About the Book

Courtsey Christopher Ackroyd

Captain Harold Ackroyd, VC, MC, MD, RAMC (1877-1917)

Harold was born on 18th July, 1877 in Southport, Lancashire. His father Edward (1833-1891) was the Chairman of the Southport & Cheshire Extension Lines Railway and his mother was Ellen Holden(1842-1908).

He went to Shrewsbury College and Gonville & Caius College Cambridge to study medicine.

Harold attended Guys Hospital in London and attained his MD in 1910.

He was never in private practice as a doctor but was a research scientist at Downing laboratory Cambridge where he pioneered the work into the discovery of vitamins with Sir Frederick Gowland Hopkins, who went on to win a Nobel Prize.

He married a nurse, Mabel Robina Smythe, in 1908 and they had three children, Ursula (author’s grandmother), Stephen and Anthony.

Harold joined the RAMC and was commissioned as a Temporary Lieutenant in February 1915. He was appointed as the Medical Officer of the 6th Battalion, Royal Berkshire Regiment.

After training at Chelmsford and Codford St Mary he went to France with the Battalion in July 1915 where they were posted on the Somme at Carnoy/Fricourt.

We follow Harold’s war through his letters written home to Ursula and from the War Diary and Regimental History.

As part of the 18th Division the battalion made one of the deepest and most successful advances on the Somme on the first day of battle – 1st July, 1916.

However it was to be in Delville Wood from 18-20th July where Harold was to save British, Scottish, South African and German soldiers. For his deeds during that hellish fighting he was to be awarded the Military Cross having received eleven recommendations for the Victoria Cross.

He was wounded or shell shocked and was invalided home in August. However, he returned to France in November of 1916 much against the wishes of his family.

Harold took part with the Battalion at the Battle of Passchendaele (3rd Ypres) and for his actions on the first day of the Battle – 31st July, 1917,  he was to receive twenty-three recommendations outside of his own Battalion for the Victoria Cross. This was awarded posthumously after he had been sniped south of Glencorse Wood on the 11th August.

He is "Believed To Be" buried at Birr Cross Roads Cemetery.

His name should never be forgotten.