This is the family of Arthur Richard Hare and Gerald Hector Hare, who lived London and Steeple Morden. Arthur’s war service in Europe after D Day is detailed in a book The Sniper by Barry Wynne.
Arthur and Gerald’s father was Joe Hare a London bricklayer, who married Lavinia Gertrude Miller of Steeple Morden at Islington Registry Office in 1910. Gertrude (as she was known) came back to Steeple to give birth to Arthur on 6 October 1910, she returned to London leaving Arthur with his grandparents, the Millers in Hay Street. Gertrude and Joe lived in one room in London, which may explain the decision to leave Arthur behind.
They had four more children, John William, Joe, Rosaline and Charles, who all died within a few months of birth. Then on 10 April 1917 Gerald Hector was born at Steeple Morden and survived.
In the meantime, Joe the father had enlisted in the Army in 1914, but only lasted 3 months, when he was discharged as “not being likely to make an efficient soldier”! Despite this he re-enlisted in 1915, although was regularly AWOL, until finally posted to France in October 1916. Less than a year later, on 24 September 1917 he was missing presumed killed in action at Ypres and Arthur and Gerald were without a father.
Arthur was admitted and re-admitted to Steeple Morden School on various dates in 1914, 1915 and 1916, returning to London in between, until October 1919, when he appears to have settled at the School, leaving on reaching the age of 14 in December 1924. Gerald was admitted 23 May 1921 and apparently stayed until he reached 14. Details from the School Admissions Register are below.
Attendance at Steeple Morden School: Hare, Arthur Rd son of Joseph, c/o Mrs Miller, Hay Street and 25 Hatley Road, Finsbury Park. Date of birth 6 October 1910.
|22 Nov 1914||Left, see below|
|12 Apr 1915||Readmitted, see below|
|25 Nov 1915||Readmitted, see below|
|25 Nov 1915||Readmitted, left 12 Nov 1915 [sic]. Returned to London|
|15 May 1916||Readmitted, left 30 Oct 1918, see next page|
|7 Oct 1919||Readmitted of Hay Street. Dec 1924 exempt|
Attendance at Steeple Morden School: Hare, Gerald son of Gertrude of Hay Street. Date of birth 10 April 1917.
|23 May 1921||[Presumed remained until exemption Dec 1931?]|
Gertrude appears to have eventually moved back (1919?) to live with her parents, so Arthur and Gerald became Steeple Morden boys, probably with not a lot of parental supervision? Lavinia Gertrude remarried in 1940 to Frank Kirbyshire and died age 95 in 1983 at Steeple Morden.
Arthur became an agricultural labourer, until one cold morning in 1932 after working in a field of sprouts, he got on his bike and joined the Army. He served in India for 7 years and came back in 1939, when his services were required in Europe. He was a machine-gunner in the Surrey Regiment (?) and saw service in Greece, Crete, Burma and North Africa and it was not until the D Day landings that he became a sniper. After one brave sniping action he was awarded the Military Medal, which was presented to him in the field by Montgomery himself!
From the start of the war, Arthur had a three-year pen-pal relationship with a lady in Blackpool, who was the sister or friend of a fellow soldier. They arranged eventually to meet and in 1943 they married in Blackpool. Arthur wrote to Elsie every day he was away. Leaving the Army at the end of the war he became a gardener on a country estate at Dunsfold in Surrey and never touched a gun again, preferring to grow plants and nurture wildlife. Arthur and Elsie had no children and he died from pneumonia aged 70 at Dunsfold in 1981.
Gerald married Florence Jarman in London in 1945 and they had two daughters Christine Mary and Angela Elizabeth. Gerald died at Therfield on 10 April 2011 age 94.
Last Updated on July 18, 2020