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Harold Oglethorpe was born in August 1896 in the same month as his good friend John Pool. He was the only surviving child of John and Tamar Oglethorpe who tragically lost their twins John Walater and Isabel in 1898 when they were just 7 weeks old. His father John was a blacksmith at Greenside Mine, and his grandfather (also John) had also worked at Greenside as a lead mining agent and timekeeper having moved from Penrith. Harold would have gone to Patterdale School alongside his elder cousin Ernest Lake (who mother was Harold’s father’s sister), John Pool and many others on the roll of honour. When he left school he followed in his father and grandfather’s footsteps and began working at Greenside Mine.
We have been unable to find any trace of Harold’s Service Records but it is likely that he joined up around the same time as John Pool and many others at the end of 1915 as part of the Derby Scheme. Harold enlisted in the Army Service Corps and was posted to France, where he served for the rest of the war. All we know of his time in the war is a story told to the son of John Pool by Harold of how, after becoming separated from his unit following a brutal attack, he made his way back to the British Lines and came across a unit of the Bengal Lancers. Like his father he was a skilled farrier, and and ended up working for them for some time before he finally rejoined his own unit.
Harold returned home and continued to work at Greenside Mine, having a highly successful career as an engineer and inventing many devices that both improved life at the mines and also earned him some extra money. He married Ada Palmer from Penrith in 1936 and they continued to live at Row Head in Glenridding. One of the mineworkers at Greenside who learnt his skills from Harold was Eddie Pool, John Pool’s son. Harold was also involved with Patterdale School, and was one of the School Managers who appointed John Scoon as headmaster (the nephew of Jack Watson, and still a resident of Patterdale). Harold’s parents both died just before the outbreak of World War Two are are buried at Patterdale Church.
At the end of his career at Greenside Harold assisted in the Operation Orpheus experiments carried out by the UK Atomic Weapons Research Establishment (AWRE) at Greenside. More details on this can be found on the Patterdale Today website. In their retirement Harold and Ada continued to live at Raw Head, where he had been born. Ada died in October 1976, and Harold died on the 29th September 1983 aged 87.
If you can add anything to the story of Harold or his family please contact us.
Private Harold Oglethorpe
M2/167420 Royal Army Service Corps
Born August 1896, Glenridding. Died September 1983 Aged 87.
Son of John and Tamar Mary (nee Jackson) Oglethorpe, Raw Head Glenridding
Married Ada Palmer in 1936
Harold hard at work in later life -
Harold’s father John (on the left) with John and George Brown in the 1920s – The Three Blacksmiths for Greenside Mine
Harold and Ada’s grave in Patterdale Church