George Edwin Harmes was born circa 1921, the son of George Edwin Harmes who had married Alice Peters at St. Mary & St. Helen’s Church, in Neston, Cheshire in the March quarter of 1921, (Cheshire West CE37/3/180). I believe they were to have at least 2 other children, Joseph Henry and Molly.
His father George Edwin Harmes Senior was born on the 22nd May 1898 and was Baptised on the 22nd June 1898 at All Saint’s Church, Moxley, in the County of Stafford. His parents Henry (Harry) Thomas & Lucy Harmes (nee Smith) had been married in the same church on the 22nd February 1896, Harry Thomas was 22, a bachelor and Iron -worker whose father Thomas Harmes was a Fitter. Lucy was 21, a spinster and whose father was George Smith an Iron-worker. Both lived in Moxley. Witnesses were Michael Broughton and Alice Broughton who signed with a X.
The young family are seen on the 1901 census living at 5 in 2 Court, Queen Street, Wednesbury, Staffordshire. Head of the household was Harry T. Harmes, 27, Iron-worker (puddler) born in Smethwick, Staffordshire. Lucy, his wife, 26 had been born in Bilston, Staffordshire. Their children, Florence,4, Harry P., 3, George E, 2 and Tom, 7 months had all been born in Moxley, and there was a Niece, Sarah Broughton, age 10 also born Moxley.
The four children had all been baptised in the same church that their parents had married and one, Harry Philip, must have been poorly when he was born as he had a Private Baptism, then he was “Received into the Church” later on.
By the 1911 census the family had moved to Shotton, living at 35, Brook Road, Harry Thomas Harmes, 37, was still head of the household and he tells us he had been born in Smethwick, Staffordshire. Lucy, now 36 tells us she had been born in Bilston, Staffordshire. They tell us on this census that they had been married 15 years and 11 children had been born and sadly 2 had died. The family had grown, Florence Louisa, 14, Harry Philip, 13, George Edwin, 12, Thomas, 11 and Lucy Amelia, 10 and Edward, 6, had all been born in Moxley, while Alice Selina, 5, Leah,2 and Frank, 1 had been born in Shotton.
I do not know anything about George Edwin Junior’s childhood or teenage years, or his trade when he left school, but he had lots of aunties and uncles to grieve his loss, he was much loved, any help would be appreciated.
George Edwin met and married Elizabeth Rothwell at the Church of the Holy Spirit at Ewloe in the December quarter of 1942. (Flintshire (Mold) C105/01/E21), so would have only been married about 6 months when he was killed.
His parents are seen on the 1939 National Register, which was taken on the 29th September 1939 and George Edwin Junior is not on it, so he could have been already in the Royal Air Force Reserve, perhaps a few years earlier. The family were living at 31 Yowley Road , Hawarden, Flintshire, and George Senior tells us that his birth date was the 29th May 1898 and he was married and an Iron & Steel Worker Heavy Worker. His wife Lucy’s birth date was the 31st January 1901and like most married women, who didn’t have job was described as doing “Unpaid Domestic Duties.” Joseph Henry Harmes, had been born on the 3rd November 1926 and was at school. There were 2 redacted or closed records on the register at that address.
I do not know when he enlisted or was conscripted but he was to find himself in the 466 (R.A.A.F.) Sqdn. Royal Air Force Volunteer Reserve. The 466 was an Australian bomber squadron, please click on – https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/No._466_Squadron_RAAF
Exerpts from No. 466 Squadron RAAF :-
No. 466 Squadron RAAF was a Royal Australian Air Force (RAAF) bomber squadron during World War II. Formed in the United Kingdom in late 1942, the squadron undertook combat operations in Europe until the end of the war, flying heavy bomber aircraft. Following the conclusion of hostilities with Germany, the squadron began retraining to undertake operations in the Pacific against the Japanese, but the war came to an end before it left the UK. In late 1945, the squadron was disbanded.
George Edwin also had a lucky escape during one of his missions, this was found for me by members from the WW2talk Forum, who have been so wonderful helping me with George Edwin’s story and many others, many thanks to them:-
Aircraft accidents in Yorkshire. – http://www.yorkshire-aircraft.co.uk/aircraft/yorkshire/york43/he269.html
On the night of 28th/29th March 1943 the crew of this aircraft were tasked with Ops to St.Nazaire and left Leconfield at 18.43hrs. The crew dropped their bombs from 14,500 feet at 22.09hrs over the target area but the rear turret was damaged by flak with the perspex found broken. The crew landed safely at base at 02.12hrs
Air Gunner – Sgt George Edwin Harmes RAFVR (1547702), of Ewloe, Flintshire.
So just a few months later he was to take off on another mission and this time he was fated not to return:-
Sgt George Harmes was reported as missing on 17th May 1943* on a mine laying flight in Wellington HE386, no trace was ever found of the aircraft or its crew. He was twenty one years old and is commemorated on the Runnymede Memorial.
I purchased and downloaded the Operational Records of 466 Squadron for May 1943 and found the entry for George’s flight on the 16th/17th May 1943* where it tells us that he took off at 21.59. – This aircraft took off at 21.59 and has been reported missing. I have the PDF of the Operational Records of 466 Squadron for the month of May 1943, but they are too large to be put on the website, so if you would like to see them, please contact the website.
