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2nd Lieutenant, 731st Labour Corps.

Died 15 November 1917 aged 22.

Buried at La Brique Military Cemetery No. 2, Belgium.

Student of history.


 

Herbert was born in 1895 in Bolton to George and Elizabeth Eckersley. He was the eldest child having a sister and two brothers. He was educated at Bolton Municipal Schoolm and attended and taught Sunday School at Chalfont Street Independent Methodist Church In 1913 he left school with a Thomasson Scholarship and entered Manchester University where he was elected to the William Simpson Exhibition. In June 1915 he passed the first part of his history honours with great credit and was awarded the Shuttleworth Exhibition. He was a resident of Dalton Hall and preferring to serve in a non-combatant role he joined the Friends’ Ambulance Unit working in a number of responsible positions in France and Flanders from 1915 to 1917, including on a hospital Barge called ‘Secours’. Becoming convinced that his duty lay in joining the fighting ranks he applied for a commission with the Army. His poor sight saw him rejected by the infantry and instead he was appointed to a labour battalion. From the summer of 1917 he was actively engaged in directing the construction of roads directly behind the fighting line. Killed by enemy bombing in November 1917 he was described as “a man of rare simplicity and charm, of real intelligence and great devotion to duty.”

While he was away Herbert wrote to Professor Tout. He described his life exciting, and while he did grumble a little about having to pitch and break camp six times in a single night he was usually optimistic about the progress on the front despite the dangers and discomfort of it. He worked waste deep in water at times digging drainage ditches around artillery positions. Once he was hit by a shell fragment, but reported to his tutor that he only suffered some bruising from it. Fifteen days before he died he wrote expressing a hope to be back in Manchester working on his thesis soon.