From his funeral Tribute by Lt Chris Seaton RNR 4 October 2017
He was born in Shaw, near Rochdale
At an early age Harry showed the characteristics that remained with him all his life – ambition to achieve and determination to work hard, initially to pass the scholarship exam to gain a place in the Grammar school, this he did being awarded a Junior Bursary to Chadderton Grammar School. There he got his School Certificate and later matriculated.
Aged eight he had caught Scarlet Fever that developed into Rheumatic Fever, he was very ill and off school for six weeks.
The chance finding of a leaflet telling how to join the RN as an artificer apprentice led to Harry apply, taking the exam and being accepted.
On the 14 August 1941, he took the train to Plymouth and was taken to HMS Fisgard, in Torpoint. Here he was with a group of about 80 other boys. He gained practical experience in the machine shops and theoretical in the classroom. He enjoyed his time there, learning to play rugby. Leave was generous and rail warrants were provided so he was able to go home for holidays. The pay was not over generous being four shillings a fortnight for the first two years. After two years as a junior, he became a senior, with more pay. The studies became more practical and technical. Harry continued to show his potential; in his final year he was promoted to Petty Officer, and in the last term, Chief Petty Officer. In the final exams he came top and learned that he was to be interviewed with the possibility of being offered a Commission.
Harry left Fisgard and went to Whale Island, to study modern weaponry. In 1946 he was drafted to HMS Vanguard, the Navy’s largest Battleship. When the ship was commissioned it was learned that it was to act Royal Yacht and take the Royal Family to South Africa. On passage the Royal Family were given small arms instruction and Harry had to be present. Princess Elizabeth did as she had been taught and scored well, Princess Margaret, however, more-or-less closed her eyes before firing – and scored a bull! Harry, most amused turned away so his face could not be seen – he found himself face to face with the Queen, and, in spite of instructions, he spoke and said “That was a fluke, wasn’t it, Ma’am?” he received a “Yes, it was!” and a smile in reply.
After Vanguard’s return to the UK, Harry was summoned to the Admiralty for his Sub-Lieutenant interview. He was promoted with seniority 1 July 1948, just seven years from Apprentice to Sub-Lieutenant was exceptional. From then until April 1950 he attended college for Engineer Officers at Greenwich and Devonport. He was then appointed to the aircraft carrier HMS Illustrious. Promotion to Lieutenant followed in March 1951.
In 1952 he was appointed to HMS Sheffield, which was on the Bermuda station. He sailed by Cunard liner to New York and had a week there before sailing on to Bermuda. Sheffield called at many ports showing the flag around North America. A diversion to Chile worried Harry as he was due to marry Rosemary Falla in November 1954 in Bristol. Fortunately he was able to make the date.
In 1956 Harry applied for Submarine Service, he was accepted and after training was appointed to HMS Sentinal based in Malta. Rosemary joined him there and their first child, Nicholas, was born. In 1957 Sentinal returned to England for a refit. In 1958 he was told that his next posting was to Australia to be Senior Instructor Engineer at HMAS Cerberus, the Engineering School in Victoria. In June that year their second child Sarah was born. In March 1959 Harry was promoted to Lieutenant Commander. He stayed in Cerberus until 1960 when he was brought home and worked for the Director General Ships as head of a design section in MoD Bath.
In 1963 he retired from the Navy. During his time he had studied to become a Chartered Engineer and Member of the Institute of Mechanical Engineers.
He put his qualifications and experience to good use:
seven years with BAT in Bristol; ten years in Guernsey for the Guernsey Gas Company (it was near Rosemary’s family, while there his second son Simon was born), his free time he was involved with the local community and was Harbour Master; finally moving to London to work for Crosse and Blackwell. Following his divorce in 1981, his final position in London was working for Harrods. During this time he met, and married in the URC Chapel in Sidmouth, the lady remembered affectionately as Betty. They bought their home in Balfour Manor.
Betty was already very involved in the social life of the area and Harry was only too happy to follow suit. He retained his Naval connection by joining the Exeter Flotilla where he became a most committed member, never missing a meeting or a function and serving for years on the Committee, he was also a member of the Naval Old Comrades Association. He joined SIDDFAS, the East Devon Luncheon Club, the Norman Lockyer Observatory, the Conservative Club and the Sid Vale Association. He played golf regularly for exercise rather than for glory. He continued with his membership of these even after Betty’s death in 2011. On Sundays he had always attended the Chapel Street URC with Betty, and remained an active member until a short while before it closed when, with Ann, he began worshiping here in the Parish Church. He commented regularly how much he felt at home in this Anglican Church.
Harry was well aware the his heart had been affected by his rheumatic fever as a boy, and had regular check-ups by his cardiologist, but realised this year that his condition was deteriorating, though being Harry, he was still making plans for the future. He had made it clear that he wished to remain in his own home, with carers, if necessary, until such time as he needed more intensive care. This he achieved largely thanks to Ann’s almost constant attention.
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