War Stories – Sea Mills & Coombe Dingle – Yarnell family

Yarnell Family

The family moved to 72 Coombe Dale in 1928 L-R Gordon, Jim, Norman, Rose & Douglas.

Rose Yarnell

Rose Yarnell – with two American GI’s
These GI’s were billeted at Stoke Park, Stoke Bishop and as Rose was in the Women’s Voluntary Service she befriended them and had them around for occasional home cooked meals.  

Jim and Rosie had three children, Douglas, Gordon and Norman. Douglas and Gordon served in the RAF during WW2. Norman being younger, and having chicken-pox at the time he was eventually drafted did not have to serve. Douglas survived his tour of 30 bomber raids over Europe/Germany (nearly 50% of air crew did not survive a complete tour) returned home to train other British and Colonial air crew before volunteering for a second tour of 30 bomber missions. During the second spell he was awarded a DFM (Distinguished Flying Medal) and survived the conflict. After the war he married Aileen, lived in Patchway, had one daughter, Judith and worked in the printing trade until his retirement in the 1980’s. He died aged 98 in 2016. Norman joined the RAF later in the war, survived, before moving to Formby near Liverpool. Gordon was killed in the Far East.

Jim “Pop” Yarnell

James Yarnell was born in 1887 and grew up in Sussex. On leaving school he became a blacksmith in the stables on the Petworth House Estate. At the outbreak of WW1 he was moved to the Army Remount Depot near Shirehampton Station where he was a farrier.

Thousands of horses and mules were brought there destined for the front. James helped break in the wild ones as well as shoeing them. One day his wife Rosie took baby Douglas for a walk and saw James riding a horse with another on a rein. They were so wild that he was struggling to control them and he couldn’t even wave. Once broken the horses were sent to the front line where they were used to transport supplies to the troops. Over 300,000 animals were sent between 1914-18 but only a small percentage returned to England.

Douglas and Gordon Yarnell

The family had an allotment plot at the bottom of the garden and Jim grew all their vegetables, together with keeping a pig, chickens and bees. During the 1930’s Gordon, who was a budding chemist made an explosive device and managed to blow up the steps at the bottom of their allotment which led down to The Dingle!

Douglas’ daughter Judith remembers “…apart from the sadness over Gordon’s death it was a very happy home. I certainly have many fond memories of our weekly visits. We visited every Sunday, firstly on bikes, with me on a seat attached to my Mother’s bike. However from the age of around 4 until I was 9 my father had a tandem which I rode with him – he was doing most of the peddling. When I was 9 we had a car so drove from Patchway to Sea Mills in comparative luxury.”

The Yarnell family were also very good friends with the Goffe family, members of both families feature in the photograph of the Weston Close VE Day party used to illustrate Brian Gearing’s memories of that event.

Thank you to David Watkins and Judith Norton for the information which makes up this page.

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