Harold Mather was an employee of the Co-operative Wholesale Society (CWS) Statistical Department in Manchester. His father was also a co-operator and worked as the manager of the Clifton Co-operative Society. He enlisted in the army in May 1916, joining the Royal Garrison Artillery as a Gunner. He was then dispatched with his regiment to fight on the Western Front.
Mather was killed on 28 September 1917, aged 28. He left behind a wife and two children. He was posthumously awarded the British War Medal and the Victory Medal. The Co-operative News article that reported his death started with the line ‘The list of C.W.S employees who have been killed in the war continues to lengthen.’ The war had carried on longer than anyone had expected at the outbreak and by the end of the conflict there had been an estimated ten million military deaths.
Co-operative News, 13 October 1917, page 795.
WWI co-operative voices
This post is part of ‘WWI co-operative voices’ which shares the stories of co-operative workers and members during the conflict. In order to mark the centenary of the WWI, the Rochdale Pioneers Museum is staging an exhibition entitled ‘From shop floor to front line’ and the accounts of these soldiers, shop workers and conscientious objectors will run alongside it. They are tales of death, duty and of those who chose not to fight.
Through ‘WWI co-operative voices’ we will be releasing new posts about these individuals throughout the duration of the exhibition (due to open mid-May 2015 and run until May 2016). Read about the co-operative movement’s involvement in a war that shook the world by selecting a name from the column on the left. You can also follow us on social media for regular updates.
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We wish to thank the Heritage Lottery Fund for supporting the ‘From shop floor to front line’ exhibition and project.