Harold Kenneth Clapperton

Harold Kenneth Clapperton was born in Westhoughton, Lancashire in 1919.

He was the son of George and Jane Hannah Clapperton.

His father, George Clapperton, was a cotton mill manager.

Harold attended Bolton Church Institute from 1931 (IL).

His brothers, George and John and sisters Eleanor and Laura also attended Bolton Church Institute.

Harold's War

Harold was a pre-WW2 volunteer in the Duke of Lancaster’s Own Yeomanry. He took a commission then joined the infantry, going overseas with the 1st Battalion, The Loyal Regiment.

He died of wounds received in action at Thibar, Tunisia on 25 April 1943.

On 8 November 1942, Commonwealth and American troops made a series of landings in Algeria and Morocco. The Germans responded immediately by sending a force from Sicily to northern Tunisia, which checked the Allied advance east in early December. Thibar was just behind the limit of the advance that winter.

Another local Loyal Regiment officer, Lt Willward Alexander Sandys Clarke, (known as Peter) was awarded a posthumous Victoria Cross for his actions during the same engagement that cost Harold and many other Loyals their lives.

The war in North Africa came to an end in Tunisia In May 1943 with the defeat of the Axis powers by a combined Allied force.

Harold's brother, George Clapperton, was awarded the Distinguished Flying Cross while serving as a Squadron Leader with 78 Squadron, RAF. He later became a Wing Commander and was awarded the OBE. His other brother, John, served with the Royal Navy.

Harold's name appears on Westhoughton War Memorial.

Harold's sister Laura served by working on the development of parachute materials in Bedford and as a volunteer with the St John Ambulance.

His brother John's wife Joan (nee Eastwood and also a former Church Institute pupil), was a teacher and volunteer ambulance driver.

George's wife Renée served in the WRNS.

Bolton Journal and Guardian
29 December 1939

Engagement CLAPPERTON-CROOK


Harold Kenneth Clapperton, youngest son of Mr and Mrs George Clapperton of Springfield, Green Lane, Bolton Eunice Crook, only daughter of Mr and Mrs Frank Crook, Longfellow-ave, Bolton.


The marriage never took place.

Bolton Journal and Guardian
14 May 1943

Among North African Dead

Mr and Mrs George Clapperton, Springfield, Green-lane, Bolton , have received news from the War office that their youngest son, Lieut. Harold Kenneth Clapperton, of the Loyal Regiment, was killed in recent fighting in North Africa. Aged 24, Lieut. Clapperton was a man of striking physique, being over 6ft.4in. high. He was educated at the Bolton Church Institute, and went into the cotton trade. For over six months prior to the outbreak of war he was in Germany as a salesman for William C. Jones Ltd., Collyhurst Mills, Manchester, but moved to Brussels, and then back home as the threat of war increased. His eldest brother is Wing Commander Clapperton DFC, and another brother, John, is now in the Royal Navy, and was formerly in the Bolton Mobile Police.

Bolton Journal and Guardian
25 June 1943

GLORIOUS BUT TRAGIC DAYS
HOW BOLTON MEN HELD POSITION

Nearly two months after the news came to Bolton of the deaths in action in North Africa of several well-known officers and men of the Loyal Regiment, the veil of mystery surrounding the battalion’s action has been lifted a little by the War Office itself. This, there can be little doubt, is the action in which the commanding officer, Lieut-Col. G. W. Wordsworth Gibson, the adjutant, Major Oclee, and a number of officers, including Capt. P. Sandys-Clarke of Dimple, Lieut. H. K. Clapperton, Lieut. Alfred Clark, Lieut. J. D. Hampson, and many of the men lost their lives.


Bolton Journal and Guardian
28 April 1944

Roll of Honour


CLAPPERTON – In loving memory of our dear son and brother, Lieut. HAROLD KENNETH CLAPPERTON of the Loyal Regt, who was wounded in action and died at Thibar, Tunisia, on April 25th Easter Sunday 1943. - Springfield, Green-lane, Bolton.

Harold's niece Carol Weitz (born 1944, to John and Joan) gives an insight into the impact of the war on her family:

"I am old enough to remember ‘The War’ as a regular point of reference in the adults’ conversations throughout my childhood. My father didn’t come home until I was two. His elder brother was a hero. The youngest, Harold, became a family icon. His orphaned father had worked his way up from the mill floor, created a cotton spinning combine and travelled to Germany to buy the best machines. He learnt some German, tried to read Schiller, and treated his daughters to a mini ‘Grand Tour’. Harold worked happily in Düsseldorf, spoke fluent German, had good friends. The war broke out. He came back. By 1943 he was lying in a war grave in North Africa, aged 23.

‘Never again’ we said, and bridges were built to bring war-torn Europe closer together. At school we didn’t learn about ‘The War’. At home no questions were asked and nothing explained. Dad’s photos of P.O.W.s were in a forbidden drawer, a chapter too horrible to open. I was simply programmed for peace. Perhaps my parents just wanted a quiet life. Mum said ‘No politics in here!’ They read the Daily Mail at breakfast and at tea. They ordered the The Observer when I was preparing for University. We never talked about anything.

At 15 I went to Hamburg on the first school exchange since The War. My pen-friend showed me bombsites between the buildings. ‘You did that!’ she said. Quite likely it had indeed been my Uncle George, DFC, Bomber Command. He wept later when he saw my baby girl. ‘How many infants like her did I kill?’ She has a German father.

He was born in 1940, and by the sixties he was with the first Bundeswehr Panzer division to train alongside British troops in Wales. Enemies became allies.

I studied German and was sent to Hanover for a term. At 21 I got on a boat and went and found work, teaching, translating, in Hanover and then West Berlin, as free as a bird. Later I married Hanfried Weitz and had a full-time post in Hamburg."

 

Harold Kenneth Clapperton

Harold Kenneth Clapperton

Lieutenant: 219886

1st Battalion
The Loyal Regiment ( (North Lancashire)

Born: Westhoughton, Lancashire 1919

Died: Thibar, Tunisia 25 April 1943

Link to CWGC Casualty Details

Loyal Regiment

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