Henry Lightfoot Hetherington was born 24 November 1893, the second son and third child of John Thomas Hetherington and Jane Ann Hetherington (née Lightfoot). The family lived in the village of Byers Green, Co. Durham where they remained for many years.
There is little information about Henry’s childhood. His father worked his way up at the colliery from heaver, to miner, and eventually to weighman. At the age of seventeen, in 1911, Henry was working as a pupil teacher in a County Council school. He was then still living at home with his parents and five siblings in Wilkinson Street, Byers Green. In 1913, aged 20, Henry entered Bede College to gain his formal teaching qualifications: here he passed his first year exams, but joined up prior to completing second year.
In 1915 Henry joined the 2/5th Lincolnshire Regiment. On 16 April 1916 the 2/5th Lincolns as part of the 59th Midland division were given orders to ‘stand to’ for immediate move. They were sent to Ireland not France, the unit was poorly trained and no further training would be given prior to action in France. In Dublin the 2/5th Lincolns formed part of the cordon to contain Eamon De Valera’s men in the Northumberland Road area near the canal on 28th/29th April 1916, near the end of the Easter Uprising. The regiment occupied the College of Surgeons from the surrender on 29 April to May 27. It was Captain E.J. Hitzen of the 2/5th Lincolns took the surrender of Eamon De Valera at Boland’s Mill.
The 2/5th Lincolns then moved to the front in France and to the Somme. During the Battle of Arras a regimental history of the conflict reports that the battalion occupied a captured German trench on 9 April, and prompted by reports of a general German retreat to the Hinderberg Line was ordered to push forward. Poor patrol intelligence about enemy strong points at a quarry and farm resulted in a very costly advance on positions that had mistakenly been identified as abandoned: there were 259 casualties. The Bede magazine reported in its August issue “H.L. Hetherington was found to be missing after an attack on Wednesday in Easter week. At first it was hoped that he had been taken prisoner, but subsequently his body was found by another Battalion, and buried in a little village cemetery”. This news was relayed to The Bede by two of his contemporaries at the college, Sergeant J.R. Hine and Lance Corporal J.H. King, both of whom had been transferred from the Durham Light Infantry to the Lincolns. Henry was buried in Ste Emilie Valley Cemetery. Corporal Henry Hetherington is remembered on war memorials at Byers Green, Newfield, and on the Bede College 1914-1918 Cross, Plaque, and Roll of Honour. In August 2014 his home village of Byers Green held an exhibition displaying Hetherington’s death medal or Dead Man’s Penny, a commemorative bronze medal presented to his widow.