Letter in the Attic

Letters of Lance-Corporal Ray Harris (1913-2001), 7th Armoured Division of the 8th army

About this contribution:

Description

Digital scans of 19 letters from Ray Harris to his future wife, Doreen Sellman, plus scans of miscellaneous items including photographs, posters for performances, two letters from Max Miller, and a letter from Donald Peers, who was a well-known singer in the 1930s. The letters have been selected from a family archive which contains about 200 such letters written on war service.

Biographical information

Ray Harris (1913-2001) was born in Croughton, Northamptonshire, and brought up in Oxfordshire. His father, Frank Harris, was an entertainer and RH helped with his father's shows as a child. Before the war, he worked as a salesman with Lawson's at 24, Gloucester Place, Brighton and as an entertainer.

During the Second World War he served as a tank driver with the 7th Armoured Division of the 8th Army, the Desert Rats. He was involved in the North African campaign seeing action at El Alamein, the landings at Sicily and the Italian mainland and drove a tank onto Sword Beach, Normandy on D-day, 6 June 1944.

He was the producer and main comedian in a concert party called the Jerboa Strollers, which gave over 400 performances in the desert. His speciality was an impression of Max Miller and he performed on a number of occasions at the Abbassia Opera House, Cairo. He was also involved in ENSA shows in Holland.

During the course of the war, Ray Harris wrote about 200 letters to his future wife, Doreen Sellman (1920-2006) describing his experiences. He proposed marriage in the course of the letters in which there are numerous references to Brighton.

Name of creator(s)

Harris, Ray, 1913-2001, of Brighton, entertainer

Dates covered by the material

1932-1945

Extent and form of the material

28 digital scans

Access conditions

Open

Originals

Digital scans of 19 letters and 9 other items have been donated to the East Sussex Record Office and are listed here. The original collection of 200 letters remains with RH's daughter, Jenny Hall.

Comments

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Reference

LIA/8

Images of this contribution:

Image: Ray Harris performing with the Jerboa Strollers concert party at Jerboa Bay, near Tobruk, Libya, 1942
Ray Harris performing with the Jerboa Strollers concert party at Jerboa Bay, near Tobruk, Libya, 1942