Thomas Henry Griffin
Thomas Henry Griffin, known as Harry, was born in the autumn of 1880 in Saul, one of the eight children of William Griffin and Emily Jane née Balch. His father was a waterman and the family lived close to his work on the canal variously in Saul and Framilode. Harry was a mariner too and on 27 August 1902 he married Beatrice Eveline, the sister of Thomas Ernest Sims, at St John's Church, Gloucester. By 1911, they were living on The Green in Frampton. Before the war four of their five surviving children were born: Edith Emily Rose, Evelyn Georgina Annie, Freda Dora Elsie and Georgina Kate. Henry William George arrived in 1917.
On 3 September 1914 Harry voluntarily enlisted for the Army at Tewkesbury. He was posted to the 9th (Service) Battalion of the Gloucestershire Regiment. Harry kept a diary during his period of service, of which parts have been transcribed into our book Frampton Remembers World War I. It gives an interesting insight into his everyday life which is only summarised here. It was not until 19 September 1915 that Harry's battalion left the UK for France as part of the British Expeditionary Force. He spent less than two months there before being transferred to the Mediterranean Expeditionary Force on 11 November. In the Balkan theatre he worked in the trenches until 28 February 1916 when he was hospitalised with nephritis (kidney inflammation), the initial journey of four or five miles being on a mule-drawn sledge. Harry was shipped to Malta where he was also diagnosed with neurasthenia (a form of chronic fatigue). He stayed in hospital until 19 June when he was considered strong enough to make the journey to England where he continued to be hospitalised until 16 April 1917. Harry's granddaughter recalls him saying that it was Marmite that kept him alive in Salonika!
At this point his professional capabilities seem to have been recognised. He was transferred to the Inland Water Transport Branch of the Royal Engineers to be employed as a lighterman, a move which clearly suited Harry who, by 25 October, was rated as 'skilled', awarded additional Engineer Pay, and posted to the major naval base at Taranto in Italy. On 25 April 1918 he was upgraded to 'superior' skills and a higher pay rate, followed by appointment to acting lance corporal on 1 June. Despite a fractured wrist later that month (having fallen on a slippery deck), he was soon appointed substantive lance corporal, and then further upgraded to 'very superior' skills on 1 November with a further pay rise. He was repatriated on 16 February 1919 and transferred to the Army Reserve on 17 March. He was awarded the 1914-15 Star, British War Medal and Victory Medal and his service is commemorated on the plaque in the village hall.
During the war, like so many servicemen, Harry missed his wife, Eveline, a great deal and his diary begins with a poem for her. After the war Harry returned to Frampton and resumed work as a waterman; on one occasion he survived a sinking in the river when he lost all of his possessions. In our Gallery Harry is pictured with Eveline and their granddaughter, Christine, outside their cottage in The Street (now the site of ‘Bendles’). Thomas Henry Griffin died on 26 July 1957 and was buried in St Mary's churchyard.