Harry Colston Collings

Service:                Army

Rank:                    Second Lieutenant

Service No:           85638 (Gunner prior to commissioning)

Unit:                      284th Siege Bty. Royal Garrison Artillery

 Harry was born in Bristol in 1885. He was the first child of Thomas and Annie Collings. In 1901 the family were living at Tenby Villa, Glebe Road, Bristol; Harry’s father was a warehouseman in a boot warehouse & 16year old Harry was a pupil teacher  At the time of the 1911 census the family were living at 226 Church Road, St George, Bristol. Harry now an elementary school teacher.

Siege Batteries RGA were equipped with heavy howitzers, sending large calibre high explosive shells in high trajectory, plunging fire. The usual armaments were 6 inch, 8 inch and 9.2 inch howitzers, although some had huge railway- or road-mounted 12 inch howitzers. As British artillery tactics developed, the Siege Batteries were most often employed in destroying or neutralising the enemy artillery, as well as putting destructive fire down on strongpoints, dumps, store, roads and railways behind enemy lines.

Harry arrived in France on 8th February 1917 as a Gunner. During that year he must have acquitted himself well as he was commissioned in the field on 16th December 1917. He was to continue serving as a Second Lieutenant until he was killed in action on 19th September 1918.

Harry is buried and “ Remembered with Honour” at the Mareville Communal Cemetery, Attilly. Grave B8. There are now over 70, 1914-18 war casualties commemorated in this site. Of these, a small number are unidentified and some graves in Row A, identified as a whole but not individually, are marked by headstones bearing the additional words: "Buried near this spot". One grave, destroyed by shell fire, is represented by a special memorial.

Image from by kind permission of the Commonwealth War Graves Commission

Harry was entitled to the British War Medal & Victory Medal; these may have been claimed by his next of kin, Thomas Collins of 1, The Avenue, St. George, Bristol.

 

References 

The Long, Long Trail

CWGC

UK census 1901 & 1911