HARRY BUCKINGHAM WAKEM (1900-1940)

Harry Buckingham Wakem died on 13th April 1940 and was buried in St Torney's churchyard.His gravestone is still there. It is not a Commonwealth War Graves Commission monument but a private stone.

Harry was recorded as one of the fallen of World War Two on the war memorial at Congdon's Shop. Can you help explain whether this was usual given that his service appears to have been completed a decade before the second war broke out? Click on this image to see his service record. Did he return to service at the outbreak of hostilities in 1939?

Harry was born at Stonaford in North Hill parish. His father was William Ernest Wakem and his mother was Jane Wakem, nee Buckingham, from whence Harry got his middle name. William worked as a labourer on the Trebartha Estate. In 1911 the family lived in Trebartha Mill. Harry had an elder sister, Olive, and an elder brother, William. He also had a younger brother, Charlie and a younger sister, Nora. For a short while when Harry was a baby the family lived in the Pill area of Saltash where his father operated the mill, but he would have regarded North Hill as his home. It was where he was baptised and where he grew up. The family are shown here at home in North Hill and Harry is on the right, somewhat prophetically in a sailor's uniform.

As a teenager through the years of World War One Harry worked as a market gardener but on his 18th birthday he enlisted into the Royal Navy at Devonport for a 12 year period of service, all of which was spent as a stoker. He was just 5 feet 7 inches tall with light brown hair, brown eyes and the fresh complexion of his youth when he was first posted to HMS Vivid II which was a shore establishment for the training of stokers.

Harry's first sea going posting was in May 1920 when he joined the C-Class light cruiser HMS Cambrian which can be seen below at anchor.

Wikipedia records HMS Cambrian's activities as follows: The ship was assigned to the North American and West Indies Station the following month, where she served until 1922. Cambrian's crew spent several days in August trying to tow off the schooner Bella Scott after she had run aground near Kingston, Jamaica and received a brief refit in Bermuda in March/April 1920. The Prince of Wales again visited the ship on 26 September in Dominica. On 25 January 1921, she was inspected by Vice-Admiral Sir William Pakenham at Bermuda and again on 17 June. The ship arrived at Plymouth, Massachusetts to participate in the Pilgrim Tercentenary celebrations on 31 July.

After a short spell back on shore at HMS Vivid II he was posted to the insect class gunboats HMS Cricket, Mantis and Bee from 1923 to 1926. In this period the gunboats were on the Royal Navy's Yangtze River Patrol in China.

This photo of HMS Cricket has been supplied courtesy of
http://frankstaylorfamilyandroyalnavyhistory.net/InsectClassRiverGunboats.html#_Photo_Gallery

Harry's final posting was to on HMS Erebus, a gunner training vessel, before his 'paper' transfer to HMS Carysfort, which was the flagship of Devonport at the time and through which demobilization occurred.

The images at the top of the page show (L-R): Harry Buckingham Wakem as a child in a sailor's uniform; an extract from his service record; British War Medal (WW1)