*Also, other crews from 466 Sqn, suffered the same fate, or at least did not return to base, but whether they crashed, survived or bailed out and survived, we probably will never know, and how many ended up in prisoner of war camps?
4th /5th May 1943 – Wellington X HE-530 – 4 Australians out of 5 crew. – This aircraft took off at 22.33 and has been reported missing.
12/13th May 1943 – Wellington X HE-530 (Or HZ-530) – 1 Australian out of 5 crew. – Took off at 23.34 and Aircraft crashed on return at TOWTHORPE FARM, NR. SLEDMERE, and all crew killed.
13/14th May 1943 – Wellington X MS-475 2 Australian out of 5 crew. – This aircraft took off at 23.56 and has been reported missing.
29th/30th May 1943 – Wellington X MS-494 1 Australian out of 5 crew. – This aircraft took off at 22.26 and has been reported missing.
29th/30th May 1943 – Wellington X HE-212 5 crew. – This aircraft took off at 22.23 and has been reported missing.
466 Squadron – Wellington X HE386 HD-Z – Op. Gardening
Took off from Leconfield at 2159 hours and headed for the Jellyfish area. At the time the crew might be expected to be returning to base, monitoring stations picked up faint W/T signals. By 0120 hours an air sea rescue operation was under way, the search eventually extending to an area 70 miles south of the Lizard. No trace of the Wellington or its crew were sighted.
All are commemorated on the Runnymede Memorial.
Sgt. J W. Lawson RAAF +
Sgt. R D. Carne RAAF +
Sgt. R L. Robertson RAAF +
Sgt. D C. Robertson
Sgt. G E. Harmes
+ Australian, I believe that George Edwin and D.C. Robinson who were British, and were seconded to the Australian Royal Air Force.
George Edwin’s sister Molly was to marry in the Church of the Holy Spirit in Ewloe in 1954 to Lionel P. Dean.( Flintshire (Mold) C105/02/E27), the year before her father died, so with Jospeh Henry, both his parents were alive to bear the grief of his loss.
George Edwin died on the 10th March 1955, aged 56 and his probate give details. (Hawarden Vol.8a Page 611):-
HARMES, George Edwin of 31, Yowley Road, Ewloe, Flintshire died 10th March 1955. Probate Chester 23rd March to Lionel Patrick DEAN, Aircraft Fitter.
His mother Alice was to die 9 years later on the 24th November 1964, again bearing more grief because of the loss of her husband. (Chester Vol. 10A Page 223). Her Probate :- HARMES, Alice of 31, Yowley Road, Ewloe, Hawarden, Flintshire died 24 November 1964 at Royal Infirmary, Chester. Administration Chester 3 February to Joseph Henry HARMES, Steelworker.
I believe that Elizabeth remarried to Richard O. Williams in the March quarter of 1950, this marriage was registered in Hawarden, and the certificate would have to be purchased to confirm or deny. (Hawarden Vol. 8a Page 889).
I was able to contact George’s family and the family gave me more family lore and memories with these messages below, many thanks to both family members for their input which add to the picture of George.
The first one from the daughter of Joseph Henry Harmes:-
“George joined the RAF at the outbreak of war rather than be conscripted into the Army or Navy. He was the oldest of George and Alicès three children, George, Harry and Molly. They all attended Ewloe Green School and lived in Yowley Road in Ewloe with their parents and Tarzan their dog at the start of the war, having moved there from ‘The Nine Houses’ or ‘Tin Town’ which I believe were on Aston Hill. George could have avoided military service as Steelworking was a reserved Occupation. George and Betty married six months before his final mission but were only together for 2 weeks. Later Betty wrote to George’s best friend Richard Williams to tell him George was missing. Richard was a prisoner of the Japanese at that time and she continued to write to him until his release when they married. George’s family only ever knew that he was missing and his Mother continued to hope that he would turn up as POW camps were liberated, but it was not to be. Harry, desperate to follow his brother joined the Welsh Guards as soon as he was old enough . He never knew the details of his brothers death, we only learned this after the Internet enabled the family to investigate further. Both Harry and Molly were extremely proud of George’s sacrifice and throughout his life Harry placed flowers on the Cenotaph in Hawarden every week.”
jmd104 (Ancestry) – Sep 21, 2019
Hi Mavis, George was my great uncle, his brother Joseph Henry was my grandfather. I’m afraid he died when I was quite young so I have no memories of him talking about George. My mum does say that my grandad was so upset when George’s plane was lost over the channel returning from a bombing raid that he was desperate to join up and shoot some Germans in revenge. However, he was too young and was employed in a reserved occupation in the steel works. He met my grandmother in the steelworks canteen on VE Day, everyone went to the canteen to listen to the announcement. By that point my grandfather had been able to join the army and was just waiting to start his training. So, in the end he never got to shoot the Germans to avenge his brother but was instead sent to Palestine, where he was serving at the time of the King David’s Hotel bombing. He later served in Berlin at Spandau. George Edwin is also memorialised in the bomber command book held in York Cathedral, we were able to view his entry in the book two years ago. He also left behind a sister called Molly who I recall running a pub near Connahs Quay when I was younger. I hope that helps. Kind Regards
He was well loved by his family as you can see, and they put his name forward to be remembered on the Hawarden War Memorial for perpetuity.