Henry Ellis “Harry” Hoad, 1897-1917

Chaz Brenchley found a family bible with a school recommendation in it, and then found out what happened to poor Harry Hoad, such a promising boy, along with most of his generation.

And I thought he’d be dead anyway, he was born a hundred and twenty years ago. He died ninety years ago. But he could have lived seventy years and left things to posterity. He might have become a great artist, or maybe not, maybe he’d have been a draughtsman in an office and a husband and a father and a grandfather. But he didn’t, poor Harry. I keep thinking of his parents putting that recommendation into the bible. It was probably all they had of him. They must have been so proud. But the bible was left in the attic. Maybe the whole family died out with Harry. Our lives are so fragile, so easily lost, so quickly forgotten.

The last thing the world needs is more Great War poetry, or even songs, but there you go. Here’s Ken Walton singing it to his own tune.

Young Harry Hoad was an excellent lad
His conduct was good and his schoolwork not bad,
He was good with his drawing since he was just small
But he’s nobody’s grand-dad at all.

He’s nobody’s grand-dad, no grand-dad at all
No pictures for birthdays, no kicking a ball,
No kids rushing out at his step in the hall,
He’s nobody’s grand-dad at all

He was somebody’s pupil and somebody’s son
He was well recommended, he worked and he won
They must have been proud, he was grown up and tall,
But he’s nobody’s grand-dad at all.


He was Corporal Hoad, he went over the top
In the war in the trenches that no-one could stop
He was brave and determined, he answered the call
But he’s nobody’s grand-dad at all.


Now all that remains is his headmaster’s word
And a cross in a field, and the fact that we heard
What we’re learning today of his life and his fall,
For he’s nobody’s grand-dad at all.