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Thread: Lt Guy Harris, Met Officer of the airship R34 during its 2-way Atlantic crossing

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    Default Lt Guy Harris, Met Officer of the airship R34 during its 2-way Atlantic crossing

    Apologies for the lengthy thread title.

    I'm attempting to construct the military career of Lt Guy Harris who was associated with the RAF's development of airships between 1919 and 1920.

    Harris was born on 6 September 1884, location unknown but in 1919 he and his wife were living in Birmingham.
    There is some evidence that he was working in the Met Office in London circa 1910-1911, but he did not start his military career until 28 August 1917 when he was commissioned as a Sub-Lieutenant in the RNAS and posted to Howden Airship Station (AS) for meteorological duties.

    On promotion to Lieutenant when transferred to the RAF on 15 August 1918 he remained at Howden. On 25 March 1919 he sailed to Canada on the SS Montcalm to demonstrate the feasibility of flying kites to obtain upper air information in anticipation of RAF airship flights across the Atlantic; he continued the experimental work on the return voyage, docking in Glasgow on 1 May.

    His next posting was to South Fortune AS where, on 2 July, he was the meteorologist on the R34 as it began its flight to the US. After a three day stop the R34 returned to the UK, landing at Pulham AS on 13 July. Harris was awarded the AFC for his contribution to the successful flight.

    I think his military career ended on 13 Jan 1920 as his service record advises his transfer to 'M' List

    Could I ask (1) What the 'M' List was and (2) does his name appear in any subsequent Air Force List as, to all intents and purposes, he disappears from the face of the earth.

    Brian

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    Default Re: Lt Guy Harris, Met Officer of the airship R34 during its 2-way Atlantic crossing

    Brian

    Dr. Guy Harris, D.Sc., Ph.D features in a small article in the Sydney Morning Herald of February 17th 1932:

    https://trove.nla.gov.au/newspaper/article/16841290

    Trove also has some magazine articles relating to him:

    Wireless Weekly, October 9th 1931:

    "20,000 ft. above the earth"

    https://nla.gov.au/nla.obj-721367783...ge/n8/mode/1up

    Wireless Weekly, May 1st 1931:

    https://nla.gov.au/nla.obj-665489812...ge/n9/mode/1up


    Regards

    Simon
    Last edited by wwrsimon; 11th August 2023 at 16:12.
    Researching R.A.F. personnel from the North East of England

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    Default Re: Lt Guy Harris, Met Officer of the airship R34 during its 2-way Atlantic crossing

    Hi Brian,

    Possibly a little more. Working backwards from his AIR 76, your man (b. 06 Sep 1884) was transferred to the RAF on 14 Aug 1918, previously RNVR Temp Sub-Lt since 28 Aug 17 (ADM 337) - and prior to that, he was F16951, enlisted 19 Jun 16 in RNAS (ADM 188).

    That last record matches his birth date and states he was born in Penzance, Cornwall, and peacetime occupation was Accountant.

    This tallies with FreeBMD, which shows a Guy Harris born Penzance as one of two Guy Harris' born in that year, albeit registered in Q4 (the other, Guy Summerell Harris, b. Carlisle).

    The 1911 census has a Guy Harris, b. 1885 at Newlyn, Cornwall. Newlyn is right next to Penzance, so seems likely to be him. Occupation: Merchant's Clerk, for a corn and flour merchant, and boarding in Newton Nottage, Porthcawl.

    Going back to 1901 and 1891, he appears in the same household in Edgbaston aged 16 and 6. Using the Newlyn connection, it appears that he was christened at St. Peter's, Newlyn, on 24 Jun 1885, son of Edwin and Annie Harris, which seems to tie up with the names in the census records.

    Hopefully some of this is new to you

    Regards,

    Jeff

    ETA: I have found what may be a death, based on Simon's links to 'Dr. Guy Harris, D.Sc., Ph.D' also in Trove. Dr. Guy Harris, D.Sc., Ph.D, d. 24 Apr 1952 in Matraville, Randwick, NSW, and interred 26 Apr 1952. I can't find any further corroboration - a second entry for the same man on the same page has 'dearly beloved husband of Vera aged 62 years' when he would have been 68 and his (first?) wife was Kate Alice (nee Hillen, m. 29 Jul 1911).
    Last edited by RecklessRat; 11th August 2023 at 20:15. Reason: Death info

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    Default Re: Lt Guy Harris, Met Officer of the airship R34 during its 2-way Atlantic crossing

    My thanks to you both, gentlemen, this is all new to me and you've opened up a load of new lines to follow. The Australian link fits perfectly as they include references to his wartime service. I'd been led to believe that he enlisted having been employed by the Met Office pre-war (hence placing him on met duties) but I can see that was a red herring as he learnt his met in the RNAS (which was more advanced in its thinking than the Met Office). His degrees must have been obtained post-war. I'll see if I can obtain an obituary from the Sydney Morning Herald - or a Sydney library.

