History

This Date in History: Harry Potter Killed on Road to Hebron

Real-life British soldier Harry Potter is buried in Israel.

24.7.16, 17:32
(Photo: Grave of Harry Potter in Ramle. Credit: Ramla Municipality.)
 
On July 22, 1938, Private Harry Potter of the British armed forces was killed during what was called the Arab Uprising. An armed band ambushed the British convoy as they drove to the Deir Sha'ar base near Hebron.
 
He was buried in the British cemetery in the city of Ramle where his tombstone reads:
 
"In Memory of No. 5251351 Private Harry Potter. 1st Bn. The Worcestershire Regt. Killed in action at Hebron on 22 - 7 - 1939. Aged 19 years 10 months."
 
The real-life Harry Potter shares the same name as the popular fictional character of the best selling Harry Potter novels by British writer J. K. Rowling.
 
Since the release of the books, the once obscure graveyard began receiving intrigued visitors. In 2010, with the release of the film Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows - Part 1, articles were written about the phenomenon on the real-life Harry Potter including interviews with his siblings.
 
The mayor of Ramle has invited the family to visit.
 
Regarding the Arab Revolt in which Potter was killed, according to The Banality of Brutality: British Armed Forces and the Repression of the Arab Revolt in Palestine, 1936–39 by Matthew Hughes, "by the time it concluded in September 1939, more than 5,000 Arabs, over 300 Jews, and 262 Britons had been killed and at least 15,000 Arabs were wounded." The Hebron Hills region was particularly known for violent residents.
 
The revolt involved such well-known figure as Haj Amin al-Husseini, and Syrian-born Izz ad-Din al-Qassam.
 
The British Military Cemetery in Ramle (also spelled Ramla) where Potter is buried is one of six British burial places established in Israel after World War I. Also buried there is the grandson of Baron Edmond de Rothschild.
 
Potter's army base was in an area then known as Deir Sha'ar, where "Russian Monastery Hill" is located. In 1892 the Russian Orthodox Church was built. After the 1929 Hebron massacre, many of the the survivors fled to Deir Sha'ar.  It was destroyed during the War of Independence in 1948 by the Jordanian Legion. 
 
The Jerusalem Post in 2010 published an article regarding the phenomenon of visitors stating, "it's a type of pilgrimage for a man whose name stands out. If you didn't say that Harry Potter was buried here, no one would come here," referring to the working-class city which rarely gets in the news. Ramle attracts many tourists due to its archaeological ruins and central location.
 
The Worcestershire Regiment website has a tribute article which contains a letter Potter sent home.
 
Shortly before Harry Potter was killed he wrote the letter below to his mother, which sadly arrived the day after the family were told of his death.
 
"Dear Mother,
 
In answer to your letter, I am getting on alright. I expect to be home for Christmas. If I am not it is a bit of bad luck.
At present I am in a place we call The Pumpet.  We have not got a lot of work to do at present and I hope you are alright. I hope dad is still in work.  Tell Ken (his six year old brother) I am not forgetting his bike. I hope Alice (his older sister) is alright. We have been going swimming a lot lately. You perhaps have been reading the papers. I am not boasting but listen to the news on the wireless and listen to what work we in the Worcestershires have been doing. Well, I think that is all for now.
 
Cheerio - Crash Harry."
 
SOURCE NOTES:
 
* Deir Sha'ar, site of British army outpost - Gush Etzion tourist center
 
To arrange a guided tour of Hebron contact us.
United States contact info:

http://www.hebronfund.org
1760 Ocean Avenue
Brooklyn, NY 11230
718-677-6886
info@hebronfund.org

In Israel contact the offices of the Jewish Community of Hebron at:
http://en.hebron.org.il/
02-996-5333
office@hebron.com
Facebook: http://www.facebook.com/hebronofficial
 
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