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  • Claire Jordan

Harry Macklin



I just wanted to offer up a late but heartfelt tribute to the brave man who this sweet little boy with his too-small, hand-me-down shirt would become.


He was Harry Macklin, the Somerset son of a farm labourer who, aged seventeen, was working as a domestic page boy. When he volunteered to serve with the Royal Navy in February 1915, he had found work he maybe enjoyed better, as a gardener.


Perhaps because of his previous experience as a page, he was made an Officer’s Steward (Third Class) when he was posted after initial training to the newly commissioned Grand Fleet battleship HMS Canada on 10th August.


But on this day, 23rd September 1915, his High-Seas adventure came to an end a month before his 21st birthday, when he died in Armstrong College Hospital, Newcastle, from ‘ear disease’.


I don’t know exactly what ‘ear disease’ means for Harry under these circumstances but it must have come on fast and been entirely terrifying. I have seen a soldier before, a strong young lad fresh into British barracks from the Canadian prairies, who died of a brain abscess, a direct result of a simple but unstoppable ear infection in a world before antibiotics.


Harry’s Mum and Dad, Harry and Elizabeth, brought him home to St Mary’s Churchyard at Witham Friary, so he would always be close to home after his big, brave adventure.


He could have done no more and he is Never Forgotten.

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