Extract from the Middleton Guardian dated 14th October, 1944

FLOTILLA SWEPT A THOUSAND MINES IN THE MED.

In Van of Invasion of Sicily and Italian Landings

Admiral Sir John Cunningham, Commander-in-Chief, Mediterranean, recently sent his warmest congratulations to the officers and men of 12th Minesweeping Flotilla, for their outstanding work in sweeping one thousand mines in the Mediterranean since arriving on the station in the autumn of 1942.

The Flotilla, which is now commanded by Captain G.N. Rawlings, D.S.O. and Bar, in H.M.S. "Fly", consists also of the Fleet Minesweepers, "Albacore", "Acute", "Cadmus", "Oirce", "Espiegle" and "Mutine".

Convoy of Jobs As Well

The record of service of these ships is remarkable.  They played a prominent part in the Allied occupation of North Africa, in the operations of Tunisia, and in clearing 600 mile long channel through the minefields in the Sicilian narrows and along the African coast.

Their task did not entirely consist of minesweeping; they also undertook considerable periods of convoy, and anti-submarine work.  They were in the van of the invasion of Sicily, and the landings at Salerno and Anzio, carrying out their cold-blooded work with their customary skill and gallantry to clear channels for the assault craft and other vessels.

Under Enemy Attack.

They were frequently under enemy gunfire and air attack both here and while clearing the minefields off the west coast of Italy, where in clearing channels for the merchant vessels and other craft supplying the Army and areas for warships giving the necessary gunfire from the sea, they played an important contributory part in the advance of the Army for the liberation of Rome.

More recently the ships of the 12th Flotilla have been engaged in sweeping other extensive minefields to make safe the usual navigable waters off the west coast of Italy.

My father who was on H.M.S. "Fly" has kept this extract;  Mum and I discovered it when we were going through his papers after he died.  He had also kept his war service records.

My father and several others didn't receive their medals and diplomas for their service until 54 years after the war had ended and probably wouldn't have if it hadn't been for the Oswestry Branch of the British Legion making it happen.

This article was printed in the Oswestry Advertizer and was accompanied with the above photograph.

War veterans collect their medals - 54 years late!

Over 50 years after the end of the war, two local veterans have received their medals and diplomas for their service in Greece in the 1940's.

Ex-Able Seaman David Harris and Ex-Able Seaman Charlie Howells. have received commemorative medals after taking part in Operations in Greece between October 1940 and May 1945.

Charlie Howells served on the destroyer HMS Kimberley with the 14th flotilla during the war.  He is a member of Llanrhaedr Royal British Legion and the Oswestry Branch of The Royal Naval Association.

David Harris was on the minesweeper HMS Fly in the 12th minesweeping flotilla.  He is a member of the Oswestry branch of the Royal British Legion.

 

Children of David and Mary Harris

 

Work in Progress

Mary  c1874

Sarah  c1878

Emily  c1882 married John Williams

Annie  c1887

William c1889

Richard c1890 At this time and looking at the census documents Richard's year of birth is different. However working on his date of death as the 18th January 1926 he was aged 37 and therefore his year of birth would have been 1890.  This means his sibling's birth years are very much and approximation with the exception of Herbert (Bert) who was my grandfather.

This article was taken from the Oswestry Advertizer dated 27th January 1926, page 7, column 6.

"Fatality at St Martins.   A Miner's death".

A sad fatality is reported from St. Martins.  While working at the Ifton Heath Colliery on Monday night (18th January).  Richard Harris received injuries by a fall of coal from which he immediately died.  The g

WELCOME TO MY HARRIS FAMILY - my paternal side

WORK IN PROGRESS

My Direct Line

Evan Harris c1787

David Harris c1828 - 31st December 1898

David Harris 8th February 1851 - 15th October 1931

Herbert Harris 4th February 1897 - 1981

Herbert David Harris 24th May 1925 - 24th January 2003

November 2008 and I have finally found more information on David's father my great grandfather x 2.  His name was Evan Harris and born c1787 and therefore my great grandfather x 3.  He appears on the 1841 census living at Pantycrai, Llanwyddelan, Treganol.  The registration district is Newtown and Llanidloes, the sub district Tregynon and the Parish Llanwyddelan.  In 1841 Evan was aged 54 and his occupation was a Farmer.  He was living with his wife Jane (surname unknown at this stage).  Jane born c1788 and aged 53.  Evan and Jane had three children living at home with them Mary c1824, aged 17, David c1826, aged 15 and Evan c1831, aged 10.  Source: 1841 Census Ref: H107. Piece 1440, Folio 17/20, Page 10.

As far as I can tell Evan Harris died at the age of 62 and was buried 17th September 1849 his address given as Brynyciliau, Bettws, Tregynon, Montgomeryshire.  Source: MGS

The part of the family that I grew up hearing most about came from Carreghofa, often addressed on the census forms as Lwyntidman, sometimes as Llanymynech eventually on the latter census forms as settled in Pant, Nr. Oswestry Shropshire.  Apart from the 1841 census, for Wales David Harris my great grandfather x 2 born, c1828 appeared on the 1851, 1861, 1871, 1881 and 1891 census for England.

