His father, Ottiwell was a Licensed Victualer at the time of Harold's birth - at The New Inn, Minster Lovell, Oxfordshire. (Images of Harold can be viewed in the gallery).
The family moved to a temporary address in nearby Bampton, where his brother, John was born in 1927. (Apparently, a family member had borrowed money from Ottiwell and not repaid him so the family had to move out of the New Inn).
Ottiwell decided to go back to sea and he joined the White Star Liner, SS "Majestic" which made a regular voyage from Southampton to New York and back.
So, to be near to Southampton, the family moved to a small village called Swanmore, which was about 10 - 12 miles away from the port and was on a main bus route so access was quite easy for him.
When Harold was 5 years old he started school at Swanmore Infants School. His teachers were Mrs Martin and Mrs Wooton.
He remembered having a white pedal racing car for Christmas of 1932.
Harry wrote in July 2001:
" In February 1933 my mother was admitted late at night, (when John and I were both asleep in bed), into Winchester Hospital and died during childbirth which if everything had gone right we would have had a baby sister.
When this happened, my father was away at sea and I remember the next morning (early) someone was already in the house and gave us breakfast - it was a boiled egg - and gave us a letter to take to a Mrs Horner whose husband ran the local garage for John and I to be taken in until my father came back from the sea.
My mother was buried in the local churchyard and my father carried on with his job on the "Majestic", while John and I were looked after by Mrs Horner for the next 2 years, when sadly, my father died of TB in 1935."
At age 7 he was attending the Swanmore Parish School. His teacher was Miss Woolgarth, and the Headmaster was Mr Whittaker.
Around Sept/Oct 1934 the brothers left the Horners and went to live with Mr and Mrs Jarman and their daughter (Una) at ‘South View’ Waltham Chase.
On June 22nd 1935, their dad died aged 45 years at Eastleigh Hospital. He was buried at Swanmore church yard on opposite side of pathway to where their mum was buried.
At the age of 9, Harry and his brother, John, aged 7, were made orphans.
The boys left Swanmore in July to stay with Grandma Wood and Auntie Vicki & Uncle and cousin Peter Bamford at 33 Holland Road, New Brighton, Wallasey. Then throughout August - October they lived with Jack and Gertie Bishop at Dinorbin Arms, Bodfari in Wales and attended the local school.
Then in October they started to live with Mr and Mrs Casburn and their son, Les, at 77 Dalmorton Road, New Brighton, Wallasey. Harold attended Vaughn Road School.
In June 1936, the brothers were admitted to Royal Liverpool Seamens Orphanage at Newsham Park, Liverpool. The Headmaster was Reggie Barker, and Masters Mr Roberts (Gobbo), Mr Jones (Taffy), Mr Roscoe Jones, Mr Nial T Crane, Mr Bennett (Plum).
The Summer holiday that year was spent either with the Casburns at New Brighton or with Grandma Johnson at Eastham.
In 1937, Harold, aged 12, was still in the RLSO at Newsham Park. Summer holiday spent at Stricklands farm, Witherslack (Westmorland) with his brother John, Frank Hughes and Harry Nicholson, Mr and Mrs Tom Mollinson and their daughter Irene.
In 1938 aged 13, Harold was still in the RLSO at Newsham Park. He spent the summer holiday with Uncle Henry and Auntie Hilda at Hazel Grove and the last week with the Casburns at New Brighton.
September 3rd 1938 England was at war with Germany. The RLSO was evacuated from Newsham Park, Liverpool to ‘Hillbark’, Frankby, home of Mr E B Royden. The children had temporary accommodation above the garage and then into wooden huts in the paddock.
Harold worked with Sam Cornish (the groom) in the stables and looked after four horses, Bramble – Barney – Nigger and Kismet, plus a donkey.
1940 – aged 14, Harold was still at RLSO at Hilbark and studying for scholarship, but decided he wanted to leave the school. He left on June 21st and made his way to the Casburns at New Brighton.
He started work at Liverpool Post Office as a telegram boy (T161) for a weekly wage of 14 shillings (70p) per week. After deductions and paying his keep he was left with 2 shillings (10p) as pocket money.
