Henry Dester BARROWS was born in early 1881 in Rugby, and registered there – possibly slightly late – as Harry Dester Barrows, in Q2, 1881. He was the third son of Edmund Barrows (a tailor and son of a tailor, b.c.1848 in Lutterworth) and Emma, née Emily Warner, Barrows (the daughter of a shoemaker, also b.c.1848 in Lutterworth). They had married on 13 March 1872 at St Philip’s church, Birmingham.
In the 1874, 1876 and 1880 Rugby Directories, Edmund Barrows was listed as a Tailor, living at 3 Round Street, and this is confirmed by the 1881 census.
On 3 April 1881, Henry was just three months old, suggesting that he was born in late December 1880 or January 1881. The family were living at 3 Round Street, Rugby. Henry’s father Edmund was still a Tailor. In 1881 Edmund’s schoolmistress sister was with them at the house. In 1884, the family was at an unnumbered property in Bridgett Street. By 1891, they had moved to live at nearby 2 Oliver Street, Rugby. Henry’s father Edmund was still a Tailor. Henry was just 10 and at school – he may have gone to St. Matthew’s School like his elder brother.
By 1901 Henry’s mother was widowed and living with her sister at 7 George Street, Rugby. Henry was aged 19, single and boarding at 24 Allestree Road, Fulham – where he was a ‘builder’s plasterer’. In 1911 Harry was enumerated as aged 28, still single, still working as a Plasterer, and boarding at Providence Villa, Fairfield, Leatherhead, Surrey.
His Service Record survives, within the ‘burnt records’, as do his Medal Card and Award Roll, all in the name ‘Harry Barrows’ which show him as a Sapper, in the Royal Engineers, initially as No:(T)3028 and latterly as Sapper No.546617 in J Depot Company, Royal Engineers.
He was attested on 2 October 1915 at 10 Victoria Park Square, London into the 3rd/1st London Field Company, Royal Engineers. He was 34, 5ft 6½ inches tall and of good physical development.
He gave his address as 16 Bennett Street, Rugby, presumed to now be the home of his widowed mother – but later also noted as the address of his aunt Charlotte, his father’s sister, who was the CWGC contact after Henry’s death.
To summarise his service: he was in UK from 2 October 1915 to 8 April 1916; then in France from 9 April 1916 to 8 July 1916, and then back in UK from 9 July 1916 until his death.
Later in October 1915 he received two anti-typhoid inoculations. On 9 April 1916 he arrived at No.2 Terr: Base from Eng – on service. On 13 April 1916, he joined ‘Field Unit from Base’.
On 1 July 1916, the first day of the Battle of the Somme, he was wounded, and was admitted to the 2/1st Field Ambulance on 2 July 1916. His Service Record confirms that he was wounded in action on 1 July 1916, and the CWGC site notes that he was ‘Wounded at Gommecourt, 1 July 1916’. He was also listed as a casualty in the Rugby Advertiser later that month,
Other Rugby casualties reported recently are: Diver W Elkington (11137) killed ; and F H Warden (2168), F Burberry (275), and Sapper H Barrows, R.E.; Ptes J Varney (Rugby), A Welsby (New Bilton), and T Lee (Swinford), wounded.
On 8 July the No 16 General Hospital embarked him at Havre for England per H.S. ?Bella, with ‘G.S.W. Back and Buttock’, and the next day, 9 July 1916 he was admitted to a Red Cross hospital, where he remained until ?27 July 1916 with ‘GSW [gunshot wounds] back & chest, Severe lacerated flesh wounds’.
He did not return to France, but was on ‘Home’ duty and posted to Ireland, where on 20 April 1917, now aged 37, it seems he was again hospitalised at Curragh, with a ‘weakness left knee’ and awaiting a ‘surgeons report please’. The doctor’s Report is not legible but appears to mention his ‘GSW’.
On 27 August 1917 he was posted to 415th Lowland Field Company, Royal Engineers at Oughterard, Co. Galway, Ireland. A further posting from the 415th Field Company to ‘J Dep: Coy: 94 (2)’ as Sapper No.546617 was noted on 21/22 October 1918 possibly to ?Ballinsaby.