From census records I learned that David Harris was born in Meifod, Montgomeryshire born about 1828.   He appears on the 1841 census with very little information other than he is living at home with his parents and does not appear to have an occupation.  One of the difficulties I found researching David is that on virtually all the census forms his year of birth differs.

He married Sarah Humphreys on 5th September 1951 at the Parish Church, Oswestry by Banns.  Both David and Sarah were of full age, his occupation a Labourer.  Residence for both at the time of their marriage was Pant.  Their father's names listed at Evan Harris, Labourer and Joseph Humphreys, Labourer.  Witnesses were David Edwards and Elizabeth Edwards.  Source:  Copy of Marriage Certificate

Interestingly on David's Marriage Certificate Evan is described as a labourer whilst on the 1841 census he is described as a Farmer.  The question I ask myself why did Evan's occupation change so dramatically?  The information on the marriage certificate is sketchy because if I have Evan's correct date of death then he should also have been described as deceased on the marriage certificate of his son. 

David's story starts properly with the 1861 census for England.  The families address shown as Farm, Llanymynech, Shropshire.  As head of the family aged 35, David's occupation listed as Rockman living in the parish of Llanymynech, Shropshire.  At this time as far as I can tell there were 45 Rockmen in this area.  His wife Sarah aged 37, had given birth to three children, David born 8th February, 1851, at Welsh Town (Welshpool), aged 9, Mary born about 1854, aged 7 and Catherine born about 1856, aged 5.  Sarah, Mary and Catherine where all born at Lwyntidman.  David and Mary were both shown on the census as scholars.  Of interest is that the wives of the Rockmen often listed as 'Rock Wife', which raises the question, did the wives also work in the quarries?  Or was that simply how they where known?  Source R.G. 9/1875 page 13

The 1871 census for England lists both David and his son David working as Rockmen and living at home.  The address given is Upper House, Llwyntidman, Shropshire.  There were 33 Rockmen listed in this census for this area.  Sarah had given birth to another two children Richard born about 1862, aged 7 and Elizabeth born about 1865, aged six.  Richard listed as a scholar.  Source R.G. 10/2778, Folio 62, page 16.

On the 1881 census David is aged 51, Sarah aged 55 and their son Richard aged 19.  Both David and Richard were working as Labourers; however, the census does not indicate where they were working.  By this time the number of Rockmen recorded in this census were down to 21. Also living with them was their grandson David Harris born about 1875 and aged 5 at this time.  Source RG11/2655

1891 census lists David as a General Labourer living at Rock Hall, High Pant, Llanymynech, Pant, Shropshire.  The registration district is Oswestry, the sub district Knockin and the parish Llanymynech.  His wife Sarah is 66 and they have their grandson David Williams aged 14, occupation General Labourer, living with them.  David Williams born Cefn Denbighshire, born c1877.  Source RG12/2114, Folio 42, Page 4

David died at The High Pant on 31st December 1898 aged 72.  I do not have his burial details at this time.  GRO ref: Vol 6a, page 425.

I believe that there is a family Bible in existence but I have never seen it apparently one of the main features of the bible is that all the family were able to write their own signatures.  As we have already seen, the children all went to school. 

DAVID HARRIS, VRONGOCH, CARREGHOFA

David was born 8th February 1852 his place of birth given as Welshtown in the sub district of Welchpool.  Note here how Welshpool was spelt in 1852.  Also of interest is the fact that Welshpool used to be called 'Pool' and was changed to Welshpool because of Poole in Dorset. On the birth certificate, his father's name David Harris and his mother's name Sarah Harris (nee Humphreys) where shown.  Father's occupation listed as Labourer.  Sarah registered her son's birth on the 2nd March 1852 by her mark.    David was baptised on the 6th June 1852 at Welshpool (no details of chapel/church) his father David was described at a Labourer of Welsh Town.  So the birth certificate and baptism records show the same information.

Records found from 1861 - 1901.  David was aged nine in 1861 and lived at home with his parents and two Sisters Mary and Catherine.  Details already supplied above.

At the age of 19 in 1871, David was still living at home with his parents.  Both he and his father worked as Rockmen and he had a younger brother Richard and younger sister Elizabeth.  Details already supplied above.  Source: RG10/2778 page 16

David married Mary Thomas on the 1st February 1876 he was aged 23 and a bachelor and this was seven days before his 24th birthday.  His occupation listed as a Labourer and his residence shown as Treflach.  Mary Thomas was aged 22 an unmarried woman and her occupation Servant.  Mary lived at Treflach at the time of her marriage.  Her father William Thomas was also a Labourer.