November 1st 1940, The Casburns and Harold were bombed out at Dalmorton Road, New Brighton by HE bomb.
He then transferred from Liverpool Post Office to Liscard Post Office in Wallasey. He also served at India Buildings in Water Street, Liverpool.
They moved to Cliff Road, Wallasey – the house was damaged by incendiary bombs but managed to put fires out. Harold then stayed with his Uncle Carlton and Auntie Elsie at Buxton House, Wallasey Village, until this house was bombed on March 12th 1941 with indendiaries and completely burnt out – lost everything except the clothes he stood up in.
Harold found accomodation at ‘Cushendale’, Buffs Lane at Heswall, Wirral in early spring, and transferred to West Kirby Post Office still as a telegram boy.
1942 Working at Birkenhead P.O. in Argyle Street as a telegram boy, then resigned in November to join the Royal Navy in November 1942 aged 16, and signed on from 31st December to 30th January 1943 serving at Chatham RN Barracks (initial training), also at HMS Britannia, Eaton Hall, Nr Chester (Duke of Westminster’s home) because the Royal Naval College had evacuated there from Dartmouth.
1943 – aged 17 from 31st Jan to 4th June served at Royal Marines (HMS Gosling) Lowton St Mary’s, Nr Warrington.
5th June, Harold joined SS Banfora at Greenock and sailed to Reykjavik in Iceland thence to HMA Baldur III at Hvitanes. At the end of Hvalfjordur until 12th July 1944.
(Hvalfjörður (Icelandic: Whale-fjord) is situated in the west of Iceland. The fjord is approximately 30 km long and 5 km wide. The name Hvalfjörður is derived from the large number of whales which could be found and caught there.)
"Nov/Dec saw northern lights for the first time – they were like a white curtain moving & shimmering in the sky. Later I saw them either red, green or orange, but one night only I saw them in different colours floating in the sky".
Snow & ice built up during winter months, Nov – March and roads were impassible - only approach was by boat/drifter/MFV.
1944 – aged 18, on July 13th joined HMS Greenwich from Baldur III and sailed to Scapa Flow. Then went home on leave for 2 weeks with Newfie shipmates, their theme song was – ‘We’ll Rant and We’ll Roar, Like True Newfoundlanders’.
1945 – aged 19 on 9th Jan left HMS Greenwich for HMS Eaglet (Birkenhead). Then joined Combined Operations landing ship (HMS Glenroy) at Greenock and set sail to Colombo, Ceylon (Sri Lanka). Thence to Puttalum (HMS Rajalya) Jungle Fleet Air Arm base with metal strip runway in jungle clearing.
August Japanese surrendered and Harold returned to Colombo. December 3rd – joined SS Fort Edmonton (Victualling store and issue ship) VSIS and set sail for Singapore – used Japanese troops as working parties prior to their repatriation back to Japan. Cleared the island of Japanese soldiers before Christmas.
Harold was invited to Changhi jail by Aussie war crimes judge to watch hangings but declined. Ship based at Saletar naval base in Strait of Jahore.
1946 – aged 20 in March 1946, he sailed from Singapore to Sydney Australia and docked alongside at Sydney Cove before moving to No 4 Walsh Bay.
The first day in Sydney was a Sunday so had a look around the City Centre and then boarded a ferry at Circular Quay and went to Manly Beach – then took a bus to Taronga Park Zoo and finally arrived back on board ship.
Harold met Jane Morgan, a nurse from Gladesville Hospital who lived near Newcastle in New South Wales. Harold was introduced to her parents and family and stayed for Sunday lunch/dinner. He remembered having roast dinner including pumpkin veg, then he returned to Sydney by train.
Harold then joined the aircraft Carrier HMS Formidable for passage back to UK, arriving at Portsmouth and went home on leave, returning to Chatham Barracks for demobilisation on 15th November.
1947- aged 21, Harold was released from Royal Navy on January 11th. In February, he joined HMS Aisne, a battle class destroyer at Vickers Armstrong shipbuilders, Walker on Tyne. By June, HMS Aisne was on the Copenhagen cruise, Stockholm cruise.
