Harold Thomas MEDDOWS was born in 1898 in Newbold-on-Avon, Rugby; registered in Q2, 1898; and baptised in Newbold, on 22 May 1898. He was the fourth of five sons of William Henry Meddows (b.c.1863 in Newbold) and Mary Ann, née Sharp, Meddows (b.c.1861 in Copston, Leicesteshire). They had married on 21 August 1888 at St Oswald’s church, New Bilton.
In 1891, William Henry Meddows was a ‘Carrier and Post Office keeper’ at the Old Woodyard in Newbold on Avon, and by 1901, his son Harold was three years old. The family was living in Newbold at the Grocers shop, where his father, William Henry, was both the ‘Postmaster and Grocer’. Harold’s mother, Mary Ann, was the Post Mistress.
In 1903 Harold’s mother died, and she was buried on 12 March 1903 in St. Botolph’s churchyard, Newbold on Avon, leaving children aged from 2 to 13 years of age. In 1911 the family were still living in Newbold and Harold’s father was enumerated as a ‘Carrier and Sub-postmaster’.
Harold’s Service Record has not survived but his Medal Card shows that he joined up initially as a Private, No.21114, in the 3rd Battalion, the Royal Warwickshire Regiment. His later Silver War Badge record stated that he had joined up on 10 August 1916.
It would have been some time before he was trained and sent to France, probably not before the end of 1916. The 3rd Battalion had fought …
… During later 1916 in the Battle of Delville Wood, (15 July – 3 September 1916); the Battle of Guillemont, (3-6 September 1916); and in the Operations on the Ancre. Then during 1917 they were in action during the German retreat to the Hindenburg Line; the Arras offensive; the Battle of Polygon Wood; the Battle of Broodseinde; the Battle of Poelcapelle and the Second Battle of Passchendaele (26 October and 10 November 1917).
At some date probably in, say, mid 1917, it appears that he was wounded, and later transferred to the Labour Corps as No.353050. It seems that he was also gassed – which may have provided the classification ‘wounded’. He had been transferred to the 364th Reserve Company Royal Warwickshires when he was discharged because of sickness under Clause xvi (a) (i) ‘No longer physically fit for war service’ on 4 December 1917, when he was aged 19. He may have still been in hospital at that date, after being gassed.
He was awarded a Silver War Badge, on 22 January 1918. The Silver War Badge was given to men discharged from active service, due to wounds or illness, and was in part provided so that they were not accused of avoiding service, as it showed they had served and been wounded.
It is assumed that he was home in Rugby, and possibly in hospital there, when he died, aged 20, on 26 March 1919. His death was registered in Rugby in Q1, 1919. The CWGC record states that he ‘Died of phthisis following wounds (gas)’.
He was buried in Plot: G. 286. at the Clifton Road Cemetery, Rugby. The CWGC contact when he was buried was ‘Mrs G. Creed, 27 Graham Road, Rugby’. Mrs. G Creed, was his sister, Elsie, whose marriage with George Creed had been registered in Q3, 1915, soon after Harold and Elsie’s father’s death on 2 February 1915, when he was 52 years old. Elsie Creed was later buried with her brother in Clifton Road Cemetery.
The family added the inscription ‘Greater Love Hath No Man Than This Who Giveth His Life For His Friends’.
Harold Thomas MEDDOWS was awarded the British War and Victory Medals. He is remembered on the Rugby Memorial Gates; on his CWGC gravestone at Clifton Road Cemetery, and also on the Newbold War Memorial at St. Botolph’s Church.
His brother, Albert Edward Sharp Meddows, also served in WWI with the Army Service Corps, the Royal Engineers and latterly with the 5th HQ Signal Company, attached to the 34th Brigade, Royal Field Artillery. He was killed in action on the third day of the First Battle of Passchendaele on 14 October 1917, together with three other Rugby men. He is buried in Bard Cottage Cemetery, Ypres. He left a wife and two children.
His brother Horace also served, with the Worcestershire Regiment, from March 1916 to January 1919, when he received a Silver War Badge. He married in 1922 and lived until 1950 and died in Rugby, aged 56 years.
Fuller family details are given in the biography of Harold’s brother, Albert Edward Sharp Meddows.
RUGBY REMEMBERS HIM
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This article on Harold Thomas MEDDOWS was researched and written for a Rugby Family History Group [RFHG] project, by John P H Frearson. Thanks are given to Marian Evans, the author of the biography of Harold’s brother, Albert Edward Sharp Meddows, who died on 14 October 1917 for the use of some of her information and confirmatory material. This biography is © John P H Frearson and the RFHG, October 2018.
 At a slightly later date, possibly when his records were being updated: (a) would refer to ‘during a period of war or demobilisation’, (i) would refer to ‘If the soldier is a patient in hospital’.
 Whilst the term ‘phthisis’ is no longer in scientific use, it described tuberculosis, involving the lungs, and a progressive wasting of the body. It could be brought on by the gasses used in the war.