Friday, August 07, 2015

374056 Bombardier John W Harmer MM, RGA

Chailey Parish Magazine notes in October 1914 that John Harmer is serving his King and Country.  Twelve months later it notes: Harmer, Gunner J, RGA, England and then, in July 1915, updates that information to note that he is in France. 

In September 1917 there are two additional pieces of information:  Harmer is now a bombardier and has also won the Military Medal.  These details, Bombardier J Harmer MM, RGA, then appear monthly up to and including the final published roll call in July 1919. 

This man is almost certainly John William Harmer who was born at Plumpton, Sussex about 1894 and whose birth was registered at Lewes in the March quarter of that year.  By the time the 1901 census was taken, he was a seven year old living at Plumpton Green with his widowed mother Annie Harmer (aged 32) and his sisters: Annie Gertrude Harmer (aged five), and Edith Olive Harmer (aged two).  Annie Harmer (born in Ireland) does not have any occupation noted against her name but her brother-in-law (Thomas Harmer, aged 21) is there at the house along with an 18 year old boarder – Charles Welfare – and a 61 year old lodger: James Gander. 

John joined the Territorial Force Garrison Artillery (date unknown) and was given the number 350.  When the Territorial Force was renumbered in February 1917 he was given the new number 374056.  This number falls within the range of numbers allocated to the Sussex Fortress RGA.  His Military Medal index card indicates his corps as "Sussex Royal Garrison Artillery attached Royal Garrison Artillery".  His rank on this card is given as Acting Bombardier and his name as J W Harmer.   

The rank of acting bombardier is also noted on his other medal index card ("Gunner" recorded against his earlier TF number) and his name is noted as John W Harmer.
Chailey Parish Magazine also notes a Thomas Harmer serving his King and Country but whether this is the same Thomas mentioned above, or indeed, whether he is related to John Harmer at all, remains unclear.

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