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Sunday, 3 January 2010

Gunner H H TELFER 239095 Royal Field Artillery

On my Christmas break in Christchurch I caught up with my aunt and uncle. The conversation turned to things historical as they do!

My Uncle brought out to the kitchen the British War and Victory medals his Uncle Harold had earned for being a soldier in the ROYAL FIELD ARTILLERY serving at the Ypres Salient. These had been put on a swing mount and had a metal name bar to sit above the medals. Engraved on the bar was H H TELFER. I asked my uncle what Harold's full name was and he didn't know, so I presumed it must be something akin to Harold Henry...how wrong I was!

H H Telfer's medals on his bible


My uncle also brought out Harold's wallet with hand embroidering; his bible; a newspaper clipping about him retiring after 42 years as a butcher [see further down]; a couple of his uniform embellishments and a letter dated 1920 written to Harold by a nephew. Out came also, a photo of Harold outside his butcher shop in Hexham, Northumberland, Christmas 1924...



We chatted for a while about Harold and I suggested I try to learn more about him as my uncle didn't know a lot. Harold was married to my uncles mothers sister and they lived in England, whereas my uncle was born and lives in New Zealand.

After returning to Auckland from Christchurch last night, I got stuck in to finding more about Harold. After 5 hours research I had amassed quite a bit of information on him from the free BMD website; ancestry.com for census records; National Archives UK and various other sites.

I now have the following basic information, but most importantly I discovered from his medal card his name was Hodgson Harold TELFER!...he was...
  • Born 1884, Bellingham, Northumberland. Seems he was known as Harold rather than Hodgson.

  • A Butcher by trade from at least the age of 16 according to the 1901 census .

  • His father was James TELFER born 1842 and baptised at Birdhope Craig Presbyterian Church, he to was a butcher of Bellingham and Hexham

  • Harold [or Hodgson's] mother was probably Eliza Anetta or Johannah nee HODGSON [this would certainly explain Hodgson's unusual forename]. These two are sisters who married at the same time in September 1881, possibly a double wedding. One of them married James, the other married a Roger SMITH. Both these women died within a year of each other - I suspect Hodgsons mother is possibly Johannah, as Hodgsons youngest sister Johanna was born 1889 around the time of death of both these women, so possibly named after her mother who may have died in childbirth or shortly thereafter. The Hodgson sisters were the daughters of William and Elizabeth HODGSON. William according to the 1871 census was a farmer and Innkeeper of the Black Bull Inn at Bellingham.

  • Harold married Margaret GOWANS date unknown, although Harold was single at the time of the 1911 census. I have searched up until 1930 for his marriage but haven't found it...i'll have to hunt again, probably easily overlooked.

  • His siblings were William Stanley b1882 and Johanna b1889.
  • [Hodgson] Harold Telfer died 1967 aged 82 in the Northumberland West district [Vol 1b page 441].

Newspaper clipping of Harold's retirement

So yes, I'm quite pleased with the amount of information I have already. It's a great start! Upon seaching google I happened upon a fellow in Hamilton, New Zealand who is an agricultural journalist and was born in Bellingham just like Harold was! He has given me a few contacts I can persue. What a small world it certainly is :-)


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