1918-2008: Ninety Years of Remembrance

Soldier Record

Harry Hamblin

Contributed by: Tony Goddard, on 2009-06-25

Harry Hamblin
First Name Harry
Surname Hamblin
Year of Birth 1897
Year of Death 1917
Regiment Royal Naval Volunteer Reserve
Place of Wartime Residence Wincanton, Somerset

Harry's Story

Service No: BZ/1343. RNVR. Drake Battalion R.N. Division. Born 25th February 1897. Killed in action 25th August 1917. Harry was a railway porter at Wincanton and enlisted in the Royal Naval Volunteer Reserve at Bristol on 12th November 1915 with his friend Ernest Hinks. He had three brothers Daniel, Emmanuel and Samuel and a sister Gladys. At the outbreak of the War, there was a surplus of some 20-30,000 men on the Reserves of the Royal Navy who would not find jobs on any ship of war. It was recognised that this was sufficient to form two Naval Brigades, and a Brigade of Marines. Consequently Harry was drafted for the British Expeditionary Force on 21st November 1916, joining the Drake Bn. of the Royal Naval Division on 12th December 1916 going straight into the line. On 4th February 1917 he developed trench feet and was invalided to England on 7th February 1917 and was drafted back to the BEF on 30th July 1917 rejoining Drake Bn. on 23rd August 1917. On 25th August he was wounded by shellfire and suffered wounds to the legs and fractured both femurs, he died of his wounds that day in the 149th (RN) Field Hospital. The battalion diary for the day stated "Fine weather, situation quiet, four casualties, 1 killed, 3 wounded, 3 since died". His mother Mary, who was by then widowed lived at 1 West Hill, Wincanton and she received a very poignant letter from the Lieutenant commanding Harry's section which is repeated as he wrote it, very much in the language of the time. It reads "It is with deep regret that I have to inform you that your son Harry has died of wounds received at the front on 25th August. We are all awfully sorry, and do hope you will accept our deepest sympathy in your loss. Four of the lads were hit at the same time and Harry caught it principally in the thigh. Our doctor and stretcher bearers did all they could for him, and he was quite conscious when he left the trench, and I did hope in spite of the serious wounds he would come right, but we are informed today that Harry passed away on the way down. Your son bore his wounds magnificently, and was awfully plucky. He said he would bear up because he was an Englishman, and he sang a verse of Tipperary. He had only been back to the Battalion two days, and I am sorry I did not know him more, for I know that a man who could die as he did was worth knowing." At the same time Mrs Mary Hamblin received a letter that her brother Pte. F. Howell of the Somerset Light Infantry was wounded !

Harry is buried at the Point du Jour Military Cemetery, Athies near Arras. Grave I G 11.

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