Henry Cyril Langford was born on the 18th April 1918, according to the Hawarden Grammar School Admissions Register.
He was the son of Walter & Elizabeth Langford (nee Hughes), they had married at St. Emmanuel’s Church, Bistre on the 12th December 1910. Walter was 23, a bachelor and Rail-Driver, his father was Henry Langford, a Mail Contractor. Elizabeth was 35 and a spinster, her father was John Hughes (Deceased) and a Butcher. Their abode was Brunswick Road, Buckley. Their witnesses were Frank Langford and Minnie May Duncalf.
Henry Cyril was baptised on the 2nd June 1918, at St. Emmanuel’s Church, Bistre, the son of Walter & Elizabeth Langford, the address was 18, Brunswick Road and Walter was a Grocer.
There were other baptisms in the same church, of Henry Cyril’s siblings, Alice Elizabeth, born 3rd July 1911, Bapt. 20th August 1911 and Muriel, born 8th August 1914, Bapt. 4th October 1914, daughters of Walter & Elizabeth LANGFORD, living at, 22, Brunswick Road, Bistre, on both baptisms, Walter was a Mail Contractor.
I have no information about Henry’s early and teenage years, so any information would be gratefully received. The first time we see him is on the Hawarden Grammar School Admissions Register E/GS/1/10: –
1318/2092 LANGFORD, Henry Cyril, Date of birth – 18th April, 1918, 18, Brunswick Road, Buckley, Father’s Occupation Grocer,Bistre Cl. Date of entry 18th September 1930, date of leaving – 23rd March, 1935 – Electrical Engineer.
Then we see the family on the 1939 National Register (Taken on the 29th September 1939) when they were living at Brunswick Road , Buckley U.D., Flintshire, Wales. This source tells us that Walter Langford’s birth date was the 23rd April 1887 and he was a Grocer & Provision Dealer, Elizabeth was born on the 4th May 1876 and as most women on this register are described, if they didn’t have a job, was doing “Unpaid House Duties.” Their daughters were Alice E. Langford, born on the 3rd July 1911 and was an Elementary School Teacher and single, and Muriel* who had been born on the 8th August 1914 and was in the Land Army Force and single.
So Henry Cyril must have enlisted, or conscripted as young men over 18 were obliged to do so. – https://www.parliament.uk/about/living-heritage/transformingsociety/private-lives/yourcountry/overview/conscriptionww2/#:~:text=On%20the%20day%20Britain%20declared,had%20to%20register%20for%20service. – Your Country needs you. – On the day Britain declared war on Germany, 3 September 1939, Parliament immediately passed a more wide-reaching measure. The National Service (Armed Forces) Act imposed conscription on all males aged between 18 and 41 who had to register for service.
I was contacted by Rob Langford, Henry’s son who told me that his father Henry first went to Devonport and then was immediately sent to Calcutta to join H.M.S. Cathage. Many thanks to Rob. Langford, see more below.
His destiny was to be posted to H.M.S. “NITH,”(K 215) which was commissioned on the 16th February 1943, thanks to https://uboat.net/allies/warships/ship/105.html
This website tells the story of what happened on the 23rd/24th June 1944 – While in the Normandy area HMS “Nith” (Lt.Cdr. D.E. Mansfield, RD, RNR) was hit by a ‘Mistel’*, a German composite aircraft. Suffered 10 dead and 26 wounded.
*https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Mistel – excerpt from the website – While Mistel pilots claimed hits, none of these match Allied records; they may have been made against the hulk of the old French battleship Courbet, which had been included as a component of the Mulberry harbour at Arromanches and specially dressed up as a decoy by the Allies. Serious blast and shrapnel damage from a near-miss was suffered by HMS Nith, a River-class frigate being used as a floating headquarters, on 24 June. Nine* men were killed and 26 wounded, and Nith was towed back to England for repairs.
*This differs from the previous website.
Henry Cyril was obviously one of the men who died and was buried at sea as stated above.
Please read https://www.bbc.co.uk/history/ww2peopleswar/stories/44/a3240244.shtml which tells the eye witness account of one of Henry Cyril’s shipmates.
H.M.S.”Nith” was involved in the Normandy Landings.
