Rank or Title
Date of Birth
21 Aug 1900
Date of Death
14 Oct 1918
Media files and documents
War time / or Pre War occupation
Place of Birth
World War I Address
Place of Death
War Memorial Location
Soldier or Civilian
Harold William Charles Brightman was born in Luton in 1900. He came from a large family and was the eldest son of 7 children to William J & Emma.
In 1911 the family are living at 25a Langley Street, Luton. William & Emma are both 38 years old & working as a straw hat machinists. Harold's eldest sister Hilda is 14 years old & working as a packer at the Co-operative Society's cocoa factory, which opened in Luton in Dallow Road in September 1902, due to the rise in demand for chocolate. Ivy 12, Harold 10 & youngest son Leslie 8 are all at school. There is also Winnie 4, Elsie, 2, and 7-month-old Marjorie living in this five roomed property.
No service record survives for Harold, but we do know that he was in the 53rd Battalion Kings Royal Rifles. He did not serve overseas as this was a reserve brigade, a basic training unit in Northampton.
A report in the Beds & Herts Saturday Telegraph said Rifleman Brightman's father contacted MP Cecil Harmsworth to complain about conditions at the camp. He had visited his son on one occasion and found him sleeping under canvas through which the frequent rains continually dripped. There were no boards on the ground, only a tarpaulin and blanket being available. The consequence was that his son, plus others, developed a chill, and pneumonia followed in Harold's case.
After being summoned to the camp, Mr and Mrs Brightman caught the midnight train to see their son, who on Friday morning (October 11th) was already in a delirious condition and knew them only in short intervals. Harold passed away the following Monday morning (October 14th).
Harold died at the age of 18. His body was returned to Luton on the Thursday following his death and he is buried in the cemetery in Crawley Green Road.