Major Hamish Murray Sproull Royal Artillery
The Man James Murray Sproull was born on 21st April 1904 at Sun Vale, Luddendenfoot, Calderdale in Yorkshire, son of James, a Physician and Catherine Marion. He was one of five children, Derrick born in 1908, Barbara 1910, Ian McDougal 1911 – who was killed in 1941 during World War II aged 30 and is commemorated on the Harrogate War Memorial, and an another unknown sibling who died very young. James was Baptised on 29th September 1904 in Luddendenfoot, the ceremony performed by Francis E A Mullett. By the 1911 census James’ name had been changed to Hamish the Anglicised form of the Scottish Gaelic Seumas: which is the equivalent to the English James. The family were living at Wayside House, Luddednfoot with Emily Hartland a Domestic Nurse and Elizabeth Beecher a general servant. No detail is known about Hamish’s education or later employment, but aged 23 he sailed for New Zealand returning from Wellington aboard the SS Port Victor, a ship of the Commonwealth & Dominion Line under the Master R H Swan, arriving back at the Port of London on 8th June 1927. By 1928 Hamish was living with his parents at 29 Swan Road in Harrogate, still living there in the second quarter of 1936 when he married Gladys Margaret Horrocks in Knaresborough, then moving to Flat 9a in York Road. They had two children, Keith Anthony J born on 3rd May 1942 and Hamish Alistair Charles born in 1938 and both in Knaresborough, Keith sadly dying young in 1973. At some point prior to world War II Hamish joined the Army and was promoted to Battery Sergeant Major, being granted an Emergency Commission as 2nd Lieutenant on 5th May 1941 aged 36 with service number 185236 and with the 64th Regiment Royal Artillery Heavy Anti Aircraft Battery and later the 153 (Medium) Heavy Anti Aircraft Regiment RA. It appears that possibly due to age Hamish served ‘at home’ during the War and promoted to War Substantive Lieutenant and Temporary Captain. He was awarded the Defence Medal and War Medal 1939-45 for his war time service.
In 1949 he transferred to the Territorial Army Royal Artillery and promoted to Major on 3rd May 1949. In the London Gazette dated 7th July 1950 he was awarded the Efficiency Medal 'Territorial' named as Captain. His four years war service counting double plus the extra four years from 1945-49. On 28th November 1952, aged 53 Hamish was transferred from the active list to the TA Reserve of Officers. 16 months later on 30th March 1955 aged 55 he retired from the TA as having exceeded the age limit of liability to recall. It seems Hamish and Gladys divorced at some point, as during 1960 he sailed again for New Zealand, returning from Auckland aboard the Athenic, part of the Shaw Savill Line arriving at London on 2nd December 1960, and having travelled with a Mary Sproull. It is unknown if Mary was a relative or the surname a coincidence, in any event they were married during the second quarter of 1969 at Bridgewater in Somerset. Hamish and Mary visited New Zealand again in 1973 departing Auckland bound for London on 1st May 1973, aboard the SS Gladstone Star under its Master Captain E J Jones. By 1976 Hamish and Mary were living at The Paddock Lodge, Kirk Deighton in Wetherby. During the third quarter of 1979 aged 75 Hamish died at Claro in Yorkshire, both Gladys and Mary outliving him; Gladys died in December 1991 and Mary in April 1987 aged 89.
The Story. The medal trio awarded to Hamish Murray Sproull were acquired from Ian Laidler at the Birmingham Medal Society Convention in Knowle on 4th June 2016. They were of interest due to the Efficiency Medal, the fact there was a photograph of Hamish contained within the lot and their simplicity. The usual trawl of Ancestry.UK and the London Gazette allowed the above biography to be completed. Interestingly subsequent research revealed that Hamish's son - Hamish Alistair Charles may still be alive and living in Harrogate. Enquiries are ongoing to try and make contact.
Hamish Murray Sproull's Medal Award Certificate for Defence & British War Medals
- Defence Medal: Unnamed as issued.
- War Medal 1939-45: Unnamed as issued.
- Efficiency Medal: CAPT. H.M.SPROULL. R.A.
This page last updated 14 Jun 16