    My thanks again.

    Brian

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    Default Re: Lt Guy Harris, Met Officer of the airship R34 during its 2-way Atlantic crossing

    A not too bad pic of the R34 crew - Guy Harris is 3rd from left with Half Wing.
    Picture is from the US Navy History and Heritage Command website...

    https://www.history.navy.mil/our-col.../nh-53147.html



    Pic captioned as -

    Officers who had crossed the Atlantic aboard the R-34, photographed following her arrival at Mineola, New York, on 7 July 1919. They are identified as (from left to right): Lieutenant Commander Zachary Lansdowne, USN, Observer; Lieutenant Wallace Durant, RAF, Wireless Officer (apparently wearing a U.S. Navy uniform); Lieutenant Guy N. Harris, RAF, Meteorlogical Officer; Major J.F.M. Pritchard, RAF; Brigadier General E.M. Maitland, CGM, DWO, British Air Ministry; Lieutenant H.F. Luck, RN, Second Officer; and Lieutanant J.D. Shotter, RN, Engineer Chief. U.S. Naval History and Heritage Command Photograph.

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    Default Re: Lt Guy Harris, Met Officer of the airship R34 during its 2-way Atlantic crossing

    My thanks. BVS. That's an interesting photo in that it may be downloaded free gratis, whilst an almost identical photo from Getty Images would cost between 150 and 350 depending on size! No matter I'm grateful to you for pointing it out.

    I'm almost there now apart from finding when he emigrated to Australia, I'm pretty sure it was circa 1924 or 1925 but I'm working on that.

    Brian

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    Default Re: Lt Guy Harris, Met Officer of the airship R34 during its 2-way Atlantic crossing

    Hello,

    A possibility (no more!), for your G. Harris:

    P & O. S.S. "CHITRAL".
    Sailed: LONDON - 6/11/1925.
    Arrived: FREMANTLE - 8/12/1925.
    Destination: SYDNEY - Arrived - 20/12/1925.
    Mr. G. HARRIS (1 adult, 1st saloon class).
    No further details.

    https://recordsearch.naa.gov.au/Sear...rcode=12256332 see: p.5 of 9.

    Col.
    Last edited by COL BRUGGY; 13th August 2023 at 06:43.

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    Default Re: Lt Guy Harris, Met Officer of the airship R34 during its 2-way Atlantic crossing

    Col

    I think he's Gilbert K. Harris. He's on the Chitral's outward bound passenger manifest of November 6th 1925, avialable on ancestry. From Oulton Cross, Staffordshire, aged 42, and a manufacturer.

    Regards

    Simon
    Researching R.A.F. personnel from the North East of England

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    Default Re: Lt Guy Harris, Met Officer of the airship R34 during its 2-way Atlantic crossing

    Thank you Col and Simon; it's amazing the number of G or Guy Harris's there are. Thanks to Dave (alieneyes) I have what is effectively Harris's own account of his life until the R34 flight (a cutting from the Birmingham Mail dated 31 March 1919), so his departure for Australia is the only piece missing from the jigsaw.

    Brian

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    Default Re: Lt Guy Harris, Met Officer of the airship R34 during its 2-way Atlantic crossing

    Harris was cremated at the Eastern Suburbs Crematorium, Sydney, on 26 April 1952. From the Australian Electoral Rolls he first appears in 1930, working as a geologist in Tamworth, New South Wales. All entries refer to NSW and in by 1937 he appears to have settled in Sydney. He married Vera Elle Steel in Cobar during 1940.

    My big problem remains the date he left the UK. I have to assume he studied geology at university after leaving the Met Office in 1923, possibly a three-year course, which takes me to 1926. The nearest hits I can get from the Australian Immigration Lists is one for 1927, arriving in Melbourne from Tilbury on 29 November on the Osterley; and another in 1928 on the Orford arriving in Sydney on 13 November 1928. In both instances he was travelling alone and I've not been able to find any record of his wife, Kate Alice (#3) leaving the UK, consequently I'm assuming she either died or they divorced.

    Brian

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