"On the firestep in the trenches during the night, you could hear the groaning of the dying — but you couldn't go out to help them. There were rats feeding on their flesh. They were dying there, dying in misery and pain, and the rats were nibbling away at their flesh."
-Cecil Withers, British Private
HENRY JAMES HEATH
Henry James Heath was the youngest Son of Alfred and Maria Heath of 13 Sunnybank, Riverhead. He was born in Sevenoaks in 1893 and baptised at St Mary's Church. He was the brother of Norman Alfred Heath who also appears on the Riverhead Memorial. In addition he had two other brothers Alfred John and Arthur William and a sister Rose Ethel. According to the 1911 census Henry was a postman.
His Army records have not survived but we know from newspaper reports that he joined the army on 6th December 1915 and landed in France on 29th June 1916 with the 8th London Rifle Brigade (a few days before the Somme offensive began on 1st July). On 11th July 1916 he transferred to the 5th London Rifle Brigade.
The offensive on the Somme was to last until November 1916 and consisted of a series of battles. The battle in which Henry Heath died was the battle of Guillemont which took place between 3rd and 6th September 1916.
He was at first reported missing but his death was later confirmed.