Born in Belgrave on 5th August 1896, Harold James Sarson was the only child of parents James Esau Sarson (1870-1928) and Clara Page (1871-1948) who married at St Peter’s Belgrave in 1895. James was a yarn warehouseman and was sidesman at St Martin’s from 1882 until his death in 1928. In 1901 the Sarsons lived at 16 St Michael Avenue but by 1911 had moved just around the corner to 9 Lancashire Street, where James and Clara would remain until 1928.
After Harold left school he began work as a railway clerk. By 1915 he was a shipping clerk, probably for the railway. In April of that year he suffered appendicitis and underwent an operation two days after starting to feel unwell. During the operation it was found that Harold’s abdomen contained pus. He developed severe pneumonia and was in hospital for over three weeks. His wound would not heal properly and kept breaking open, causing a ‘weak scar’ and ongoing pain. Harold also had very poor teeth which troubled him.
As a result of all of this, when Harold was assessed by the military medical team in December 1915 aged just 19, he was found to be in poor physical condition – graded C3 – and only fit for sedentary duties. As Harold had previously worked as a clerk he was posted to a clerking role within the Leicestershire Regiment, remaining in England for the duration of the war. He was appointed lance corporal on 28th June 1916, initially unpaid. On the 17th April 1918 Harold transferred to the Kings Own Yorkshire Light Infantry 17th April 1918 and again to the 3rd Yorkshire Regiment on 16th June 1919. He was discharged with a small pension for a limited period, due to 20% disablement not caused by military service but by his previous appendicitis, on 25th July 1919. Harold also had an enlarged thyroid and trembling hands. He returned to his parents address at 9 Lancashire Street and to civilian clerking.
Harold married Florrie Victoria “Victoria” Lowe (1897-1979) at St Michael’s, Belgrave on 10th February 1925 and they moved in together at 42 Wellington where their daughters Sheila (1926-1933) and Betsy (1928-) were born. Sheila died in 1933 aged 6 and is buried in the churchyard at St James the Greater, Birstall. In 1930 Harold, Victoria and Betsy moved to Carisbrooke, 48 Wanlip Lane Birstall. Perhaps Harold’s health improved with age because in 1939 he worked as a heating and plumbing engineer. Harold and Victoria remained at Carisbrooke until they died, Harold on 4th August 1975 and Victoria in 1979.