A 100-year-old woman has paid tribute to her war hero father on the centenary of his death.
Margaret Harpin may be the oldest living descendant of a soldier killed in World War One and today (Wed) she laid a wreath at the Huddersfield Drill Hall in memory of Private Henri Harpin.
Pte Harpin, of the 2nd/5th Battalion the Duke of Wellington’s Regiment, was killed fighting in the Battle for Bullecourt on May 3, 1917.
Miss Harpin made everyone laugh when she raised her glass in memory of Pte Harpin and said: “Here’s to next year.”
She said she “cherished” the event and wanted to donate his medals to the Drill Hall.
Major David Harrap paid a touching tribute to Pte Harpin, whose body was never recovered and with no known grave the Drill Hall is the only memorial in the UK where his name is recorded.
Major Harrap said: “Both Flora and Margaret have treasured Henri’s memory and I have no doubt that Henri will look down with immense pride and love to know that a century after his death his daughter is here today.”
Pte Harpin was born on October 19, 1888 and lived on Bow Street. He was educated in Huddersfield and became an engineer.
He met Flora Fudger and they wed at St Andrew’s Church on Leeds Road and lived at Springwood Avenue. Margaret was born two months before Pte Harpin’s death.
He was enlisted on August 4 1914, six days after the declaration of war, with the 5th Battalion The Duke of Wellington’s Regiment.
Major Harrap explained Pte Harpin’s 2nd/5th Battalion embarked for France in January 1917 as part of the 62nd West Riding Division. “The division was committed soon after to the Arras Campaign of April and May 1917,” he said.
“The campaign was an attempt to break out of the long stalemate of trench warfare by breaching the Hindeburg Line of defences established by the Germans.
“Bullecourt was a strong point in the Hindenburg line. Henri was killed on the first day of the 62nd Division’s attack on Bullecourt.”
His wife Flora never remarried and worked as a nurse in the Nottingham area until she was 72.
Miss Harpin became an ophthalmic nurse and served with the 8th Army in Egypt in WW2.
At the touching service, led by the Rev Ben Norton, Major General Sir Evelyn Webb-Carter, the Last Colonel of the Duke of Wellington’s Regiment, gave a reading of In Flanders Fields and bugler April Farthing played the Last Post. Mayor of Kirklees, Clr Jim Dodds, also attended.
Wreaths were laid to Pte Harkin and those of the Battalions whose names are recorded on the memorials at the St Paul’s Reserve Centre.
His name is also recorded on the Arras Memorial to the Missing in France.