Lots of words can be used to describe my uncle - a joiner, soldier, Dunkirk survivor, a skilled do-it-yourselfer, productive gardener, keen photographer, sailor - and ballroom dancer.
This week's prompt photograph from Sepia Saturday features a little lad, c. early 20th century, making a salute. It I immediately brought to mind the first photograph | have of Harry.
Harry Rawcliffe Danson (1912-2001) was the middle child of five, born to my grandparents William Danson and Alice English in Poulton-le-Fylde, Lancashire. His middle name came from his grandmother Maria Danson, nee Rawcliffe. The photograph above is the only one I have of him as a child, and is part of a group photograph of the family, taken in 1916, as my grandfather set out to war.
Harry followed his grandfather into becoming a joiner. and I remember him making a miniature table and chairs for my doll’s house. Not surprisingly he was skilled in do-it yourself.
My next knowledge of Harry was from his army photographs.
Young man around town - look at that hairstyle!
The reverse of the photograph indicates it was taken in Salisbury -
when Harry was undergoing Army training?
| A formal Army photograph.|
| I think there is an Errol Flynn look about him here! |
This signed menu of December 25th 1939, written in French and typed on very flimsy paper, was found after his death amongst Uncle Harry's papers. He was in France with the British Expeditionary Force, 9/17th Field Battery. In the Sergeant's Mess, breakfast was cold ham with piccalilli, eggs, coffee and roll and butter; for dinner - turkey with chestnuts, pork with apple sauce, potatoes, and cauliflower followed by Christmas pudding, apples, oranges, and nuts, with cognac, rum and beer - a wonderful feast in difficult conditions and testimony to the skill of the catering corps!
Five months later Harry was one of the many men evacuated from Dunkirk, saved by the flotilla of small ships. Sadly many of the men who were at this meal may not have survived. My mother used to tell how Harry arrived back home from Dunkirk still in the uniform in which he entered the sea to be rescued. He never talked about his wartime experiences, but seeing commemoration services or documentaries on TV could bring tears to his eyes, so the memories remained very strong.
Harry later served in North Africa.
Harry had a short lived marriage in the 1940's and never remarried. He returned to his joinery trade after the war and continued to live in the home of his childhood, renovating the house, and taking pride in his garden, I recall him taking his sister out for a Sunday run in his motor cycle and side car. He then progressed to a car, extending the driveway, and turning the former hen house into a garage. He also had a small yacht which he sailed off the Fleetwood coast. Living in Blackpool the natural home of ballroom dancing in the UK, Harry enjoyed a lot of time on the dance floor at the Winter Gardens or on the Tower Ballroom - and he was never short of partners!
With a good friend, neighbour & dance partner, c.1970's. Harry was a keen photographer, at one time having his own dark room to develop pictures. He took this photograph of St. Chad's Church, Poulton-le-Fylde, noted for its carpet of crocuses in Spring. Dansons back to 1736 were baptised, married and buried here. Harry lived to the age of 89, remaining active to the end of his life - and he retained his good looks!
Harry Rawcliffe Danson (1912-2001) Based on a blog profile first published in 2012 ************** to share their family history through photographs. “