Harold met Evalyn for the first time at Weymouth whilst HMS Aisne was on the buoy at Portland Harbour, about November time. Later joined battleship HMS Howe at Portland, part of training squadron. Ship visited Portree on Isle of Skye and then sailed to River Clyde for July Kings review of Fleet. On September 16th HMS Aisne alongside at Chatham Dockyard.
June 1948 – aged 22 Harold was on HMS Victorious which acted as guardship to Olympic Games yachting events at Torbay.
On October 8th, married Evalyn Marie Jay Christopher Windlowat Crosby, Liverpool register office, and spent Christmas at 5 Belle Vue, Weymouth.
1949- aged 23 Harold left Portland on HMS Victorious and sailed up through Irish Sea. Ran into very fierce storm which did much damage to the ship. Put into Belfast Lough for shelter but had to continue through Pentland Firth and arrive at Rosyth to meet Russian ships being returned to US. Then joined HMS Swiftsure, a cruiser – then returned to Weymouth and started work with the Maypole Diary Co in St Mary Street (March/April). First child was born at Portwey Hospital.
1950 – aged 24 Harold was still with the Maypole in Weymouth. In April he was promoted to branch manager at the MDC Stony Street, Frome. They then moved to ‘Fairhaven’, Old Ford Hill, near Gypsey Lane, Frome.
1951 – 1953 Second child born born at Portway Hospital Weymouth. Harold continued at MDC Frome until April 1953 when he began at the Maypole training centre at Powick Court, Worcester as assistant to the Principle (Thomas Bellis).
1954 – aged 28 On June 23rd, he passed AGI at Bromsgrove with distinction in provisions, and by October he had left Powick Court and had moved to Coventry to take over the Maypole at 155 Daventry Road, Cheylesmore, Coventry.
1958 aged 32 Harold took over ex private shop for MDC at Coventry Road, South Yardley, Birmingham, until 1959 when he resigned from MDC Ltd to start his own business trading as E Blakeman, 102 Moseley Avenue, Coundon, Coventry as Grocer & Provision Merchant.
1960 Harold passed his driving test on March 28th, and continued to live and trade
at Moseley Avenue. 3rd child born at Gulson Road Hospital.
November 28th 1964 - aged 38 he sold his business to E Laxon & Co Ltd. Then he worked for McClains at Baginton Road, Coventry.
1965 – aged 39 Harold was managing the McClains grocery store at 25 Princethorpe Way, Binley, Coventry, until July 1967. In August 1967 he started as a sales rep with Golden Wonder Ltd crisps and nuts.
June 1974 - aged 48 Harold resigned from Golden Wonder Ltd and commenced employment with Goldwell Ltd of East Malling, Maidstone, as sales rep for the midlands area. On September 1st he was promoted to regional sales manager covering the midlands, and southwest England and Wales.
1980 –aged 54 On 23rd March, Harold attended the RLSO re-union at Adelphi Hotel, Liverpool with John. Reggie Barker (Head Master) was in attendance.
March 1983 – aged 57 Harold was made redundant from Goldwell and in November he started as a self employed salesman with John Chapman selling Maid Aid glass washers, which didn't last long.
January 1985 – aged 59 Harold started as a self employed salesman with Godiva Bar Supplies of Coventry.
Throughout these years Harold and Evelyn spent holidays abroad together, mainly in Weymouth, Jersey or France.
1987 – aged 61 August – had a weeks holiday at St Malo (Brittany) stopping at the Grotte Aux Fees Hotel. This was their last holiday together before Evalyn was taken into Walsgrave Hospital in November and died due to heart attack (aged 62). Her funeral took place on December 9th and her ashes were laid to rest at Binley church.
1988 First Grandchild born
August – on holiday - stopped at the Hotel De Normandie at Ouistreham Nr Caen. Was taken ill at Caen and admitted to University Hospital for a week suffering with high blood pressure.
