Halifax or Lancaster?

Yesterday was the anniversary of the death of Sgt W. E. L. HARRISON.

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William was in the RAFVR when he was killed. One online source has a photograph of him (giving his second name as Edward) and states in part:-

…the unit was equipped with Halifax bombers, one of the mainstay bombers within the R.A.F. at the time.

Unfortunately, during one particular training flight Billy’s Halifax was seen to lose control and the bomber crashed.  Harrison died of the wounds he received in the crash and his body was interred in St. Oswald’s cemetery just over a week later.

Another source offers “Edmund” rather than Edward but, more importantly, says he was the bomb aimer aboard a Lancaster.

Both sources agree on his service number – and his prowess on the football field. He played semi-professionally for Bradford Park Avenue FC. I thought that the CWGC website might offer a definitive casting vote but the information there is sketchy. It reckons Edmund was his middle name, but the St Oswald’s burial register gives Edward. (His birth registration has “William E. L.”).

William isn’t on the FamilySearch Tree but his great-grandmother, Eleanor AUTON, offers a starting point to build upon.

Today’s Image

The official record of the deaths of Port Hunter’s crew gives Geoffrey Bradley’s last address as 16 West Avenue, Filey. (Wednesday’s post.) If the numbering hasn’t changed since the Second World War, the space where this dwelling should be is occupied by Thornton House. With its three gables and sunny appearance, it makes me smile whenever I walk past. It is very clearly a one-off in architectural terms, and may well be the fanciful creation of a capable small town builder.

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERASamuel Bradley was such a man. He appears in a number of newspaper court reports seeking restitution for non-payment, mostly for minor debts relating to materials used, but one customer defaulted on a house that Samuel built in Lincolnshire.

The birth of his first son with Harriet Smith was registered in that county and Geoffrey’s, three years later, in Scarborough. Perhaps Thornton House (at left in the photo) was a fresh-start project for his second family.

Geoffrey, Lost at Sea

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BradleyG2There are 13 people born BRADLEY in Filey Genealogy & Connections but none are Samuel, Jack or Geoffrey. The family remembered in Filey churchyard is not yet represented on the FamilySearch Tree. Geoffrey’s name does, however, appear on the War Memorial in Murray Street – and on the Merchant Navy Memorial at Tower Hill in London.

The official record and the family headstone say he died on the 11th July but he lived for about two hours of the twelfth day. Two torpedoes from U-582 struck the SS Port Hunter at 01.47 hours, west-southwest of Madeira. Explosions ripped the vessel apart and she sank in a couple of minutes. Three men who were sleeping on deck were blown into the sea and rescued a few hours later. Sixty-eight crew members, 14 gunners and five passengers were lost “presumed drowned”. (Some would have been killed in the explosions.)

Geoffrey was an apprentice in the Merchant Navy, 17 years old. The master of Port Hunter was John Bentham BRADLEY. I have spent some time gathering Geoffrey’s forebears but, so far, haven’t discovered that they are related.

Geoffrey’s birth was registered in Scarborough but his father was a Lincolnshire lad. His mother, Hannah, was a SMITH and has so far evaded capture. She was Samuel’s second wife. He first married Lusianna ROBINSON in Boston, Lincolnshire, in 1888. I found eight children in Boston born to a Bradley/Robinson couple in the GRO Online Index but the 1911 transcription on Find My Past states they had 7 children in 23 years of marriage, one of whom had died.

Lusianna (various spellings) died in late 1917, aged 50. Samuel married Hannah Elizabeth SMITH in the summer of 1919, in Boston. Jack was born two years later and Geoffrey in the last quarter of 1925.

I have some information for about thirty of Geoffrey’s ancestors. FamilySearch has records for most of them but I have found just three on the World Tree thus far. It’s a start.

Gravelines

German forces kicked off The Battle of France on 10 May 1940. They muscled their way through the Netherlands and Belgium and on the 20th their forward Panzer units could see the River Somme flowing into the English Channel. Eight days later they had pushed the remnants of the British Expeditionary Force to a small strip of land at Dunkirk.

William BIGGINS, born in Filey in the summer of 1913, was a Lance Corporal with 6th Bn The Green Howards, part of the 23rd Northumbrian Infantry Division under Major General W. N. HERBERT. In the Order of Battle (1940) the Division is listed as a formation “undergoing training and performing labour duties” but, with France falling about their ears, nowhere was safe. William was killed on the 24th.