He remained in Ireland, but on 19 February 1919, he was again admitted to hospital … with ‘influenza pneumonia’. His medical notes – partly burnt – are on his file:
Onset: shivering ….
19/2/19 – On admission T.100 P.88 … Lungs: a few scattered … a few creps at base, no dullness B.B. or sign of ?consclids …
20/2/19 – T.102 R.98 P.100. cough slight, sputum very little. No change … lungs. He has a number of old scars on back the result …
21/2/19 – T.99 R.30. states he feels much better and more comfortable.
22/2/19 – Temp rose 102 this morning. P.120 R.40. it fell slightly in the afternoon. Patient does not complain of feeling ill.
23/2/19 – T.99. P.96 R.28. patient is comfortable and feels better.
24/2/19 – Patient had a bad night in the early part, became worse near morning, he died at 8.20 a.m. He was not placed on the seriously ill list as he had not any signs of being very ill.
I think a P.M. should be made as some of the old wounds may have had something to do with his sudden collapse.
(Sd.) M Henry O.S.
He ‘died suddenly’ on 24 February 1919 at the ‘Military Hospital, Belfast from Influenza’. The CWGC site also confirmed that he ‘Died of Pneumonia, 24 February 1919’.
His body was returned to Rugby, and he was buried in Plot: G. 364. at Rugby (Clifton Road) Cemetery. The CWGC contact when he was buried was ‘Miss G. Burrows, 16 Bennett Street, Rugby’.
A few days later the Rugby Advertiser reported,
‘Deaths – BARROWS. – On Monday, Feb. 24th, at the Military Hospital, Belfast, Sapper HARRY DESTER, R.E., the youngest and dearly beloved son of Mrs. Barrows, 16 Bennett Street, aged 37, Interred at Rugby Cemetery, Saturday, March 1st.’
Henry Dester BARROWS was awarded the British War and Victory Medals and is remembered on the Rugby Memorial Gates.
On 18 July 1919 his mother was sent his effects which she duly acknowledged:
‘Purse, badges, pouch, wallet, photos, tin of tobacco, lanyards, pair of braces, letters and religious books, clasp knife, pair of braces, pocket knife, leather belt, pair of gloves, shaving brush, handkerchiefs, razors, button stick, 2 pipes, pair of slippers, pocket knife, tooth brush.’
His mother, Emma Barrows, received 5/11d per week from 25 August 1919. Only just over a year later she died; her death was registered in late 1920 in Rugby, she was 73.
Henry’s elder brother, Alfred, also served in WWI as a Private, No:12049 in the 1st and later the 6th Bn. Dorsetshire Regiment. He went to France on the 13 July 1915 and survived the war, being placed in ‘Class Z’, in case of any need for recall, when he was discharged on 30 April 1919. He had been wounded during the battle of the Somme and in September 1916, the Rugby Advertiser noted,
ST MATTHEW’S OLD BOYS WOUNDED.
Amongst the casualties in the great advance are … and Pte A Barrows, Dorset Regt, all wounded.
RUGBY REMEMBERS HIM
– – – – – –
This article on Henry Dester BARROWS was researched and written for a Rugby Family History Group [RFHG] project, by John P H Frearson and is © John P H Frearson and the RFHG, October 2018.
 Kenning, Rugby Almanack, 1874, 1876 and 1880.
 Kenning, Rugby Almanack, 1884.
 Frank Burbury was born in Rugby, joined the 10th Battalion of the Rifle Brigade was taken prisoner in 1918, but survived the war. His life has been researched and some of his documents and correspondence from WWI are now in Rugby Museum. His photographs have also been preserved.
 https://rugbyremembers.wordpress.com/2016/07/22/22nd-jul-1916-helping-the-prisoners-of-war/; and also see: Rugby Advertiser, 22 July 1916.
 Rugby Advertiser, Friday, 7 March 1919.
 Rugby Advertiser, 16 September 1916.