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Harley, George

George Henry Harley was the eldest of six children.  His parents George Harley Sr and Mary Ann Williams, were married in Hope Church  on 27th February 1897. Mary was a dressmaker, the only child of Samuel and Ellen Williams of Bramley Lane.  George Sr was the youngest child of a farmer. In 1881 they lived in Blackbrook Cottage in Llwynegrin, Mold (close to the present day Theatr Clwyd) but by 1891 they were living in Vownog Hill, Penyffordd.

George Jr was born in Kinnerton between July and September 1897, and baptised in Dodleston on 14th November 1897.

The other children were:

  • Samuel Crompton Harley 1899 – 1975
  •  Eleanor Elizabeth Harley 1902 – 1964
  • William Harley 1906 – 1989
  • Sydney Harley 1908 – 1995
  • Doris Harley 1913 – 1979

In 1901 the census shows George (a railway plate-layer) and Mary living with George Jr and Samuel in Stryt Issa.

In 1911 the census showed George Sr and Mary Ann living in a 2 room property in Bramley Lane, Kinnerton with their 3 youngest children – Eleanor, William and Sydney.  George Jr and Samuel were living with their maternal grandparents, Samuel and Ellen Williams, in a 4 room property also in  Bramley Lane. Samuel Williams was a railway plate-layer.

George’s mother Mary Ann died in 1913. Her death was registered in the same quarter as Doris’s birth so it seems likely that she died as a result of the birth,

George Henry Harley was a driver in the 95th Brigade of the Royal Field Artillery.  There appear to be no surviving records of where and when George enlisted.  However, his record card in Flintshire Record Office, which was completed and signed by his father, states that he served in the army for 10 months, which implies that he enlisted or was conscripted, around December 1916.  The Forces War Records site states that he resided in “Chelsea, SW”.  Could this mean that George was living and working in London prior to enlisting?  For more information on the royal Field Artillery see  http://www.forces-war-records.co.uk/viewrecord/1236306/?reference=arrowLinks

The lack of records means that we cannot know where he served or for how long, but judging by the location of the cemetery (The Huts Cemetery)  in which he is buried it would appear that George Harley died at the battle of Passchendaele.  The cemetery was in the rear areas behind the British Front Line until April 1918 when the German spring offensive advanced close to the east of Dickebusch village. The cemetery was used between July and November 1917 during the British summer offensive that was the Third Battle of Ypres (Battle of Passchendaele). The field ambulance units were based in the vicinity and there was a row of huts along the Dickebusch-Brandhoek road used by the medical units from this time. The row of nearby huts was the reason that the cemetery became known as “The Huts”. There are 1,094 burials in the cemetery, all of whom are identified. Many of the casualties are gunners from the artillery positions located in the vicinity.  (downloaded from http://www.greatwar.co.uk/places/ypres-salient-cemeteries.htm )

Memorial plaque at Lochnagar Crater

George Harley’s grave on the 100th anniversary of his death.

Many thanks to George’s nephew, and great nephew Martin Harly, for these pictures.

Victory Medal:
George Harley was entitled to the Victory medal, also called the Inter Allied Victory Medal. This medal was awarded to all who received the 1914 Star or 1914-15 Star and, with certain exceptions, to those who received the British War Medal. It was never awarded alone. These three medals were sometimes irreverently referred to as Pip, Squeak and Wilfred.

Eligibility for this award consisted of having been mobilised, fighting, having served in any of the theatres of operations, or at sea, between midnight 4th/5th August, 1914, and midnight, 11th/12th November, 1918. Women who served in any of the various military organisations in a theatre ofoperations were also eligible.  

Victory Medal

Victory War Medal

British War Medal:
George Harley was entitled to the British War Medal for service in World War One. This British Empire campaign medal was issued for services between 5th August 1914 and 11th November 1918.

The medal was automatically awarded in the event of death on active service before the completion of this period.

British War Medal

British War Medal

George Sr, who was still living in Bramley Lane, married again on 10th September 1917 in Hope Church – just a month before George Jr died at Passchendaele.  His bride was Martha Ithell a 38 year old spinster who  came from a family of market gardeners in The Dale, a short distance from Bramley Lane.  In 1901 she had been a servant at Crompton Hall in Higher Kinnerton in 1901.  In 1911 she had been a domestic servant in Helsby for Sydney Goffin, who was a civil servant with the War Office’s Local Audit Staff.

George Sr and Martha had one child (another George) born at the end of 1918.  Sadly his birth, his death and the death of his mother are all recorded in the same quarter.  Martha’s youngest brother Thomas had died in the war at about the same time – on 22 October 1918.

George’s family history can be viewed at http://person.ancestry.co.uk/tree/70118846/person/42213185361/facts

He is also commemorated on the Kinnerton and Caergwrle memorials.

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