Photograph of Edward in Tameside Local Studies and Archives Centre. Reference: MRP/5C/11
(L to R) 1914-15 Star; British War Medal; Allied Victory Medal; General Service Medal 1918-62 with clasp 'Iraq'; India General Service Medal with clasp 'Burma 1930-32'; 1939-45 Defence Medal; 1935 Jubilee Medal; Long Service and Good Conduct Medal
Edward was born in around April 1896 in Aldershot, Hampshire. We don't know anything about his early life or family.
After leaving school aged 14 in 1910 Edward found a job as a telegraph boy at the Post Office. He would have liked to attend Winchester College, but his parents were 'too poor'.
When he was 16 Edward got a job with the Army Pay Corps in Aldershot. He worked as a Boy Writer, or clerk, in the Pay Lists Department and the Cashier's Department. At this time he was still a civilian, but he wanted to do this job as a soldier. At the time it was not possible to join the Army Pay Corps directly from civilian life. Edward would have to complete his recruit training and at least 6 months service with another unit first.
Therefore on the 27th April 1914 Edward joined The King's (Liverpool Regiment) and was given the service number 11918. His plan to transfer to the Army Pay Corps was ruined by the outbreak of the First World War that August. At first Edward stayed at Aldershot and worked as the Clerk in Charge of the Enquiries Bureau at Aldershot Command Headquarters. We don't know what this job involved.
In early 1915 Edward was sent to the King's Regiment Depot in Seaforth, Liverpool. He trained new recruits there as a Physical Training Instructor until he was ordered to join the 4th Battalion of the King's in France. Edward left the UK on the 22nd June.
The 4th Battalion was based in the Ypres area of Belgium when Edward joined them. They had moved south to the area around Loos in France by September, where they took part in the Battle of Loos. We don't know anything about Edward's service during this period.
In 1916 Edward took part in the Somme Offensive. It began on the 1st July, but Edward's first major operation came with the attack on High Wood during August. He was wounded in the back and right shoulder by shrapnel during this fighting, and evacuated back to the UK on the 2nd September.
Edward recovered in the UK until early 1918. He was transferred to the Monmouthshire Regiment on the 28th February 1918. This may be when he returned to the front. His service number with this unit was 34789. The Germans launched a major offensive on the 21st March that drove the British back and inflicted thousands of casualties. Edward fought to stop this attack. He then took part in the final Allied advance around Ypres as a member of the Manchester Regiment, joining them in around July 1918 with the service number 77287.
Once the war was over Edward was sent to Rouen to serve with an Army Headquarters. His new job would be to take charge of the records stored there and help to bring them back to the UK. We believe he held the rank of Colour Sergeant at the end of the war. He decided to abandon his plans to join the Army Pay Corps and to remain with the Manchester Regiment.
At some point Edward joined the 2nd Battalion of the Manchester Regiment. This was based at Tipperary in Ireland from November 1919 until it was sent to Mesopotamia, now Iraq, in February 1920.
Between April and July the Battalion was based in Tikrit, they then moved to Hillah. Most of the soldiers in Iraq were inexperienced and were not fully trained on all the Battalion's weaponry. This made men like Edward invaluable. He held the rank of Company Quartermaster Sergeant (CQMS) and we believe he was a member of D Company. This was commanded by Captain George Henderson and the Company Sergeant Major (CSM) was Charles Mutters. The medals of both these men are in the Museum of the Manchester Regiment collection.
On the 24th July 1920 the Battalion was around 20 miles outside Hillah when it was attacked by Arab tribesmen. They held off the Arabs until nightfall, and then D Company was ordered to hold position to allow the rest of the Battalion to get away.
During the night Charles Mutters had gathered a group of 79 soldiers around him, including Edward; they were not able to get back to Hillah so at dawn Charles decided he had to surrender.
