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  • Commemorated on the Portsmouth Naval Memorial. (www.cwgc.org)
Person Details
02 Oct 1889
Old Basford Nottingham
George Edward was the third son of George and Harriet Harper (née Line). His father George was born in Cranfield, Bedfordshire, in about 1855 and his mother Harriet was born in Barnes, Surrey, in about 1854. They were married in 1881 (registered J/A/S Fulham London) and had five children two of whom died before 1911: William Newton b. 1882 bap. Basford St Leodegarius 25 September 1882 d. 1909; Maud Gertrude b. 1884 (reg. J/F/M); Gertrude Mary b. 1887 (reg. J/F/M) bap. St Leodegarius 1887; George Edward b. 1886 (reg. J/F/M) d. 1886 (reg. J/F/M) and George Edward b. 2 October 1889 bap. St Leodegarius 16 June 1890. All the children were born in Old Basford. Married in London in 1881, George and Harriet had moved to Nottingham by 1882 where George was a stoker at the Borough Council's gasworks. In 1882 they were living at 8 West Gate, Basford, but by 1887 at 23 Mill Street Basford. However, in 1891 when the census was taken they were living at 32 Silverdale Road, Basford, which was the family home until at least the war years. In 1891 only three of George and Harriet's four surviving children were in the home on the night of the census: Maud (7), Gertrude (4) and George (1). William, who was about eight years old, was probably a patient at the Nottingham General Hospital. By 1901 the elder daughter Maud was a servant in the household of David Widdowson, a butcher (own account), and his wife and famly in Basford. Her three siblings were still living with their parents; William a stableman, Gertrude a lace mender and George who was still at school. George joined the Royal Marine Light Infantry (Portsmouth Division) on 26 June 1907. His brother William committed suicide two years later in June 1909. (See 'Extra information') Only the two sisters, Maud and Gertrude, both lace menders, were living with their parents in 1911. George snr. died in 1914 (reg. J/F/M) and Harriet in 1926.
George enrolled in the Royal Marine Light Infantry (Portsmouth Division) on 26 June 1907
01 Nov 1914
25
2871280 - CWGC Website
PO/14886
32 Silverdale Road, Basford, Nottingham. Enlisted Nottingham
Private
Royal Marine Light Infantry Royal Navy
Royal Marine Light Infantry (Portsmouth Division) serving in HMS Good Hope George Edward enrolled in the RMLI on 26 June 1907. RM records give his date of birth as 2 October 1888 whereas his birth was registered in 1889 (O/N/D); another Great War record gives his date of birth as 2 October 1889. It might be an administrative error on the RM records but it is more likely that George gave his age as 18 when he joined ie. born in 1888. George Edward was killed when HMS Good Hope was sunk with all hands at the Battle of Coronel on 1 November 1914. His body was not recovered for burial and he is commemorated on the Portsmouth Naval Memorial. HMS Good Hope was a Drake Class armoured cruiser built in 1901. By 1914 she was Rear Admiral Sir Christopher George Cradock’s flag ship which, along with HMS Monmouth and other British vessels of 4th Cruiser Squadron, encountered Vice Admiral von Spee’s Scharnhorst and Gneisenau forty five miles off the Chilean port of Coronel. The German ships were faster and more heavily armed than Cradock’s fleet. The sun set at 18:50 on November 1st 1914, which silhouetted the British ships against the light sky while the German ships became indistinguishable from the shoreline behind them. Spee immediately turned to close and signalled his ships to open fire at 19:04 when the range closed to 12,300 yards. Spee's flagship, Scharnhorst, engaged Good Hope while Gneisenau fired at Monmouth. Cradock's flagship was hit on the Scharnhorst's third salvo, when shells knocked out her forward 9.2-inch turret and set her forecastle on fire. Cradock, knowing his only chance was to close the range, continued to do so despite the battering that Spee's ships inflicted. By 19:23 the range was almost half of that when the battle began and the British ships bore onwards. Spee tried to open the range, fearing a torpedo attack, but the British were only 5,500 yards away at 19:35. Seven minutes later, Good Hope steered directly at the German ships, although they were able to evade the British cruiser. Spee ordered his armoured cruisers to concentrate their fire on the British flagship which had drifted to a halt with her topsides ablaze. At 19:50 her forward magazine exploded, severing the bow from the rest of the ship, and she later sank in the darkness. Von Spee estimated that his flagship had made 35 hits on Good Hope, suffering only two hits in return that did no significant damage and failed even to wound one crewman. Good Hope was sunk with all hands, a total of 919 officers and men. Note: Good Hope and Monmouth’s ship’s companies mainly comprised reservists whereas von Spee’s crews were well trained and experienced. There were just two other British ships the light cruiser HMS Glasgow and the armed merchant cruiser Otranto, neither of which were a threat to von Spee’s modern ships which had a greater fire-power than those of the British Squadron. The captain of Cradock’s flagship, HMS Good Hope, was Captain Philip Francklin, who was a career officer and came from Gonalston Nottinghamshire (Gonalston memorial). A postscript is that von Spee’s squadron was destroyed, and he and his two sons killed, when the Royal Navy under Admiral Sturdee exacted retribution six weeks later at the Battle of the Falkland Islands 8 December 1914.’
Nottingham Evening Post, 14 June 1909: ‘Tragedy of Unemployment. Basford Labourer’s Suicide. After having tramped the streets of Nottingham vainly in search of work since October last, William Harper, aged 27, a bricklayer’s labourer, of 32, Silverdale-road, Basford, was found in the early hours of Saturday morning hanging from a fence near Bagthorpe Cottages, Basford. Mr CL Rothera investigated the affair at the Hyson Green Court this afternoon. The evidence of the deceased’s mother, Harriet Harper, showed that he left the house at half-past six on Friday. For the past few weeks he had been depressed but had never complained or threatened to do himself any injury. On the rare occasions when he spoke he said he was sick of continually walking the streets in search of work. The discovery of the body was made by Frederick Rowland, a collier, of 23, Mill-street, Ilkeston. The fence from which deceased was suspended was about five feet high. He was in a slanting position, th sides of his boots just reaching the ground. The Coroner remarked that it was a sad thing that a man of the age and physique of deceased should be for months and months without occupation. The jury returned a verdict of ‘Suicide during temporary insanity.’ (www.britishnewspaperarchive.co.uk) Nottingham Evening Post, 4 December 1914, photograph with caption: ‘GE Harper, Silverdale Rd., Basford, lost with HMS Good Hope.’ (www.britishnewspaperarchive.co.uk) Nottingham Evening Post 'In Memoriam', 1 November 1915: 'Harper. In loving memory of George Edward Harper, RMLI, who went down with HMS Good Hope, November, 1914. A day of remembrance sad to recall. Mother and sisters.’ (www.britishnewspaperarchive.co.uk) George's mother and sisters placed 'In Memoriam' notices in the Nottingham Evening Post up to and including 1917.
Remembered on

Photos

  • Commemorated on the Portsmouth Naval Memorial. (www.cwgc.org)
    George Edward Harper - Commemorated on the Portsmouth Naval Memorial. (www.cwgc.org)
  • Photograph published in the Nottingham Evening Post, 4 December 1914. (www.britishnewspaperarchive.co.uk)
    George Edward Harper - Photograph published in the Nottingham Evening Post, 4 December 1914. (www.britishnewspaperarchive.co.uk)