14374 Serjeant Harold Joseph Catt, M.M., 4th Battalion Bedfordshire Regiment
Born on 24th April 1885 in March, Cambridgeshire
Died on 4th January 1942 in Belton near Grantham, Lincolnshire
Harold Joseph Catt was born in March, Cambridgeshire, the seventh of the 9 children of Joseph Catt and Zitella née Wilson. His father was a Milkman and later a Farm Stockman and a Farm Bailiff.
Harold’s siblings were:
- Zitella Susan, born in 1870
- Horace Edward, born 22nd November 1873
- Kathleen Janet, born in 1875
- Jack Albert, born in 1877
- William Herbert, born 14th February 1880
- Edgar, born 29th March 1883
- Arthur Francis, born in 1888
- Ivo Alured, born in 1890
In 1891, the Census records Harold’s family living at 118 Grafton Street, Clee with Weelsby, Lincolnshire, where his father was a Milkman. Clee with Weelsby was part of Grimsby. By April 1892, when he started at St John’s Boys’ School, they lived at 115 Hilyard Street, Grimsby.
On 25th April 1892, the day after his 7th Birthday, Harold Catt started at St John’s Boys’ School in Grimsby, having attended the Infant Department of the Hilda Board School in Grimsby for the previous 1½ years. He completed Standard 1 at St John’s before going on to West Marsh School, Grimsby on 8th September 1893.
By 1901 Harold’s family lived at Home Farm Cottage, Warkton, Northamptonshire, where 15 year old Harold was a Stockyard Boy on a farm. His father was a Farm Stockman, as was his 27 year old brother Horace. 24 year old Jack was a Butler and 18 year old Edgar a Groom.
By 1911, Harold Catt was a Footman in the household of Lord Brownlow at Belton House, Grantham, where Matthew Fowler, Motor Driver and Herbert Jacobs, Under Butler also worked. Information in his Obituary in The Grantham Journal suggests that Harold worked for Lord Brownlow from about 1904.
A Keen Cricketer 6
Entries in The Grantham Journal record Harold playing for Belton Park in various Cricket matches between 1906 and 1937. On 7th May 1910, in the match Belton v Baptist Thursday, which resulted in a win for the Baptists by 6 runs, Harold, though out for 1 run, took 5 wickets for 26. On Whit-Monday, 1st June 1914, the Belton Park team played Kesteven Asylum at Rauceby. “A most enjoyable time was spent, both teams being about equal“. Harold batted at No.6 for Belton Park, scoring 13 runs. After four years as Vice Captain from 1922, his time as Captain in 1926 did not look promising. The February 1926 report of the AGM of Belton Park Cricket Club read:
The Annual General Meeting was held at the Estate Offices, Belton House, on Thursday evening, Mr. H. Catt occupying the chair. The accounts, showing a slightly adverse balance, were passed… It was resolved that no fixtures be arranged for the coming season owing to the lack of membership.
The club had re-formed by 1930 but by then Harold receives only occasional mention, the final occasions being in 1937 in matches Belton v Manthorpe and Belton Singles v Married, which the Singles won convincingly with Harold, by then aged 52, scoring 15 not out.
Harold Catt was one of 17 men on the Little Gaddesden Roll of Honour who volunteered for the Bedfordshire Regiment in the first month of the War.
12473 William Wells, volunteered on 26th August followed by 12589 William Grant, 12591 George Cash and almost certainly 12593 Charles Batchelor on the 27th. 13330 Frank Dove R.I.P. and 13724 Horace Halsey joined on or before 3rd September 1914 and a further 11 men attested on 3rd September. These were 13785 Edward Saunders, 14374 Harold Catt, 14452 Herbert Jacobs, 14532 John Mayling, 14553 Victor Collier, 14546 Frederick Purton R.I.P., 14557 Ernest Bearton, 14575 Arthur Maunders, 17221 Bertie Purton, 17231 Herbert Fenn and 3/8219 Jesse Holland.
