Charles Harvey

1901 – 1962

Charles William Harvey, was born 26th June 1901 at 30 Fulham Palace Road, Kensington, and Baptised on 1st September.

Baptism record, Charles William Harvey.
Charles William Harvey.

Family lore says he was one of the younger, of thirteen children, but several of them must have died at or before birth, as only eleven have been accounted for, and which is the number given in the 1911 census. His parents were, John Harvey, a Greengrocer, and Sarah Ann (Ayliffe).

John Harvey and Sarah Ann (Ayliffe).

Both John and Sarah Ann were born in Wiltshire, so may have bought some of their country ways and views to Harvey family life.

His known siblings were, May Bessie 1889, John Daniel 1890 – 92, Mary Jane (Jen) 1892, John Edward 1893 -1916 WW1, Florence 1897, Daisy 1898-98, Daniel 1900, (Charles William 1901), Isabella, 1903, Hilda Rose 1905, Alfred Henry 1906.

1911 Census entry. Harvey family.

Charles or Charlie as he was known, had a good singing voice, and he was a choir boy, at the local church. St Paul’s Hammersmith. It appears he passed this talent for singing on, to some, but not all of his descendants!

Although we knew this branch of the family were members of this church community, it appears that various other branches had been using it at least since the 1840’s.

Choirboys Charles (right) and brother Dan, c1912

He was also a sportsman, playing football in the local team. Palace Rangers.

Charles front right. Palace Rangers 1921.

On January 9th 1927 at St Paul’s Church Hammersmith, Charles married Winifred Alice Tranter, they had four children. Gordon Charles, 22nd July 1929 -2018, Brian John, 14th January 1932-2021 Malcolm 9th October 1936 -2019 and CWH 1941.

Charles and Win marriage entry.

Charles and Win, lived with William Tranter, following their marriage. He was Win’s grandfather, at Aberdeen House, London Road, Hounslow, where Gordon was born in 1929. They were then able to purchase their home at 162 Cranford Lane, Heston. Brian was born here in 1932, followed by Malcolm 1936, and Cynthia in 1941.

“I am sure that one thing that decided my dad to buy the house in Cranford Lane was the very long garden. He had been born in Fulham from a line of market gardeners. The houses had been built on orchards so fruit trees were already well-established to start him off.

National Register 1939.
Charles William Harvey in Butchers apron.

Dad was the manager of a butcher’s shop in London, serving many large hotels and notables. The shop also had the royal warrant which I always felt rather proud about! He left home at 5.30 each morning, apart from Sunday, cycling the mile or so to Hounslow West station. He was able to leave his bike near the station to be looked after by someone I only knew as ‘Jack’. Jack was what we might now describe as disabled and I think he was able to earn himself a small income by housing bikes. Dad got home about 6.30 and, if fine, was happy tending his garden until early bed at about 9.00 pm !

Charles was known to be rather a character, and would accept anything that might be of use, such as secondhand spectacles. DIY was not his forte, and the story is, that he secured the bathroom mirror to the wall with enormous nails.

As well as tending the garden Charles, like many others, kept chickens, rabbits and even a goat! Brian, the mischievous one, had a bit of a run-in with the goat and also with a cockerel when he was sent to feed the chickens!

It may have been this cockerel who was named ‘Leghorn’ and used as a code for Charles to explain where he was based in Italy during the war. ( Livorno on the West Coast of Italy, between Rome & Pisa, is also known as Leghorn).

Another event that took place was a visit by dad and the boys to dad’s uncle who had married a gypsy wife and lived in a caravan. It seems that they came home on the underground train armed with some hops which had a very pungent smell. Mum was not amused!”

Fishing by the Thames.

As well as gardening, Charles other love was angling. He was not a lover of staying away from home so most holidays consisted of days spent at various locations by the Thames or later at a local gravel pit. However the family did spend one holiday at the seaside – Bognor. This was made memorable as Malcolm managed to get lost on the beach, eventually being identified by a scar on his leg from a previous minor accident.

Perhaps the holiday in question, with baby Malcolm asleep.

Another memory passed to me was of days spent in Canvey Island where the beach consisted of mud rather than sand so didn’t prove too popular with my mum! Of course in those days there was no washing machine. Mum often stayed up after dad left and lit the boiler and got her hand washing done before we were all up.

In spring 1941 Charles informed Win that he had enlisted to serve, even though he was above the official age for conscription. Just why he decided to serve, no-one quite knows but we can only surmise that, with things not going well at that time, he felt he had to do his bit. His older brother had been killed in the First World War so maybe that affected his decision.

