Harold Bowater Large

Grandparents and parents

Harold’s paternal grandfather was Joseph Jerome Large (1822–1903). He was born in Birmingham. In 1871 he lived in Ladywood, Birmingham, with his wife Mary (born about 1823) and their 2 sons, Arthur and Frank Jerome (Harold’s father). His occupation was given as pawnbroker in 1871 and as an optician in 1878. His death was registered in Chorlton in 1903. Frank Jerome Large was born in Birmingham on 26 June 1853 and was baptised at St Thomas’ church, Birmingham, on 31 July 1853. Phoebe Bowater, daughter of William Bowater, a dentist, was born about 1861 in Kidsgrove, Staffordshire. They married on 29 August 1878 at St Bartholomew’s church, Edgbaston, Birmingham.

In 1881 Frank and Phoebe lived at 28 Alvington Crescent, Hackney with their daughter, Eleanor. Frank was an East India merchant. In 1891 they lived at 114 Birchanger Rd, Croydon with Harold, aged 9, and Mabel, 6. In 1901 they were at 25 Heaton Rd, Withington, with Eleanor, Harold and Mabel. Frank was now described as a commercial traveller. We know that they had a fourth child who had died before 1911 but have no details. In 1911, still in Heaton Rd, Frank was described as a printer’s agent. Mabel was the only child living with them.

Frank died on 8 June 1917, described as a lithographic printer. Probate was awarded in Manchester on 28 July and he left £310 to Phoebe. Phoebe died in 1930.


Harold was born about 1882 in the Islington/Stoke Newington area of London. In the 1901 census he was 19 and an architect pupil. He married Mary Jane Griffiths (1875–1951) on 7 April 1906 at St. Paul’s church, Withington. The priest was the Rev W Muzzell. Mary’s address at the time was 1 Egerton Crescent, Withington, and her father was recorded as Edward William Griffiths, a works manager. A report in the Manchester Courier of 3 December 1909 states that Mr Arthur M Samuel, prospective Conservative and Unionist candidate for the Stretford Division, addressed a meeting in West Didsbury the previous evening and that Mr Harold B Large was supporting him. We have not been able to find Harold and Mary in the 1911 census. We know that at some point Harold was a freemason in the Lodge number Manchester 2554. Harold and Mary had at least one daughter, Joan Muriel, born on 11 April 1914, who married Harold Vernon Wilkes at Christ Church on 6 February 1937. Joan and Harold Wilkes both died in 1989.


At the outbreak of war the British resolved to protect oil supplies in the Middle East by occupying the area around Basra in Mesopotamia (now Iraq). A series of campaigns towards Baghdad took place against the Turkish forces of the Ottoman Empire. In March 1917 the Turks retreated towards Baghdad and destroyed the bridges across the River Diyala. Various British units of the Mesopotamian Expeditionary Force tried to cross the river, eventually succeeding on 10 March 1917, forcing the Turks to retreat. Following the retreat the 9th Battalion of the Royal Warwickshire Regiment, with whom Harold was serving as a second lieutenant, cleared a position in palm groves around Saida and Dibaiyi and then caught up with Turkish rearguard positions. Harold died on active service on 10 March 1917. The Commonwealth War Graves Commission website gives his age as 33 but the censuses would suggest he was 34 or 35 years old.

Probate was awarded to Mary in London on 25 April 1917. Her address was 12 Derwent Avenue, West Didsbury. Harold left £478 10s.

Harold is commemorated on the Basra Memorial (Stone 9) near Zubayr, Iraq, which commemorates 40682 Commonwealth forces members whose graves are not known.

The Basra Memorial was originally located on the main quay of the naval dockyard at Maqil, north of Basra. Because of the sensitivity of the site it was later moved by presidential decree. It was designed by Edward Prioleau Warren and was unveiled on 27 March 1929. The site was a major battleground in the first Gulf War. The Telegraph reported on the 10 November 2013 that the memorial had suffered deliberate sabotage, with some of the its items missing, including the Cross of Remembrance and the bronze plaques from the Wall of Remembrance, carrying the names of the fallen.