Royal Artillery

The obituary of

Battery Sergeant Major Herbert Hirst Naylor


printed in The Holmfirth Express on 3rd November 1917

Royal Artillery



Sgt-Mjr H H Naylor
After wearing the uniform of his sovereign for over twenty years, Battery-Sergt.-Major Herbert H. Naylor, who was always proud to be known as a Hinchliffe Mill lad, being the son of the late Mr. Lot Naylor and Mrs. Naylor, has been called upon to place his life on the altar of the nation. The official news which has come to hand is to the effect that death was due to burns, and occurred on a date not known. Whatever the manner of his death, it may be taken for granted that the gallant soldier's end was in keeping with his career - devoted to his country and true to the high ideal he had for the national service. Herbert H. Naylor at an early age formed the ambition to become a soldier, and consequently it was no surprise to his relatives and friends when soon after his eighteenth birthday - as soon as he was eligible - he offered his services to the R.G.A. A smart lad both physically and in other respects, the youth was readily accepted for a gunner, although as a matter of fact, while above the average height, he was half-an-inch below the high standard required. This was on Easter Tuesday, 1897 - twenty years ago last Easter. After the necessary training at various forts in England, the young soldier was drafted on foreign service and served in Nova Scotia, Quebec, British Columbia, Hong Kong and Singapore. This foreign service occupied six years, and then the young man returned to the British Isles, being put on the staff of the Garrison Artillery at New Brighton. There he remained until five years ago, when he was again sent on foreign service, his destination this time being Jamaica. There he was busily engaged when the European conflict broke out. Anxious to be in the fighting, the young soldier voluntarily proferred his services for the war, but owing to his indispensability his superior officer would not countenance such a proposition. But Herbert's offer for European service was eventually favourably received by the authorities, and although he was promised the rank of Sergt.-Major, which is, of course, the highest non-commissioned rank, if he would remain, he refused the honour rather than set aside his desire to go to the Western Front. Thus it came about that Herbert Naylor was selected to bring out a draft of experienced gunners, who, after an exciting trip, successfully ran the gauntlet and arrived in England in August, 1916. The honour which the gallant soldier had placed secondary to his wish to be of greater service to the nation was, however, only delayed a little, for on reaching the mother country he was immediately promoted to the rank of Battery-Sergt.-Major, and was drafted to a newly-formed heavy Siege Battery, which was quickly licked into shape and taken out to France about a fortnight before last Christmas. Since the Sergt.-Major has been out in France he has been in his element - in the thick of the fight, and his letters home have been characterised by the greatest cheerfulness and confidence. The gallant soldier appeared to be possessed of a profound belief in the outlook reflected in the words, "There's a destiny that shapes our ends, rough hew them as we will," for his motto ever was "Kismet," a word which he repeatedly used in his letters home. The Sergt.-Major was looking forward to his leave - in fact his relatives were expecting him when the fateful message of his death came to hand. On more than one occasion, Sergt.-Major Naylor has been offered commission rank, but he refused such offers - he wished to finish with the section where he had served, he wished to finish as "a ranker." There he had gained the highest place possible, and there he wished to remain to the end of his military career. Sergt.-Major Naylor was the proud possessor of the long service and good conduct medal and another medal for service in China. Whilst at New Brighton, Sergt.-Major Naylor married a Liverpool young lady, and there are three children of the union. As a boy Herbert Naylor attended Field End School, and was thus one of Mr. G. H. Ingham's old scholars, and he was also connected with St. David's, Holme Bridge, being a member of the choir. At the time of his enlistment, Herbert was apprentice with Messrs. Lawton & Hogley, painters and decorators, Holmfirth. Three other brothers are with the colours. Ptes. Willie and Hirst Naylor, who have been in France over two years, and the youngest lad, Seaman Gunner Frank Naylor, is with the Navy. The sympathies of a wide circle of friends are extended to the bereaved families, and an extract from a sympathetic letter received from a military friend which contains the passage, "I always found him a very straight-forward fellow" - not only reflects the opinion of those in the service but people in civil life who knew the fallen soldier intimately.

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His grave is at Hazebrouck Communal Cemetery, Nord, France.  

The inscription reads:





Sgt-Mjr H H Naylor's gravestone

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His entry on the Commonwealth War Graves Commission website reads:

In Memory of

Battery Serjeant Major (WO II) H H Naylor


225th Siege Bty., Royal Garrison Artillery

who died

on Wednesday 17 October 1917

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Most recent update: 17th September 2008