David Harris - Navy Career

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 exceptionally 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 Mine-sweeping Flotilla and how it was 50 years before my dad’s service to his country was recognised.


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

Extract from the Middleton Guardian dated 14th October 1944


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 did not 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.




54 years Late

War Veterans collect their medal - 54 years late!

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

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 mine-sweeping flotilla.  He was a member of the Oswestry branch of the Royal British Legion and received a full British Legion Funeral.