Harry lived at 3 Ford Hill, Queensbury with his wife Lucy who he had married on 15th April 1895, they did not have any children. By trade he was a quarryman working at Ford Hill Quarry.
On 8th April 1915 Harry enlisted, joining the West Riding Regiment, his stated age was 37 and his papers show that he had had previous service in the Royal Field Artillery. Mobilized on 8th June 1915 he was transferred several times whilst serving around the North of England and racked up a few charges for lateness and other minor offences, at some point he was transferred into the West Yorkshire Regiment.
Harry was placed onto the Army Reserve, Class W, to continue working at Ford Hill quarry on 24th June 1916, as this work was classed as vital to the war effort. It seems that he was not happy with this and a new set of service records show Harry Birkett a quarryman of Ford Hill, aged 49 (his true age) enlisting on 20th February 1917 into the Royal Engineers (RE).
Mobilized on 9th March 1917, Harry joined 323 Quarrying Company RE, he transferred to 324 Company and was soon serving in France.
Unfortunately, leaving the Army Reserve list and enlisting again caused some confusion and several statements and letters are included in his new service records as the Army tried to establish if Harry was guilty of fraudulent enlistment and if Sapper H Birkett 60324 Royal Engineers was the same person as Private H Birkett 30955 West Yorkshire Regiment. The case was closed on 18th February 1918 with Harry found not guilty of any offence and the Royal Engineers getting to keep their man.
Harry was discharged having gone before a medical board on 29th July 1918 and it was noted that he was to return to light duties with his former employer. On 15th January 1920 Harry died of heart disease, his widow Lucy was awarded a military pension. It is not known where Harry was laid to rest.