The party was held by the Arabs for three months. They were released on the 19th October at Najaf. They had been forced to make long marches across the desert with little food or medical attention. The prisoners credited senior soldiers like Charles and Edward with ensuring their safety and well-being.
Edward and the 2nd Battalion left Mesopotamia on Boxing Day 1920 and moved to Kamptee in India. He received a new service number at around this time: 3513167. We know that Edward was CQMS of D Company during 1921, so it is very likely he had held this role the previous year in Mesopotamia.
The 2nd Battalion moved to Jubbulpore, now Jabalpur, during 1923. They celebrated their centenary on the 25th March 1924. Edward was present for the week of celebrations, which included a dinner held in the Officer's Mess that was attended by the Warrant Officers and Sergeants. It was 'the only occasion on record' when this had happened. There was also 3 days holiday for the entire Battalion.
Edward left the 2nd Battalion on the 30th October and returned to the UK. He had been posted to the Regimental Depot at Ashton-under-Lyne for a tour of duty. We don't know how long this lasted or what his job was.
We know Edward had returned to India by March 1927, because on the 11th he married Florence May Rowbotham in Bombay (now Mumbai). This was not Edward's first marriage. Almost ten years earlier he had married Margaret Morrison on the 16th December 1917 at St Bridget's Church in Wavertree, Liverpool. They had a son, John Hedley, on the 6th May 1918, but Edward had been granted a divorce on the 4th February 1926. We don't know whether he and Florence had any children.
At some point before the 2nd Battalion left Burma in 1929 Edward was attached to the Burma Railways Battalion, based in Rangoon. This unit was made up of railway workers who had received military training. It was used to protect the railway network in Burma. Edward served with them as an Instructor.
In 1932 Edward's 18 years of service in the Army were recognised when he was awarded the Long Service and Good Conduct Medal. By this time he held the rank of Staff Sergeant Instructor.
In December 1930 a rebellion broke out in several regions of Burma. Edward and the Burma Railways Battalion took part in the fight against the rebels, which had been brought to an end by early 1932.
Edward served as Regimental Quartermaster Sergeant for the rest of his time in Burma. In July 1935 the Adjutant of the battalion described him as having 'wide experience and powers of organisation' as well as 'administrative knowledge and ability', and 'experience of handling considerable numbers of men'. We believe Edward left Burma soon after this, but we don't know where he was posted.
Edward left the Army for good on the 1st February 1937. He and Florence went to live in the London area and Edward quickly found work as the Head Steward in the Officers Mess at RAF Northolt in west London. He worked for 111 Squadron of the Royal Air Force, who were based there until November 1941.
Living in London meant Edward could be 'a regular attender at pre-war London dinners' held by the Manchester Regiment Old Comrades Association (OCA). They lost touch with him during the Second World War, but in 1948, after 'a chance meeting' with William Currie, Edward began attending again. William had been one of Edward's fellow prisoners in 1920, and his medals are also in the Museum of the Manchester Regiment collection.
During the Second World War Edward played a part in the defence of the UK, although we don't know exactly what he did. The 1939-45 Defence Medal was awarded to members of the Home Guard, the Fire Service, Police officers and many others.
The rest of Edward's life is a mystery. By the mid 1960s he lived at 'Algonquin', 18 Warfield Avenue, in Waterlooville, Hampshire. He returned to the Ypres area between 1964 and 1968 to attend a 50th anniversary remembrance ceremony. Whilst he was there he had 'his closest brush with death since his days in the trenches'.
A local newspaper reported on the incident. Edward was driving 'in fog, and about ten yards from an unmanned level crossing, he saw a goods train bearing down on him. He braked and swerved, but the locomotive caught the car and threw it down a 12 foot culvert, carrying away a concrete post as it went. Mr Harvey escaped with bruises, cuts and shock. 'I crawled out of the wrecked car, much to the amazement of the train crew, who had stopped a few yards further on.''
Edward died in 1992, aged around 96, and left his medals to the Museum of the Manchester Regiment.