Harry John Shrimpton was one of four sons of Joshua and Mary Shrimpton living at East Street, Thame. He was born in 1882, but it was not until July 1909 that he was baptised in Lewknor, at the age of 27. This was probably in preparation for his marriage to Gladys Gwendoline Smith a few weeks later on 2nd August. They moved to 66 Park Street, Thame where they had three children, Constance Gwendoline, Douglas Henry and Edward.
As a former member of the local territorial Queen’s Own Oxfordshire Hussars, retiring with the rank of Corporal, when the National Reserve was started in Thame, he became one of its first members and volunteered for general service.
At the outbreak of the war, he went with several other Thame reservists and enlisted in the Oxford and Bucks Light Infantry, initially posted to the 3rd (Reserve) Battalion. On 7th July 1915 Harry, having recently been promoted to Corporal, entrained for the Front to join the 5th Battalion, part of the 14th Division, 42nd Brigade, who were operating in trenches near the Hooge in Belgium.
In the autumn of 1915, it was reported that as a result of the Battalion’s action at Bellewaarde Farm on 26th September, he was recommended for the Distinguished Conduct Medal, and received congratulations from Major-General V Couper, Commander of the 14th Division, on “his gallant and meritorious conduct.” No record has been found that this was formally ratified and awarded. It was this action that probably also contributed to Harry’s promotion to Sergeant in October 1915.
Over the next few months the Battalion carried out various duties in trenches in northern France, interspersed with spells of rest and training, before moving down to the Somme in August 1916, where, on the 24th, they formed part of the attack on Delville Wood. Harry was one of the many casualties, receiving a gunshot wound to the chest. He was evacuated to hospital at Rouen where he died of his wound on 30th August 1916. He was 34 years old.
8862 Sergeant Harry John Shrimpton, Oxford and Bucks Light Infantry, is buried in St Sever Cemetery, Rouen. He is remembered in Thame on the War Memorial and on the Memorial Boards of St Mary’s Church, All Saints’ Church and Christchurch.
The Thame Remembers Cross was delivered to St Sever Cemetery, Rouen, Seine-Maritime, France on 30th August 2016 by Nick & Hilly Carter