Harold Oswald Monro was born in Glasgow, Lanarkshire, on 1st January 1896 to Elizabeth Croll Monro [née Monro] and her husband George Monro, his father’s occupation being listed as a Stevedore/Employer on the 1901 census. He was the youngest of two brothers and two sisters.

Harold was educated, firstly at the High School of Glasgow, founded as the Choir School of Glasgow Cathedral in the 12th Century, becoming the Grammar School of Glasgow in the 15th Century, before finally changing its name again in 1834. He then went on to Wellington College1 where he was a member of the Officers Training Corps [OTC], completing his education in 1913 when he became a trainee accountant. An offer of a place at Glasgow University the following year was not taken up as Harold’s plans were thwarted by the outbreak of war.

On 6th September 1914 Harold signed up for 4 years army service joining the 1/9th (Glasgow Highland) Battalion, Highland Light Infantry as Private [2632] Harold Monro.

After initial training Harold arrived in France on 23rd January 1915 to join his Battalion, who had been out in France as part of the British Expeditionary Force [BEF] since November the previous year, leading one of the first batches of casualty replacements.

In September 1915 he spent two periods of hospitalisation with No.5 Field Ambulance due to injury. Harold was made up to acting Lance-Corporal on 28th April 1916 and confirmed in the rank on 15th July 1916.

Desirous of a commission Harold had submitted his application back in November 1915 when, finally on 5th September 1916 he was transferred to No.10 Officer Cadet Battalion. He was duly commissioned into the 3/9th Battalion at Catterick on 18th December 1916.

Harold was sent back to France where he re-joined his old Battalion, arriving in CORBIE on 24th March 1917 in a party of four officers and twenty-eight other ranks: a casualty replacement for a second time.

By 6.00pm on 16th May 1917 the Battalion had been positioned so as to be able to play its part on the forthcoming attack on the HINDENBURG LINE but an hour later an order had come through announcing a postponement leaving them in their bivouacs.

The 18th May was spent cleaning equipment and practicing for the forthcoming operation whilst the officers receiving their final briefings. By 9.30pm on 19th May the Battalion was located east north-east of HAMLINCOURT and had embedded themselves into the assembly trenches in readiness.

In the early hours of 20th May, at 2.30am, four Lewis Guns and their crews had been moved forward to their line of deployment so as to be able to give covering fire later on. At 4.30am the Battalion moved rapidly forward to their jumping-off point and sixty minutes later the attack commenced in a dense mist accompanied by smoke grenades.

By 6.30am the lead Companies had breached the first line of trenches in the HINDENBURG LINE and the casualties had climbed ever higher. As the hours passed consolidation of the line had become firm with an order being received that, at all costs, the line must be held.

The enemy had continued to send out bombing parties leaving the British stretcher bearers exposed to heavy shell fire. At around this time Second-Lieutenant Harold Oswald Monro, 1/9th (Glasgow Highland) Battalion, Highland Light Infantry, was severely wounded as he breached the German fortifications. Although being stretchered back to No.55 Field Ambulance he succumbed to his wounds the following day, Thursday 21st May 1917. He was 21 years old.

Harold lies buried within Bucquoy Road Cemetery, in Ficheux, near to where he died. The cemetery, designed by Sir Edwin Lutyens contains 1,900 of his comrades of the First World War. Twenty-three years later the cemetery once again received British dead of another world war.

In the Spring of 1919, when the enormous task of rationalising the graves of the dead and the creation of the memorials to the fallen was underway, Harold’s father wrote to War Office asking them ‘to be good enough to particularly observe that our name is spelt Monro, not Munro.’

Harold is also commemorated on the splendid First World War memorial in The High School of Glasgow.

The Highland Light Infantry is perpetuated today in The Royal Highland Fusiliers, [2nd Battalion] The Royal Regiment of Scotland.

1. Contemporaries from his time at Wellington at the time of the 1911 census and who died in the War can be found in Appendix 1.

See also the Imperial War Museum permanent digital memorial to the ‘Lives of the First World War’ for HO Monro.https://livesofthefirstworldwar.iwm.org.uk/lifestory/3091300