The 50 year old mystery.
I first met Harold at the North Cheshire Amateur Radio Society. By chance I had heard the clubs weekly Local Amateur Society Sunday broadcast with a scanner my brother gave me whilst up in the woods in Alderley Edge. Within a week I was sat in the back room of the Morley Green Victory Hall.
The lecturer asked me what radio experience I had , being the newcomer to his class. I replied that I had been a Signaller in the Royal Marines, and just back from deployment in North Iraq. Harold said right away, "I was one of them !". I complimented him by saying , "Yes, I thought your boots were a bit too big to fill." After the lecture we had a chat in the bar at the front of the hall. We sat for quite a while then soon discovered that we lived only a mile away from each other in between Poynton and Bramhall in Cheshire. He came across as a very warm and friendly person and we soon pal'd up. I found the electronics study quite overwhelming and hard to grasp. But Harold kept encouraging me. He was kind to invite me round for a cup of tea to his house and to meet Joan, his lovely wife and see his radio shack.
He proudly showed me his Military Medal which he got in WW2. He told me he didn't exactly know why he got the medal . He could only think it was perhaps a bit of action he was in and observed by some Commando's of No.10 (Inter-Allied) Commando when under fire from the Germans at Walcheren. He told me how he was moving his detachment along an embankment and one of his men got hit. Harold went back for him , and extraced him from danger. Despite the ferocity, he then went back for the radio cart, and brought that into safe cover also.
However on a letter headed from Buckingham Palace, which he also showed me . His name engraved on the edge of the medal with his identification number. King George had sent him a wonderful letter stating his apologies due to a "right Royal sore stomach" and unable to attend on the day he was supposed to be presented with the medal at Buckingham Palace. Instead he was told to go to the Sergeant Majors Office and he was subsequently passed the medal and an officer shook his hand bruptly told him, " Well done Jones." saluted and that was it !
In 1994, for personal reasons, I had faded from attending the radio club. After several months I soon learned of Harolds Illness and that he was in hospital with a heart bypass operation. I felt very compelled to do something for him. Harold brought the best out in everyone he was in touch with.
The next day at work I took some time off at lunch and went to the Manchester Library Museum and asked for some assistance from the staff. They were very helpful and within minutes I was sat down scrolling through microfiche copies of the London Gazette @ 6th June, 1944. I had been all through it when I jumped with joy at locating the reference(but no citation details). Yes, superb. I had attracted the staff 's attention with an ecstatic couple of whoops. They printed me out a copy of the document , a late edition to the Gazette on that day. I ran back over to my Office in Lincoln Square and called the Royal Marines Museum. Have they got any more details on Harolds citation ?
I was told alot of the citation records didn't survive , but he'd look up an now out of print book. I could hear his footsteps walk along the floor and return to the telephone.He then located the entry in the book , read it out to me and faxed it to me at work in Manchester. Not put off by the book being out of print, I insisted he gave me the ISBN number of "Commando Gallanrty Awards of World War II" so I could maybe track the book down at a Provincial Book Fair etc. I was very excited, and my colleagues were just as delighted. Harold was at home recouperating and with dear Joan looking after him. I drove round to his house and gave him the faxed copy of the citation. So a fifty year old mystery was solved in a matter of hours. I felt so happy for Harold.
After several unsuccessful enquiries to Military and History Antiquarian Book Dealers.That night I decided not to give up. Next day, at lunchtime I decided to go to Sherratt and Hughes Bookstore off St Anne's Square, and a very helpful assistant afforded me 35 minutes and helped track down the owner of the rights to this Out of Print book. I called the contact number from the shop and asked if I could buy a copy for the gentleman on page 220. He looked up the book and replied, you can have a copy free! I then said well "I'll get him a second copy, he likes to have two copies in case he doesn't always get one back when he lends a book out". The owner said, " I'll give you that one at half price". I then insisted on a third copy that I pay for in full for myself and thanked him for his kindness. He laughed and despatched two of the copies to Harold's house.
For anyone who met Harold, they would come away from him as being a truly nice person and a gentleman. He had that wonderful impact on people. He and Joan were such a grand couple. The salt of the earth, and so many people must be missing them both, especially their son David and daughter Christine and grandchildren whom they were so very proud of. Harold introduced me to his lovely family and many of his friends and aquaintances from all over the world. To his extended family in Belgium also, such fine folk. All truly magnetised by Harolds incredibly charming personality.