Rededication Service for Lieutenant Harry Noel Leslie Renton - Wijtschate - 15/09/2022
A rededication service for Lieutenant Harry Noel Leslie Renton was held at Oosttaverne Wood Cemetery, Belgium at 14.30am (local time) on 15th September 2022.

Lieutenant Harry Noel Leslie Renton was born in Colombo, Ceylon, on 18 December 1894. He was one of the three sons born to James and Louisa Renton of Aspley Guise in Bedfordshire. He was educated at The Knoll, Woburn Sands and Harrow. Whilst at Harrow he was a monitor, head of his house and in the Upper VI. As a keen sportsman, he was house cricket and football captain and was the wicketkeeper of the school's cricket eleven in 1914.

After leaving Harrow, he was due to take up a place at Magdalen College, Oxford, but instead took a Commission on the outbreak of the war. On 23 September 1914 he was Gazetted as a Second Lieutenant with 9th Battalion The King's Royal Rifle Corps. He was promoted to Lieutenant on 13 February 1915. He embarked for France on 20 May that year.

On 30 July 1915, the day of Lieutenant Renton's death, 9th Battalion The King's Royal Rifle Corps took part in an attack at Hooge. After a preliminary bombardement, B and C Companies took trench G10, north of the Menin Road. 3 Platoons of C Company, including Lieutenant Renton, then charged towards Old Bond Street Trench, but were almost wiped out by machine gun fire.

Major Hennessy of the same battalion wrote of Lieutenant Renton: "He was a real soldier through and through, absolutely fearless, painstaking, trustworthy, and his men loved him. He was my right hand in everything, and however difficult the task set him I could always be absolutely sure he would see it through alright."

His Captain wrote: "All through the day Noel behaved with the greatest coolness, and I do not know what we should have done without him, as there were only three of us. He never paid the slightest attention to danger, and he was tremendously pleased, when I ordered the charge. Not only his own Platoon, but the whole Company were devoted to him and would have followed him anywhere, as they did ... He died as well as a man could."

Lieutenant Renton's body was recovered, and he was buried at the side of the Menin Road with three riflemen. After the First World War his remains were moved to Oosttaverne Wood Cemetery, where he was buried as an unkown Lieutenant of the King's Royal Rifle Corps. He was commemorated on the Menin Gate. New research has shown that Lieutenant Renton is in fact the unknown Lieutenant in this grave. His grave was rededicated on 15 September 2022.

The 'Oosttaverne Line' German positions were captured on the first day of the Battle of Messines in June 1917 and two cemeteries were made on the site. After the Armistice the cemeteries were enlarged and became Oosttaverne Wood Cemetery. Amongst the graves brought into the cemetery from the surrounding battlefields were those of The King's Royal Rifle Corps casualties from the action at Hooge in 1915, including Lieutenant Harry Noel Leslie Renton.

The service was conducted by The Reverend Martin Pritchard CF, Chaplain to 4th Battalion The Duke of Lancaster's Regiment.

Members of the Renton family participated in the service.

The Last Post played by Lance Corporal Stephen Elliott 8th Battalion The Rifles

The Reveille

Wreath laying by the military and civilian authorites and members of the Renton family.

The Collect of the King's Royal Rifle Corps read by Major Andrew Holsgrove.

Apparently, in letters to his mother, Lieutenant Renton kept asking for Porto to be sent. He also shared that with his comrades in arms. That is why the family poured a bottle on him and his comrades after the ceremony.

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