Rank or Title
Date of Birth
Date of Death
21 Jan 1916
Place of Birth
World War I Address
Place of Death
War Memorial Location
Soldier or Civilian
Sgt Harry Pestell, 16949, C Company, 7th Bedfords, was killed in action near Fricourt, France, on January 21st, 1916. He was aged 29.
Born in Buckhurst Hill, Essex, in 1887, he had for about 14 years made his home with Ernest and Fanny Barford, who at the time of Harry's death were running a grocery stores at 44 Old Bedford Road, Luton. Harry was working as a grocer's assistant at the shop at the time of the 1911 Census.
Immediately before enlisting, Harry was employed at George Kent's and he became engaged to Miss Cecilia (Cissie) Allen, eldest daughter of Frederick and Ellen Allen, of Woodbine House, 63 Havelock Road, Luton. News of Harry's death arrived on Cissie's birthday.
In a letter, Capt Ernest Clegg, 7th Bedfords, wrote: "In the death of Sgt Pestell we have lost a brave and excellent sergeant, one who had been an example of devotion and duty, cheerful and uncomplaining even under trying circumstances. Men of his stamp are hard to find and I personally am very grieved at his death. It may be of some comfort to know that his death was practically instantaneous."
In a letter to Miss Allen, Sgt W. P. Cooper said his chum Harry was killed by a bullet at 4.15 on the morning of January 21st.
Harry had come to Luton as a 14-year-old grocer's apprentice to the Barfords at a shop in Hastings Street in 1901. Ten years previously he seems to have been living with his blacksmith grandfather's family in Shipdham, Norfolk, where his Aunt Fanny (nee Pestell) was born. His aunt and uncle married in early 1896 in Luton.