Harold was posted to the 4th Battalion Bedfordshire Regiment, the regiment’s second reserve battalion. Victor Collier, Arthur Maunders, John Mayling and Edward Saunders were also posted to that battalion. When war broke out they were based at Bedford. However, the battalion then moved to Felixstowe to provide home defence around Harwich; they also provided drafts for front line battalions.
Then, in July 1916, after the initial huge losses of men on the Somme, the 4th Battalion was mobilised and sent to France, arriving on 25th July. They formed part of the 190th Brigade of the 63rd (Royal Naval) Division. The battalion then took part in the Battle of the Ancre in 1916 and 1917 and the Battle of Passchendaele in 1917.
In 1918 they fought in the German Spring Offensive, the Second Battle of the Somme in August and the Second Battle of Arras in September. In the final months of the War, they were then involved in the Battles of the Hindenburg Line and Cambrai and took part in the Final Advance in Picardy. For his War Service, Harold Catt was awarded the British War Medal and the Allied Victory Medal. He was also awarded the Military Medal.
The Supplement to the London Gazette, 23rd July 1919, records that Serjeant H Catt 14374, 4th Battalion Bedfordshire Regiment, of Grimsby, was awarded the Military Medal. The citation read:
His Majesty the KING has been graciously pleased to approve of the award of the Military Medal for bravery in the field to the undermentioned Warrant Officers, Non-Commissioned Officers and Men: — … Bedfordshire Regiment … Sjt. 14374 Catt, H., 4th Bn. (Grimsby).
His 1942 Obituary noted: “He served during the Great War, and treasured amongst his possessions three medals, including the Military Medal.“
Brother William Taken Prisoner of War 10
On 11th April 1917, Private William Herbert Catt, Service Number 242141, 2/5th Battalion, the Lincolnshire Regiment, was reported missing. At 4.30 that morning, the Battalion was ordered to attack near Hargicourt on the Somme, which the enemy were reportedly leaving. However, the information was wrong, the positions were strongly held and the Lincolns were forced back with very heavy casualties. William was among 260 killed, wounded and missing that day.
In a communication dated 28th June, he was reported Prisoner of War at Gef. Laz. (Prison Hospital) Ohrdruf ex Le Cateau with a gunshot wound to the left hand. He was eventually repatriated, arriving at Dover 19th January 1919. He was demobilised to Class Z Reserve on 21st May 1919. As the result of the gunshot wound and D.A.H. (disordered action of the heart), both attributed to his military service, William was granted a pension of 8s. 3d. per week, with a 20% bonus, to be reviewed after 26 weeks.
Brother Jack Killed in Action 11
On 23rd April 1917, Harold’s brother Jack was killed in action, aged 39, during the Battle of Arras. Private Jack Albert Catt, G13712, 1st Battalion, The Queen’s (Royal West Surrey Regiment) is commemorated on Bay 2 of the Arras Memorial, Pas de Calais, France.
Brother Arthur Killed in Action 12
Harold’s 30 year old brother Arthur was also killed in action in 1917. On 19th September, Private Arthur Francis Catt, G/58775, 32nd Battalion, Royal Fusiliers, was killed in Belgium during the 3rd Battle of Ypres. Identified by a damaged disc, he was originally buried near Gheluvelt (Geluveld) 3¾ miles (6 km) south-east of Ypres at Trench Map Reference J.26.a.34.66 (Sheet 28 N.E.):
Here is a modern map (courtesy Google Maps) of the same location:
Arthur was subsequently buried at Tyne Cot Cemetery, West Vlaanderen, Belgium. His grave reference is LVII. F. 36.
Men who have answered their country’s call in defence of a “Scrap of Paper”
Harold Catt is named on the Roll of Honour, which hangs in St Peter & St Paul’s Church, Little Gaddesden and lists 119 men from Little Gaddesden, Ringshall and Hudnall who served in the 1914 – 1918 War. His entry records him serving in the 4th Bn. Bedfordshire Regiment. He is similarly shown on the Centenary Revision of the Roll.
