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Harringay, Haringey - So Good they Spelt it Twice!

My father, Douglas Marr was a survivor of the First World War. One hundred years ago this month, when at the age of nineteen he was living in the family rented home at 63 Warwick Gardens, he volunteered to join up. Douglas enlisted as a Private in the 7th London Regiment. He served as a foot-soldier in France throughout the war and was involved in front-line fighting at the Battle of the Somme and at Ypres.

Although Douglas suffered from a gas attack, which left him with lifetime bronchial problems and had machine-gun bullet wounds in his shoulder, he was sent back to the front as soon as he was deemed fit. I was born in 1940 and it was the second war that featured in my childhood, but I remember trying to get my father to talk about his war. Typically, like many of the men who had been through that experience he refused to speak about it – the only words I recall him saying were that “they looked after the horses better than they did the men!”

Douglas was a quiet self-effacing man and throughout the time I knew him he was a pacifist and socialist. I am proud to be his son and I still have his war medals. Douglas died in 1961 and I regret it was only after his death that I read more about the First World War (including Robert Graves “Goodbye to All That”) and had any real understanding of the horrors he must have gone through.

 

Colin 

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Replies to This Discussion

Hi Colin - thanks for sharing this information, it's really interesting to hear a story from someone who actually knew a soldier (and his personality).

I've just had a quick look the parish records at St. Paul's, Harringay and, unfortunately, your father seems to be one of those who slipped through the net in the recording; there was a Roll of Honour, not just for those who went to church or thought of themselves as Christians, but for all men who lived in the parish who volunteered. Sadly, we don't have the full list in one original record, but we have pieced together what we can from the monthly additions list that was printed in the parish magazine - we know that this record is incomplete for a number of reasons, chiefly that they stopped printing new names every month when it got to 700 long and that they only knew what people told them - I imagine that there were lots of men who were not recorded because their families weren't associated with the church and would never have thought (or perhaps wanted) to get in touch to have their men's names put on the roll.

In case anyone else reading Colin's post has any relatives that they'd like to look up, we've put the full list that we have online on our "Harringay Remembers" website, which is here. It also has a list of those recorded on the war memorial that was inside the old church (the one that burnt down in 1984) and some pictures of the men from the Young Men's Bible Class, in their uniforms, that were collected by the church and displayed in the vestry during the war (these are now in the London Metropolitan Archives).

Thanks for sharing your family story, Colin. Stories like this are all the more poignant when they relate to people who shared the same space we inhabit and are told by relatives. Your dignified tale serves as a noble memorial to your father.

Absolutely Hugh. Many thanks Colin.

From NHP log book

Thanks for sharing this, Angela - poor Mrs Hawke.

Good primary material. Thanks. A very matter of fact accounting. The war sounds like it seemed very distant for all it was having an impact on their day-to-day lives.

......or not!

(From the St. Paul's Parish Magazine (2nd part of the article which starts in the previous reply)) - you need to bear in mind that the magazine was subject to censorship under the Defence of the Realm Act.

Yes, Colin so many questions we should have asked and now won't get the chance.  However as you say the men who fought, like my grandfather didn't want to talk about it much.

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