridge. At 3.30am on the morning of the 14th the enemy started a very heavy barrage along these positions and an hour later launched an attack on the Lincolns. A and D companies of the Lincolns suffered heavy casualties and that night, the enemy again placed a barrage along the positions of the Lincolns.
For the operations due to begin on the 16th, the 2nd Lincolns were placed in reserve. At 6.30 in the morning of the 16th the Lincolns were ordered to support the attack. However, due to both flanks becoming exposed, it was not long before a withdrawal was deemed necessary. After consolidating, the Lincolns faced an enemy counter attack in the afternoon of the 16th only to be relieved at about 11.00pm on the night of the 16th. But were called upon again to resume the fight on the 17th finally being withdrawn on the 18th.
During this period the 2nd Lincolns suffered the following casualties: 31 other ranks killed; 3 Officers and 104 other ranks wounded with 36 other ranks missing. Harry was amongst those who had fallen on the 16th.