Today, Remembrance Day, I will be adding my great-uncle Edgar to the list of those I know of personally who have made and still make great sacrifices defending our freedom from aggressors.
I only found out about Edgar Harlow this summer thanks to my cousin and my aunt who have very kindly been helping me put together some family history for my son Will’s scrapbook. What a tragic but amazing story this is and although Edgar lost his life in 1942 during WWII, I’m so glad that I have this story to pass on to future generations in the hope that it makes the act of Remembrance all the more real and closer to home.
We should not forget.
In October 1942, Edgar Harlow set out on his way home for Christmas, travelling from Africa, where we believe he was serving in the Royal Corps of Signals (Gambia Area).
At approximately 9.30pm on 30 October 1942, the troop ship “President Doumer” with Edgar onboard was torpedoed 150 miles north of Madeira. Chaos ensued but a Norwegian Steam Merchant ship SS Alaska managed to rescue many survivors from the Doumer. The rescued survivors included Edgar Harlow.
Sadly however, SS Alaska was itself torpedoed just after midnight, and it was in this second attack that Edgar died. SS Alaska limped into Gibraltar before returning to the UK.
Such was the chaos and confusion around who perished in the first attack, who was rescued and subsequently killed that Edgar’s family did not receive the telegram informing them of his death until 11.00am on Christmas morning 1942.
Such a sad story, but one which needs to be remembered.
Lest we forget.
The President Doumer