Name of Researcher / Enw’r ymchwylydd: Mavis Williams
Name / Enw: Harvey, John
Regiment/Catrawd: 7th Bn South Staffordshire Regiment
Service Rank and Number / Rheng gwasanaeth a rhif: Private 9899
Military Cemetery/Memorial / Fynwent milwrol: Boulogne Eastern Cemetery
Country of Cemetery or Memorial / Gwlad y fynwent neu gofeb: France
Medals Awarded / Medalau a ddyfarnwyd: British War & Victory Medals and 15 star
Date of Death: 6th October 1916
Date and Circumstances of Death / Dyddiad ac amgylchiadau marwolaeth:
Died of Wounds 6th October 1916
I found this soldier whilst looking through the Commonwealth War Graves Commission website for any Connah’s Quay or Shotton men who had died and had been missed off the Memorial.
The Additional Information was: Son of Emma Evans, (formerly Harvey), of 10, Albert Place, Connah’s Quay, Flintshire.
John Harvey in the British Army WWI Medal Rolls Index Cards, 1914-1920 tells us that his first Theatre of War was the Balkans and he entered it on the 21st July 1915, so must have been posted to France after this.
John Harvey in the UK, Soldiers Died in the Great War, 1914-1919 confirms his regimental details above and tells us that he was born in Wolverhampton, he resided in Connah’s Quay, but enlisted in Wolverhampton, perhaps to get into his County’s Regiment?
John Harvey in the UK, Army Registers of Soldiers’ Effects, 1901-1929 tells us that the sole Legatee was his mother Mrs. Emma Evans who was paid £9. 14s 7d on the 2nd April 1917 and his War Gratuity of £9 on the 10th October 1919.
County Herald Friday 10th November 1916 R.W.F. Casualties South Staffordshire Regt. Died of Wounds:- HARVEY, 9899, J. (Connah’s Quay)
Since adding John to the list of forgotten soldiers to the website, Paul Roberts, a descendent of John’s sister Alice, contacted the website and I visited them to find that they had the New Testament 1916 that was given to the soldiers, this book had been put away in a tin for many years until Paul took an interest in his family history, but his Grandmother Doreen had never known about her mother’s only brother John and his name had never been mentioned and indeed he was forgotten until the New Testament was found. John had written in the book (see below), leaving the date of his eventual release from the army free to be entered when he left, but sadly he was to lose his life, so the space is blank.
John Harvey’s sister Alice Harvey came to Connah’s Quay circa 1914 when she was about 16/17 years old and worked for a little while at the Quay House. She settled here and married in St, Mark’s Church and had her family including Doreen, who still lives in Connah’s Quay. Indeed her 3 sisters, Lottie, Elizabeth and Kate also came here and married, Charlotte (Lottie) in St. Mark’s Church and Kate & Elizabeth (Lizzie) in St. Ethelwold’s Church, Shotton.
There is a twist to the story as well, as Kate May Harvey married Alan Darbey who lived in 36, Butler Street, Shotton and who’s brother Albert Curwen Darbey was also killed and is listed on the Connah’s Quay & Shotton War Memorial. (Please see read his story) By coincidence my Great Grandson has lived there for a while.
I would like to thank Paul and his family for letting us have photo’s of the book and for telling us his story, I am so glad that I trawled the Commonwealth War Graves Commission website with just the words “Connah’ Quay” as he may never have been found.
I do suspect, although, don’t know, that he may have come to the area after the 1911 census with his mother Emma Evans (nee Harvey) and as there is no age given on any Army documents that I have found, I can only guess, plus sadly I cannot find his Attestation Papers. Alice may have been the first of the family to venture here from Wolverhampton, or she may have come to join John.
I searched the War Diaries for the 7th South Staffordshire Regt., and the days before the 6th October were spent moving to MAISON ROLLAND. It seems that they were just moving and in no conflict, so I suspect he was wounded in an earlier battle.
I asked the Great War Forum on http://1914-1918.invisionzone.com/forums/index.php?showtopic=240086#entry2410541 and
Mike replied:-Posted Today 12th June 2016 , 08:52 am – 9899 7th Bn S Staffs John Harvey’s name appears on a casualty list in the Birmingham Daily Post dated 20/9/1915. This may be a previous wound, though I don’t see him mentioned again, so far.
John Harley replied :-Posted Today, 12th June 2016 10:27 am
It will be safe to assume that his injuries were received not too long before he died. The burial at Boulogne is the best evidence. If I had to guess, I’d suggest that he was probably wounded sometime in the month before death, but probably not in the couple of days or so before he died. A look through the war diary for that period should narrow down the possible days – particularly if the diarist is good at recording days when men were wounded.
Many thanks again to Paul Roberts and his family especially Doreen Roberts (nee Jones), his Grandmother, without whose help John’s story may have been lost forever.
Paul recently went on a pilgrimage to his Great Great Uncle’s grave at Boulogne and sent me this message:-
Hi Mavis, Hope all is good with you. I was wondering if you could do me a favour and add the attached photo of John Harvey’s grave to his page on Flint War Memorials, please? Would you mind adding the following text that I wrote up at the graveside when I visited on 6th October last year as well? Many thanks, Paul.
‘In Memoriam: Private John Harvey, 9899, A Company, 7th Battalion, South Staffordshire Regiment, 33rd Brigade, 11th Division, British Expeditionary Force.
In January 2016 we found a forgotten member of the family who was lost during the First World War. Today, on the centenary of his death, I am at his grave at Boulogne Eastern Cemetery, where he lies with over 5,500 fallen soldiers of the Great War. It is a truly humbling experience to be here and to be able to reunite him with the Bible that he carried through the Somme and was returned to his next of kin following his passing. No one ever spoke of him in the subsequent years, the Bible put away and forgotten about. If we hadn’t looked through the tin it was kept in, we may never have even found him again. He was my grandmother’s uncle, her mother’s brother and my Great-Great-Uncle, and it is with profound respect, honour and the utmost dignity to be here today to commemorate his passing.
May he rest in peace.’
Unusually, the headstones are laid flat in this cemetery. This is due to the sandy soil.