Private Harry Potter (5251351)

Harry Potter was one of 8 Potter children living in Kidderminster (near Birmingham) with his parents.  He left school at the age of 14 and worked for six months at the Glider Dome fixing roller skates.  He then went to work at a carpet factory where he was employed as a carpet creeler, which involved heavy physical work lifting packages of yarn on to carpet tufting machines.
At the age of 16 Harry travelled to Birmingham to enlist into the British Army even though he was still under age.  In order to join the army Harry lied about his age saying he was a year older than he actually was.  So on the 3rd January 1938 Harry Potter became a soldier in the 1st Battalion Worcestershire Regiment.

Harry’s father, David, a cobbler, had been a soldier in the First World War and still had shrapnel lodged in the side of his head from the Battle of the Somme.

For the next 8 months Harry was training with other recruits of the Worcestershire Regiment. The family were all very proud of him, especially his mother.  His younger brothers were particularly excited when he came home on leave as he would always bring back biscuits to share.

In September, 1938, the 1st Battalion Worcestershire Regiment, which was then stationed in Aldershot, received orders to move to Palestine. The Arab revolt, which had been simmering for some time, reached serious proportions and it was necessary to reinforce the existing British garrison there.

Harry was very proud to be a soldier and set off for Palestine as part of the Worcestershire’s Motor Transport division in September 1938 as he turned 17.

Harry Potter (age 17)

H.M.T. Neuralia

On the 14th September 1938, at the age of only 17, Harry sailed with the rest of the Worcestershire Regiment from Southampton on board the troop transport ship H.T. Neuralia and headed for the port of Haifa in Palestine (Israel).

After a remarkably calm voyage the 1st Battalion reached Haifa on the 26th September 1938, and the same day moved in Motor Transport down the coast road through Tel Aviv and Jaffa to Sarafand, where they bivouaced for the night.

Harry was a driver in the Motor Transport section of the Battalion.  His nickname was 'Crash Harry'!

The following day they moved on up the hill road to Jerusalem, where we took over a tented camp alongside the lines of 2nd Battalion The Black Watch. 
The drive from Haifa to Jerusalem was something of an achievement, for the Battalion provided all the drivers for the 60 odd vehicles of all types which formed our convoy. Many of the drivers like Harry were inexperienced.
The Motor Transport section of the Battalion was spilt up on various detachments based in Bethlehem, Hebron (Battalion H.Q.), Isolation Hospital (at Hebron) and Deir Sha'ar.  In the first few months a number of Jewish drivers were also employed to help with the shortage of experienced drivers.

Harry's best friend in the Battalion was Private Holland who was from London.  The adjacent photo show Potter and Holland together in Palestine.  At the time Private Holland had suffered an injury to his left hand (seen bandaged).

During the spring of 1939, Harry Potter was now attached to 'D' Company who had been based at Deir Sha'ar since November 1938.

For a time Private Potter was stationed at a Pumping Station on the Beersheba Road, 6 miles south of Hebron.  The Station supplied water to Hebron.  This Pumping Station was commonly referred to as 'Pumpet'.  Harry made reference to this place in the letter home to his mother.  Although 'Pumpet' was a very popular billet with the men of the Worcestershire Regiment, it was also a very isolated spot that came in for sniping from the Arabs from time to time.

On the evening of 22nd July 1939, “D” Company, returning from As Samu, engaged an armed band at Kilo 39 on the Hebron-Beersheba road.  This gang had earlier ambushed an R.A.F. armoured car. During the engagement Private Harry Potter (5251351) was killed and Privates Darby, Warwick, Pearson and Simmonds were wounded. Private Joseph Darby later died of his wounds in hospital in Jerusalem on 7th September 1939.

Private Potter and Private Holland

Shortly before Harry Potter was killed he wrote the letter below to his mother, which sadly arrived the day after the family were told of his death.

"Dear Mother,
In answer to your letter, I am getting on alright. I expect to be home for Christmas. If I am not it is a bit of bad luck.

At present I am in a place we call The Pumpet.  We have not got a lot of work to do at present and I hope you are alright.  I hope dad is still in work.  Tell Ken
(his six year old brother) I am not forgetting his bike. I hope Alice (his older sister) is alright.

We have been going swimming a lot lately. You perhaps have been reading the papers.

I am not boasting but listen to the news on the wireless and listen to what work we in the Worcestershires have been doing. Well, I think that is all for now.

Cheerio – Crash Harry."

Note: Harry had promised to buy a bike for Ken his 6 year old brother, for his birth day.

Funeral procession of Private Harry Potter entering the Ramle Cemetery


Private Harry Potter burial

Private Harry Potter's army paybook which incorrectly shows his year of birth as 1919. Harry was actually born on the 16th September 1920 in Kidderminster.

Photos of Harry Potter and his funeral kindly supplied by his nephew Alan Hinton

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