PRIVATE HARRY EDWARD RIVERS
30TH OCTOBER 1918 AGE 19
BURIED: BERLIN SOUTH-WESTERN CEMETERY, GERMANY
Harry Rivers was taken prisoner on 27 May 1918. At 9 pm the previous evening the 7th Battalion Leicestershire Regiment received information from Brigade Head Quarters that two German prisoners had warned them of an attack timed to start at 3 am the following morning, to be preceded by a bombardment that would begin at 1 am. This is what happened. It was the opening day of the Third Battle of the Aisne, what the Germans called Operation Bluecher. By the end of the day the Germans had broken through the Allied lines, in some places to the extent of 15 miles.
On 30 May the 7th Battalion war diary recorded that although only two officers and fifteen soldiers were known to have been killed, 19 officers and 431 soldiers were missing.
Rivers was one of the missing, he was taken prisoner and held with more than 1,500 Russian, French, Belgian, Portuguese, Italian, Serbian and British prisoners of war at Altdamm, 8 km east of Stettin on the Polish-German border. Rivers' death was recorded on the 31 October 1918 at the Register Officer in Altdamm as having taken place at 8 pm the previous day. No cause was given for his death.
Harry Rivers attested in September 1916 when he was 17 and 6 months. His mobilization in April 1917 was announced and then withdrawn, perhaps because he was only just 18 and therefore too young to be sent abroad. It was 31 March 1918 before he went to France. He had scarcely been there two months before he became a prisoner.
Rivers' mother chose his inscription, his father was dead. It comes from 'When We Two Parted', a poem by Lord Byron (1788-1824) in which the poet laments a faithless lover who betrayed him by going off with another man.