The Marriage of Harold MERRICK and Joyce WOOLLACOTT on the 11th February 1943.
In the Photograph from left to right:
Katherine MERRICK (my Grandmother), Ethel HUNT (Mum's Friend), Reg COOMBES, Harold MERRICK (My Dad), Joyce WOOLLACOTT (My Mum), Beatrice WOOLLACOTT (My Grandmother), Joyce COOMBES (Dad's sister), Frederick WOOLLACOTT (My Grandfather).
The Wedding took place at St John the Baptist Church, Weston-super-Mare and the reception was held at Brown Bros Cafe, 25-26, High Street where this photograph was taken on the roof – you can see Weston Woods in the background.
The War touched many of those featured in this photo. At the time of the Wedding the groom was a Leading Steward serving in the Royal Navy and the bride was employed painting ailerons on Beaufighters being built at the local aircraft factory.
The groom’s sister, Joyce COOMBES (one of the bridesmaids) was an ARP warden at Worle. It is clear from the photograph that Reg COOMBES is also in uniform but we are unsure of where he served. Reg and Joyce had been married in Weston in 1941.
The bride’s mother Beatrice WOOLLACOTT lost two nephews during the war. Arthur Ernest WEBBER was engaged to Ethel HUNT (the other bridesmaid), but he had died as a Prisoner of War in Singapore at the notorious Changi prison camp in 1942 while his brother, Charles Edward WEBBER also a POW, died a few months later on the Burma-Siam railway in Thailand.
More details about Harold MERRICK’s war service can be found from local newspapers in Weston Library. In 1941 he had taken part in the Battle of Cape Matapan in the Mediterranean. Later, in March 1942, when serving on board the cruiser H.M.S. Naiad it was torpedoed; he describes surviving by clinging to a raft and was fortunate to survive. There is a picture of some of the crew and more information about this ship on http://www.hmsnaiad.co.uk/naiad_dido.html
He was posted to the Aircraft Carrier H.M.S. Victorious and there were four other Weston men serving alongside him. Petty Officer R.R.SHORT of Southend Road, Chief Petty Officer T.H.COLBURN of Belgrave Road, Stoker C.GRIFFITHS of the Boulevard and Stoker J.PAYNE of High Street, Worle. Just after VE Day in May 1945 the Victorious was hit twice in unexpected Kamikaze attacks by Japanese pilots. The first damaged the Flight Deck and equipment but the second failed to explode. However, 3 were killed and 19 of ship's company injured. The Weston men survived.
After the war Harold MERRICK was employed by C & J Clark Ltd., the shoe manufacturers and later by the GPO and postmen formed a guard of honour at his funeral in Weston Cemetery.