Rolls of Honour photos: Jane Dickson, Michael Carver
The Belton Roll of Honour
Harold Catt is one of seven men named on the original Roll of Honour for Little Gaddesden and the Roll of Honour in St Peter and St Paul’s Church, Belton. All were servants of Lord Brownlow, who owned Ashridge House in Hertfordshire and Belton House near Grantham. Harold served as Footman and then Butler to the Brownlows for a period of approximately 36 years from about 1904 to 1940. The other men named on both Rolls are: Walter Darby, Frank Dove, Matthew Fowler, Herbert Jacobs, Mark Kinchington (recorded Kisington at Belton) and Ernest Moore. Herbert Flowers and Rupert Flowers, whose father was Lord Brownlow’s Coachman, are named on the Belton Roll and have been added to the Centenary Revision of the Little Gaddesden Roll.
Registered to Vote at Ashridge 13
Between 1919 and Spring 1921, Electoral Registers show Harold registered to vote at Ashridge House – though he is likely to have been at Belton where Lord Brownlow was by then resident.
“Belton. Welcome Home” 14
A report in the Grantham Journal of 7th June 1919, describes the celebration to welcome men back to Belton:
It was desired, while Lord Brownlow was still in residence, at Belton, to show, on behalf of the whole village and parish, some mark of public welcome to all the brave men in any way connected with Belton, on their safe return from the war, and of united thanks to them and appreciation of their gallant services.
A delightful Social Evening Party was accordingly organised and held in the Schoolroom, on Thursday June 5th, attended by Lord Brownlow and all parishioners, and to which special cards of invitation were issued to our heroes.
The entertainment was in the hands of Mr Pither, who arranged an admirable variety performance of fun and music, in which local talent took part, powerfully aided by Messers. Matt Broughton and Thompson of Grantham.
Proceedings began at 8 o’clock with a short opening speech by Lord Brownlow, in which he touched upon the main purpose of the gathering and spoke feelingly of those who had fallen and of those who mourned their loss. The names of the invited men who have returned were then read out and each, in turn, amid welcoming hand claps, came forward and shook hands with Lord Brownlow.
Abundant refreshments provided by his Lordship were spread in the open air in the Schoolyard. Dancing followed and the happy gathering was kept up until 1 o’clock, when the proceedings were brought to an end with three cheers for Lord Brownlow and the singing of God Save the King.Quoted extract courtesy of the Grantham Journal
From Autumn 1921, Harold lived permanently at Belton. In retirement, he lodged in the village with Mr & Mrs A. J. Tear.
Harold died in Belton on 4th January 1942. His Obituary in the Grantham Journal of 9th January 1942 gave the following account:
Mr Harold Joseph Catt, aged 57, of Belton, who before his retirement some two years ago was employed by Lord Brownlow, L.L., as Butler, at Belton House, passed away with tragic suddenness on Sunday, (= 4th January) at the home of Mr. and Mrs. A. J. Tear, of Belton with whom he resided.
“Mr Catt appeared in his usual health on Saturday night,” stated Mrs. Tear to a “Journal” reporter. “At about 9 a.m. on Sunday I took him a cup of tea as usual. Every morning since he has been with us he always spoke and said “Good morning”, but on Sunday morning he did not speak. I opened the shutters to let him know I had been and went up again about 11 o’clock. I saw he looked very white and suspected something was wrong. We immediately got in touch with Lord Brownlow who came to the house, and as Dr Dawson was in the village he came as well followed by Dr Jauch. Mr Catt was found to be dead.
“He was out on Saturday night as usual, and he ate a hearty tea and supper. He never complained, though he had suffered from heart trouble, and in July was in Grantham Hospital for treatment for about a fortnight. Mr Catt was very happy and comfortable whilst he was here, and was very much respected by all who knew him.”
His chief pastimes were following the hounds, fishing and shooting. Only recently, he had followed the local pack on his cycle when they met in the district. A single man, Mr. Catt hailed from March, Cambs., and had been in the employ of the Brownlow family for about 36 years. He served during the Great War, and treasured amongst his possessions three medals, including the Military Medal.Quoted extract courtesy of the Grantham Journal
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Research, text and (unless otherwise credited) photos: Jane Dickson