Bernard Harris was born in the December quarter of 1912 (Flintshire (Mold) HAW/15A/84), the son of Francis Edward & Jessie Harris, who had married in on the 5th August 1907 in Llangyfelach, Glamorganshire. Jessie’s maiden name was Jessie Ponsford Cadogan (1882–1918), (Thanks to stephenleason50 – Ancestry).
Their marriage on the 5th August 1907 in the Parish Church at Llangfelach tells us that Francis Edward Harris, 25, Bachelor, Mill-man, Brooklea Villas, Mancott, Hawarden, his father was Edward Harris, an Engine-Driver & Jessie Cadogan, 24, spinster, Clyndu, Morrison, her father, George Cadogan, was deceased and had been a Carpenter.
The 1911 census tells us that Francis Edward, 29, & Jessie, 28, both born Llangafelach, Glamorganshire, had been married for 3 years and 2 children had been born, both still living, also they were living at New Road, Queensferry. Their children were Leonard, 2 and Ethel, 1, both born in Hawarden. Francis Edward Harris was working in the Furnacing in Welsh Mills (Galvanized Sheet Works), probably John Summers & Sons, Hawarden Bridge Steel Works.
Sadly Jessie Ponsford Harris was to die in 1918 (Flintshire (Mold) HAW/11A/58) and Francis Edward Harris was to marry again, to Annie Munslow in a Civil Ceremony in 1920 at Hawarden. (Flintshire (Mold) HAW/06/91). So Bernard was 6 years old when his mother died and 8 years old when his father remarried. Bernard is not on the 1939 Register, as I believe that Bernard is already in the Forces. Francis Edward is shown as widowed, and I believe that Annie, his wife may have died in 1939 (Flintshire (Mold) HAW/25A/68), the certificate would have to be purchased to confirm or deny. Also in the household was Jonathan R. Harris, born on the 25th January 1918, was single and working in the Steel Sheet Mills doing Heavy Work. Gaynor J. Harris, had been born on the 19th December 1924, was single and was doing “Unpaid Domestic Duties,” which was the description added to married women who did not have jobs, so perhaps Gaynor was taking over from Annie looking after the home and family. I believe that Gaynor was to eventually marry Vincent H. Rickard in the December quarter of 1963 at Hawarden. (Hawarden Vol. 8A Page 889). There was one closed record, so I don’t know who that was.
I do not know anything about his early life and teenage years so any help would be appreciated. He met Doreen Munslow at some point and then in 1940 Bernard married her in St Ethelwold’s Church, Shotton:-
Page 68 No 136 5th October 1940 Bernard HARRIS, 27, Bachelor, Private in Army, 8, Glynn St., Queensferry Francis Edward HARRIS, Steel Worker & Doreen MUNSLOW, 20, Spinster, 9, Kin Royd (sic), Wepre Drive, Connah’s Quay, William MUNSLOW, Steelworker. (After Banns)
Witnesses:- Jonathan Rees HARRIS & Annie WILLIAMS.
Bernard’s father Francis Edward married Annie MUNSLOW in 1920, wonder if they are from the same family, although I haven’t found a connection as yet.
The Royal Welsh Enlistment book tell us that Bernard enlisted on the 20th February 1931 as a Regular and this source gives his birthday as Christmas Day 1912. On this Document it also tells us that he was discharged on the 16th June 1938 to the Territorial Army Reserve, but also is the note that he was Killed in Action on the 5th May 1944. There are 4 Casualty Lists where Bernard is listed, amongst dozens of men’s names from the RWF’s who are reported ” Missing,” (Date not reported)
Next one –“ Not Missing, “ then “Previously reported Wounded 23rd April 1944, now reported Wounded and Missing.” Culminating in the last Casualty List stating the “Previously reported Missing 5th May 1944, now reported Killed in Action, “ (5.5.44).
Below – Taken from The Commonwealth War Graves Commission Website describing the graveyard and the history of what happened, with also perhaps one of the most iconic passages from WW2 – The Kohima Epitaph:-
The Japanese advance into India was halted at Kohima in April 1944 and Garrison Hill, a long wooded spur on a high ridge west of the village, was the scene of perhaps the most bitter fighting of the whole Burma campaign when a small Commonwealth force held out against repeated attacks by a Japanese Division. The fiercest hand to hand fighting took place in the garden of the Deputy Commissioner’s bungalow, around the tennis court, but the heaviest casualties on both sides occurred after relieving forces reached the Garrison and the Japanese were driven off the ridge, so re-opening the road to Imphal. KOHIMA WAR CEMETERY lies on the battle ground of Garrison Hill. No trace remains of the bungalow, which was destroyed in the fighting, but white concrete lines mark and preserve permanently the historic tennis court. The cemetery now contains 1,420 Commonwealth burials of the Second World War and 1 non-war burial. At the highest point in the cemetery stands the KOHIMA CREMATION MEMORIAL commemorating 917 Hindu and Sikh soldiers whose remains were cremated in accordance with their faith. At the lower end of the cemetery, near the entrance, is a memorial to the 2nd Division. It bears the inscription;- “When you go home Tell them of us and say, For your tomorrow, We gave our today.” The cemetery also contains a
memorial to the 2nd Battalion, the Dorsetshire Regiment and a number of other regimental memorials have been erected on and near Garrison Hill. The cemetery was designed by Colin St. Claire Oakes.
Francis Edward Harris, Bernard’s father, was to survive till 1961, so he had to bear the burden of the loss of his son.
Probate – HARRIS, Francis Edward of Bryn Gwanwyn (Owanwyn?), 5, Wood Lane, Hawarden, Flintshire, died 6th August 1961. Probate Chester 10th October to Gaynor Jane HARRIS, Spinster.
Bernard was well loved and his name was put forward by his family to be added to the War Memorial to be remembered of ever.
Bernard is also remembered on the Hawarden WW2 War Memorial.