This was particularly hard for my mum as she had just found herself to be expecting another child (me!). I was due to be born in October but hadn’t arrived when Dad was actually called up in early November. I was born in West Middlesex Hospital on 17th November and dad was given 6 days leave at the beginning of December then back to square-bashing. (This was paternity leave in those days!!). I can imagine there was a bit of rejoicing in the family to have a girl after three boys and I was named Cynthia after a distant relative and Winifred after my mother. Although a popular name at the beginning of the century, it had definitely gone out of fashion by this time and was a blight for the rest of my life!!! my dad was particularly pleased because I had the same initials as him (Charles William Harvey).

Of course, I was unaware of the trials and tribulations endured during the war years but do have some memories. My dad undertook training during 1942 but was able to get home to the family occasionally. However in Spring 1943 he came home for embarkation leave prior to sailing to Sicily to take part with the Desert Rats in the Italian campaign.

Charles’ war details:
6/11/41 called up
Charles W Harvey. T/1066 3820
‘B’ Coy No 2 Tng.Ben (drivers) RASC

1/2/42 Posted to 425 G.T. Coy RASC Bn
27/6/43 embarked UK 8th Army PT 425 Coy (not too sure about this as not very clear)
19/7/43 Disembark Sicily

Italian Star Association A website dedicated to the memory and research of those who served in the Italian campaign, and which appears largely to have been overlooked by history, but involved many horrific battles, often against seemingly impossible odds.

Charles war records ‘We Will Remember Them’

‘Happy Christmas from Home’ 1943, to Italy.

We had the obligatory family photo taken before he left and I am sure my mum and brothers wondered if they would see him again! I do remember my mum sitting with me at bedtime with a photo to ensure I included “God Bless Daddy “ in my prayers. (At this time I did have my own interpretation of the Lord’s Prayer – “Lead us not into Thames Station” – must have been mention of those fishing trips!!). I do have a copy of a letter sent to mum from Sicily and it is interesting how as a gardener, he was fascinated by the method of growing grapes etc. He was a driver with the RASC and had a good rapport with the local people when seeking provisions. I can remember hustling into the air-raid shelter in Berkeley School (later to be strictly out of bounds to inquisitive pupils), and being thrust under the table when a bomb exploded not far away.
In February 1943 my dad’s father was killed when a bomb hit his house in Chiswick, his wife having died a couple of weeks earlier.

This must have been a shock to Charles, having survived under enemy fire for 3 years, to discover his elderly Father had been killed by enemy action at home.

My last wartime memory was 13th November 1944. I was with mum, Brian and Malcolm and I was sitting just behind the door on a large red leather chair. The door opened and brother Gordon came in saying “I’ve brought someone to see you all “ and he was followed by my dad!! There was of course much excitement and, probably because of that nightly photo, I took to him straight away and was soon up on his shoulders. It seemed that no-one was quite sure which day he would be arriving and Gordon was on the 111 bus when dad got on at Hounslow West. They each looked at the other to confirm each one to the other causing the bus conductress to almost be in tears”.

(In his young days Charlie had striking auburn hair but by the time he returned from the war his hair was grey so this was how Cynthia always remembered him. She was mystified as a child when meeting some old friends of his to hear them say “Oh hello Ginger”).

The Rising Sun Pub on Cranford Lane was my dad’s go-to place before and after the war for a pint and darts Sunday lunchtimes! We lived opposite Berkeley School. I sometimes was sent to call him for lunch if he overstayed his time”😱😂

Family day out on the Thames

Following the war, family life returned, although it was considered that there were two families – the ‘before the war family’ of Win, Charlie and three sons and the ‘after the war’ family of Win, Charlie, Malcolm and CWH. Brian joined the Navy aged 15 in 1946, starting his training on HMS Ganges. He married Joan in 1955. Gordon, started National Service in the Army c1947. He was posted to Gibraltar and met wife-to-be Maribel, marrying her in 1953. He joined the Admiralty as a lecturer with Gibraltar as his first posting after marriage. Malcolm married Pat in 1960, emigrating to Canada in 1961.

In 1962, the family suffered a devasting tragedy, when Charlie was involved in a fatal railway accident on his way home from work. The family had to come to terms with this awful event which also involved the distress of an inquest.

Charles ashes were interred in the churchyard of Heston St Leonard Church.

Charles memorial stone.

Angela & Cynthia with memories from Brian 2021