Information from the 1881 census shows David living with his wife Mary at Vrongoch.  David was aged 29 and wife Mary aged 26.  At this time, they had two children Mary J Harris born about 1874 aged 7.  As you can see Mary was born two years before her mum and dad married.  Their second daughter Sarah E Harris born about 1878 and on the 1881 census aged 3.  David's occupation then a Rockman and he and his family were English speaking.  Also living with them was Jane Thomas born about 1809 aged 72, his mother-in-law occupation Farmer Labourer, Treflach.  Source:  Rg11/5497 page 12

On the 1891 census form, David aged 39 and wife Mary aged 36 had four children living with them.  Emily born c1882 aged 9, Richard born c1883 aged 8, Annie born about 1887 aged 4 and Agnes aged 5 months.  Mary and Sarah it would appear had left home and at this point I have no further information.  Source:  RG12/4600 pages11/12

The 1901 census shows David and Mary living at Penyfoel and David's occupation listed as Lime Kiln Operator.  The children living with them at the time were William c1889 aged 12, Eliza c1893 aged 8, George c 1895 aged 6, and Herbert born 4th February 1897 at Penyfoel.  His mother registered Herbert's birth on 9th March 1897.  Herbert was my grandfather and known to the family as Bert.  Source:  RG13/5204

This photograph of David and Mary Harris with my grandfather Bert

Mary died 17th November 1915 aged 61.  She is buried at the Parish Church of St Agatha, Llanymynech and has a Granite headstone which reads 'In loving memory of Mary HARRIS, Penyvoel.' David died 15th October 1931 aged 79 and is buried with his wife, his Inscription reads 'At Rest.'

Obituary of David Harris printed in the Oswestry Advertizer 21st October 1931

The Late Mr. David Harris of Penyvoel

A large assembly of neighbours and acquaintances gather together at Penyvoel, Llanymynech, on Monday, to pay their last tribute respect to the late Mr. David Harris, who passed away on Thursday.  His wife predeceased him fifteen years ago.  Deceased was a native of Pant, and after his marriage resided in Penyvoel for several years.  He was quarryman, and had worked at Llanymynech, Porthywaen, and Llanddu quarries all his life, and his honest, straightforward, and kindly manner made him popular in the village and with his fellow employees.  Except for attacks of rheumatism he was and active man, for his years, and attended the anniversary of the Llanymynech Oddfellows, of which he was a member, in July last.  His declining years were spent in comfort with his daughter Mrs. Bromley.

The funeral took place at Llanymynech Parish Church, but before leaving the house, the Rev. O.S. Symond, pastor of the Presbyterian Church conducted a short service.  At the church, the rector, the Rev. J.P. Poole Hughes officiated, and the Rev. O.S. Symond read the lesson.

The mourners were: Messrs William Harris, George Harris, Herbert Harris (sons):  Mrs. Emily Williams, Mrs. Eliza Bromley (daughters):  Mr. John Williams, Mr. Richard Williams, Mr. John Bromley. Mr. Edward Pryce (sons-in-law):  Mrs. William Harris, Mrs. George Harris, Mrs. A. Williams (daughters-in-law):  Gladys Pryce, Ada Pryce, Florrie Harris (grand-daughter):

The obituary then went on to list a contingent of Oddfellows and members of the general public too many to mention and also included the names of the bearers.  The obituary finished with the following paragraph.

The grave was covered and surrounded with beautiful floral tributes.

Herbert Harris born 4th February 1897 and he worked on the Railways.  He married Margaret Ann Hamer (Maggie) on 25th August 1924.  Their marriage certificate shows that Bert was 27 years old and a bachelor his profession given as Railway Guard.  At the time of his marriage he lived at 75 Green End, Whitchurch, father shown as David Harris, Limestone Quarryman.  Maggie was 24 years old a spinster with no profession shown.  Her address was given as Arundel Road Oswestry, her father William Hamer's profession was Cattle Drover. 

 

The photograph of my Nan Harris

1955

Hamer and Harris family

Back row from left to right Bert Harris and David Hamer

Front row from left to right my Mum, my Gran Harris, Auntie Gladys and Auntie Connie, me and my sister.

 

HERBERT DAVID HARRIS

My dad was born at Whitchurch in Shropshire and known to his family as David or the Welsh side of the family as Dai.

When my dad died his war records came as something of a surprise for me and my mum.  My dad had always given us the impression that his Navy days were great fun and that he was rather naughty.  However, from 1943 - 1946 his character was assessed as very good on his Certificate of Service.  His mother was listed as his next of kin and the address given at that time was 43 Victoria Street, Oswestry.  He entered the navy on the 11th October 1943 an entered under NS (AF) Act 1939 and served on the following ships.  Glendower 11/10/1943 - 20/12/1943

Drake 21/12/1943 - 11/02/1944

Cabbala 12/02/1944 - 26/08/1944

Drake 27/08/1944 - 25/09/1944

St Angllo (Fly) 26/09/1944 - 05/03/1946

Drake 06/03/1946 - 30/04/1946

On the 30th April 1946 he was given indefinite release as Station Porter in class 'B' in accord with A.F.O. 1355/46.  Source:  S. 459. Certificate of Service

See also right hand column with extract on 12th Minesweeping Flotilla and how it was 50 years before my dad's service to his country was recognised.

 

WORK IN PROGRESS

See bottom right hand column for details of David and Mary's children.

This page last updated 6th November 2008

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