History of H.M.S. “Nith.” – Sold to the Egyptian Navy November 1948 and renamed Domiat.
During the Suez crisis Domiat was sunk on 1 November 1956 by HMS Newfoundland.
www.eurosurf.com/hmsnith. – 31 Oct 1956
Nith, renamed Domiat, was sunk by gunfire from the British cruiser Newfoundland, after a brief exchange of fire. 69 of the crew were rescued. This was the only action at sea in the course of Operation Musketeer, the invasion of Suez. (1)
Taken from “Back to Normandy,” an excerpt from the conversations about H.M.S. “Nith,” many thanks to David Seymour.
David Seymour – about 5 years ago #132
My father William Harold Seymour was on HMS Ninth when the mistel struck the ship. He was a chief petty officer telegraphist / radio man. He was saved because he was delivering a message to the bridge at the time and all the other telegraphists were killed. He never talked much about the war but I knew he was very proud to have served at Normandy in HMS Nith.
Henry Cyril had met and married Eileen Peach in 1942 at the All Saints Church, Hoole (Cheshire WestCE31/6/353) and it seems from the Peach/Angell Family History that there may have been a child born in the June quarter of 1943 (Chester Vol. 8a Page 680).
The Roll of Honour was dedicated at Hawarden Grammar School on the the 3rd February 1951 with a Remembrance Service for the 47* former pupils who died in the 1939 – 1945 World War. As recorded in the Chester Chronicle Saturday 10th February 1951.
*Author’s note, there are 46 names on the Roll of Honour, clerical error by the newspaper.
Elizabeth Langford died, I believe, in 1951 (Holywell Vol. 8a Page: 489) age 75 and Walter died, I believe, in 1955 ( Hawarden Vol. 8a Page 450) age 67 years. So they may have been able to see the Dedication on the 3rd February 1951.
Henry Cyril was very much loved and missed by his family and he is also remembered on the Buckley WW2 War Memorial, please click on the link to read his story.
Henry’s son, Robert M. Langford contacted me and kindly sent me a short summary of his father’s career, many thanks to him.
Harry Langford: Summary of Naval career
My father Henry (Harry) Cyril Langford was a keen radio ham and in his teens built and operated his own short wave station from his home in Brunswick Road, Buckley. His school friends described him as a great enthusiast and persuaded them to join him in this hobby.
On leaving school he became an electrical engineer specialising in radio and worked in the radio department at Browns of Chester, a prestigious department store at that time.
In 1939 seeing that war was likely and not wanting to kill anybody he joined the Royal Naval Volunteer Wireless Reserve and was called up immediately war was declared.
His first ship was HMS Carthage, an armed merchant cruiser based in Durban, South Africa and from 1939 to 1941 he escorted convoys from Cape Town to India. He then had a spell at Devonport followed by the Fleet Air Arm based at St Merryn near Padstow, Cornwall where my mother joined him.
In 1942 he joined the aircraft carrier HMS Victorious and gained experience of amphibious landings when it became the command ship for the Allied invasion on North Africa. With him having been in the tropics the Victorious’ adventures in the ice of the North Atlantic played havoc with his health and he had two bouts of rheumatic fever. After hospital he had lighter duties at Devonport and in 1943 moved toHMS Skiddaw based in Sheerness for mine sweeping and anti-aircraft duties in the Thames estuary.He was joined by my mother and me as a new born baby.
In 1944 he was at the Landing Craft Base in Southampton preparing for the invasion and aboard HMS Nith, a Frigate charged with controlling the landing the 231st Infantry Brigade onto Gold (Jig) beach for D-Day. His previous experience and now at the top of the Navy’s technical specialism of wireless as a Leading Telegraphist made him ideal to lead the communication team. He wrote home after the event saying being close into shore they wondered if they would live through the day and the noise was indescribable but their performance was considered “top line”. Later the ship took control of sailings to the Mulberry harbour. On the evening of 23rdJune they received an order to return to Plymouth on 24th June. Sadly, that night at about midnight the ship was badly damaged when a Mistel guided bomber exploded alongside. Harry and his entire communications team were killed and buried at sea.
His service is commemorated on the WW2 Buckley war memorial, Plymouth Hoe and the D-Day memorial to be opened in 2021 in Normandy.
Robert M Langford. October 2020