1989 Harold went on holiday with Richard to Bruges with Shearings Coach tour and later he also went to Weymouth and called to see John on way back.
1990 – aged 64 1 weeks holiday at Wadham House Hotel, Weymouth and called to see John on way home.
1991 – aged 65 1 weeks holiday at Wadham House Hotel, Weymouth and called to see John on way home.
December 20th – Richard married at Wolston Parish Church Near Coventry, reception at Ashton Lodge.
1992 – aged 66 1 weeks holiday at Wadham House Hotel, Weymouth and called to see John on way home.
1993 – aged 67
March - 2nd grandchild born at Walsgrave Hospital
1 weeks holiday at Wadham House Hotel, Weymouth and called to see John on way home and also toured Rhine valley and Black Forest with Shearings coaches. Stopped at Rudisheim and Schonwald.
1994 – aged 68 Toured Mosel Valley in Germany with Shearings and stopped at Bomers Hotel at Alf. 1 weeks holiday at Wadham House Hotel, Weymouth and called to see John on way home.
Katina left home in July 1994 to live with Mark
1995 – aged 69 April – attended Kath & Bob Read’s diamond wedding anniversary at Swanmore with John & Muriel. Met Mimi and Peter Marsh at Kath & Bob’s wedding anniversary (last saw them in 1947).
Holiday – 1 week in Harz Mountains in Germany – stayed at hotel in Goslar with Shearings coaches and took 1 weeks holiday at Wadham House, Weymouth.
1996 – aged 70 July 16th, John and Anita Meyer & family meeting at Coventry Cathedral then on to Warwick Castle. Evening spent at the Bull Inn Weston under Wetherley where we had dinner.
Last holiday Harold took was in June to Amsterdam with Shearings coaches.
April 1997 – aged 71 became showroom manager at Godiva.
Jaki married John
1998 – aged 72 January 26th - February 11th, Walsgrave Hospital for operation on artery by pass to left foot. Stopped smoking. Restarted work on March 16th.
2000 – aged 74 January 1st, Godiva Bar Supplies and Robey Walker amalgamated to form Godiva Walker Ltd. The Showroom & offices moved across the yard to building opposite. Harold rearranged the showroom during the re-organisation.
December 29th retired from Godiva Walker after 16 years service
2001 – aged 75 Harold said that he "Had to adjust to living on pension only".
April 24th – contacted cousin Roy Wood, now living in Bradford.
April 25th – contacted cousin Maureen in Wallasey.
This led to the Wood family re-union in Wallasey on September 8th:
in attendance – Harold Wood & family, John Wood & family, Roy Wood & partner, Maureen Wood & family, Richard Wood & family, Katina Wood & Mark, Jaki, John & Emma.
October – started computer lessons at Brandon IT School (Rugby College). Passed word processing course, City & Guilds standard, which led to purchasing his first computer on December 1st.
2002 – aged 76 January – Brandon IT School, internet course plus email. Finished IT course on April 17th.
January – restarted at Godiva Walker on part time basis.
June 24th – Godiva Walker moved from St Nicholas Street/Sandy Lane to Kingfield Road.
2003 – aged 77 Nov 1st, John & Anita Meyer came over from Las Vegas – stopped at the Holiday Inn on Hinckley Road and came over to my house. John loaded my PC with family history.
2006 – aged 80 Ocober 1st – phoned Maureen Spivey (first cousin) Uncle Rider’s daughter and sent birth certificates etc. She phone me back on Sunday October 15th – had long conversation regarding Wood family.
October 10th Thea phoned from Gosport (John’s house) and had a long chat and exchanged email addresses etc. and will be keeping in touch with one another – last time we met was about 60 years ago.
2007 aged 81 May 19th – Wood family gathering at the Woodhouse Hotel Princethorpe in attendance my first cousin Maureen Spivey and rest of John Rider Wood descendants.
2008 – aged 82 March 31st – now fully retired from Godiva Walker – presented with a basket of flowering spring bulbs and retirement card signed by all the staff.
April 7th at about 2.05pm he passed away.
Harold Lovell Wood, 1926 – 2008.
Rest in Peace