A kerb inscription in St Oswald’s, recorded by the Crimlisks, revealed that he was killed in action at Gravelines. While Kleist’s 10th Panzers half-circled nearby Calais, Gerd von Rundstedt’s armour attacked Gravelines. I don’t know how many other Allied soldiers lost their lives in this encounter but, towards midnight on the 24th, von Rundstedt asked Kleist to pause the Panzer advance. Hitler gave a “Halt Order” that has long puzzled historians – but it allowed the refuge at Dunkirk to be defended until the armada of small boats arrived.

Without the old kerb source, I may not have discovered William’s whereabouts on his last day. It has been replaced by a new headstone.

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William is buried at Longueness (St Omer) Souvenir Cemetery, about 20 miles south of Gravelines.

His pedigree on FamilySearch Tree isn’t extensive but Filey Genealogy & Connections takes his mother’s line back to the 17th century in Fenland, to Christopher SCOTTOW and Lucretia FISH.

Desert Rat, Desert Fox

Libya

This satellite view of a small square of Libya, where rock and sand meet the Mediterranean Sea, is in the vicinity of El Agheila (Al Uqaylah). After Operation Compass routed the Italians in North Africa, the Allied Forces rested in this area – until Erwin Rommel’s infant Afrika Korps arrived to send them packing on this day 1941.

Cecil SIMPSON was born at Cayton and baptized at St Oswald’s, Filey, on 6th March 1918. He was, therefore, 21 years old when the Second World War began.  I don’t know how soon he joined the army but he was with the 1st Battalion Royal Northumberland Fusiliers when a force commanded by The Desert Fox ended his life.

Cecil is remembered on the Alamein Memorial in Egypt (located about 1,000 kilometers from where he died), on the Gristhorpe Memorial in Filey Parish, and on his parents’ headstone in St Oswald’s churchyard.

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The pedigree of this branch of the Simpsons is not extensive on Filey Genealogy & Connections – and I have struggled today to find forebears on FST to whom he can be readily linked.

 

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WATKINSONr_WW2Motor Launch 201 was one of eight such vessels in the 13th Flotilla of a Royal Navy Coastal Force based at Yarmouth during World War Two. On this day, 1941, one of its crew, Able Seaman, Robert WATKINSON, lost his life. One brief entry online records that he was “killed”. The marble block on the family grave in St Oswald’s churchyard says otherwise. I haven’t been able to determine what actually happened.

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Filey Genealogy & Connections reveals an extensive pedigree, showing Robert’s descent from several of the town’s fishing families. On his father’s side a 3rd great grandfather is George JENKINSON, and on his mother’s George’s brother, Robert JENKINSON – the sons of Robert (1756-1808) and Margaret TRUCKLES.

Robert’s pedigree on FamilySearch Tree is waiting for the scattered fragments to be linked together. I have made a start.

FV ‘Joan Margaret’

It is thought that HMT D. V. Fitzgerald triggered an enemy mine in the River Humber on this day, 1941. The explosion sank the motor fishing boat Joan Margaret, and the herring drifter Gloaming, with the loss of eight lives.

There are two posts about this event on the archived Looking at Filey:-

‘Joan Margaret’

‘Joan Margaret’ Revisited

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‘Joan Margaret’ about 1934, Grimsby New Fish Dock, courtesy Martin Douglas

Wreck Site gives the location of the event, details about the vessels and their crews. Joan Margaret, Gloaming.

Below is a list of those killed with links to their Commonwealth War Graves Commission (CWGC) web pages and, for the Filey men, links to their pedigrees on Filey Genealogy and Connections (FG&C). At the time of writing, only George WILLIS can be found on FamilySearch Tree. (I haven’t looked for the Gloaming men on FST.)

 

Richard HAXBY, CWGC, FG&C

Thomas Edmond PEARSON, CWGC, FG&C

George Robert PEARSON, CWGC, FG&C

John William POWLEY, CWGC, FG&C

George WILLIS, CWGC, FG&C, FST

Charles A. LITTLE, CWGC

William S. REDGRAVE, CWGC

Robert SWANN, CWGC