Captain James Hanna(y), Explorer and Trader of the Canadian Northwestern Coast, d. 1787

Robert Silver Hannay, D-Day Veteran, US Navy

Many young men volunteered for service in the Second World War. One such was Robert Hannay from Salem, Ohio, USA. He was born on July 14, 1926, the son of Frank and Helen Louise (Silver) Hannay. He enlisted in the U.S. Navy in 1943 as a Seaman 1st Class at the young age of 17 to serve his country as America responded to the twin threats of the Nazis and Imperial Japan during World War 2. He went through basic training at the Great Lakes Naval Base in Chicago and then on to a Brooklyn Navy base where he was assigned to a landing craft as a gunner on a Higgins Tank Carrier landing craft that was outfitted near New York. He was transferred to England via Nova Scotia with his craft, LST-281. The craft was capable of landing a sizeable number of men, their equipment and tanks to shore without the need for a harbour in an amphibious landing. His first substantive action was on D Day, June 6th 1944, at Omaha Beach in Normandy, France, where he acted as a loader to the 200mm gun beside his partner, the shooter. After the beach was secured, tanks were unloaded. Hannay stayed on the craft as a gunner watching history and carnage unfolding in front of his eyes as an 18 year-old. He later remarked that the Hollywood movie, ‘Saving Private Ryan’ was the best movie ever made and very accurate to what happened that day.

After the Normandy landings he was transferred to the Mediterranean and took part in the amphibious landing at Corsica off the coast of France along with the subsequent invasion of southern France. During that assault his boat was beached by a retreating tide and it became a sitting duck to the Nazis. The crew put up a dirigible balloon to deter air attacks but that invited incoming 88mm shells. He recalled one such shell going by so close that he could feel the breeze from it as it whistled past. They were fortunate not to be hit and the captain let the balloon loose so that allied air planes spotted them and took out the German gun.

Hannay and his crew were then transferred to the Pacific theatre of the war and were part of the American Army’s island hopping towards Japan. During the Okinawa landings his craft went in behind a smoke screen but was spotted by a kamikaze aircraft coming straight at them. Their guns were not big enough to take it out, but fortunately a nearby destroyer downed the plane before it hit their landing craft.

Hannay served two years and three months in the US Navy in total before being discharged after the war. He receiving the American Campaign Medal, European African Middle Eastern Service Medal with two Bronze Campaign Stars for Normandy and Southern France, Asiatic-Pacific Service Medal with one Bronze Campaign Star for the Okinawa Invasion, the Philippines Liberation Medal, WWII Victory Medal and subsequently in 2016 he was made a Knight of the Legion of Honour that was bestowed by France to all surviving D Day Veterans.

He returned home to Ohio after the war, completed his education, got several jobs in the automotive industry culminating in his working for General Motors in Lordstown as an assembler for 25 years, retiring in 1991. He married Mildred “Millie” Grace Smith on September 4th, 1948 and had two daughters, Shirley and Sharon. He loved to do woodworking during his retirement and golfing at the Salem Hills Golf Course. His wife, Millie preceded him in death on October 31st, 2016 and he died quietly on the 27th January 2019 in Ohio aged 92 years. He leaves behind four grandchildren and three great grandchildren as well as his daughters. He is one of the last of the brave men who fought for freedom and liberty from tyranny in World War 2.




Ted Hanney (1889-1964)

by Robert Keith Hanna, Clan Hannay Genealogist

originally published in the 2016 Clan Hannay Newsletter

Olympic Gold Medalist and Somme Veteran, Ted Hanney (1889-1964)

In a year that celebrates both the Summer Olympics in Rio de Janeiro and the centenary of the Battle of the Somme in World War I, it is good to reflect on the life and career of Ted Hanney, Olympic Gold Medalist in 1912 for GB, and a veteran of the Somme battlefield. Terence Percival (“Ted”) Hanney (1889-1964) was born on 19 January 1889 in Reading, Berkshire, the youngest of three children born to John Hanney, the Quartermaster Sergeant of the Royal Berks Regiment, and his wife Henrietta. Hanney spent his early years at Reading’s Brock Barracks before moving to the Duke of York’s Royal Military Asylum in Chelsea aged 11 for his education. He then enlisted in his father’s regiment as a boy solider and would go on to serve eight years before leaving the Army in 1911 as a corporal to become a footballer.

He was a tall, dashing defender – tough, but also quick and skillful. After a number of England amateur caps, he was selected for the 1912 British Olympic squad for Sweden and played in Great Britain’s pivotal 7-0 win over Hungary. Sadly, he sustained an injury and was forced to watch from the sidelines as his team won gold versus Denmark (4-2) and he never received a medal despite his participation to that point.

1912 Great Britain Gold Medal-Winning Football Team: Back, f. l. t. r. Horace Littlewort, Dr. Ronald Brebner, Arthur Berry, Harold Walden, Vivian Woodward, Gordon Hoare, Ivan Sharp, Arthur Knight; Front, f. l. t. r. James Dines, Thomas Burn, Edward Hanney.

On returning to England in 1912 he signed professional forms for Reading FC and shortly afterwards was sold to Manchester City for a huge fee for the time, £1,250. Soon, though, the First World War came for Ted and all four of his brothers. From the prestige of a big money move to Manchester City, Ted enlisted in 1915 and found himself a world away at the battle of the Somme in northern France at a place called Delville Wood, nicknamed “Devil’s Wood” by fellow soldiers, where he had risen to the rank of sergeant. Delville Wood was a central point of the battle of the Somme that saw an unprecedented 60,000 British casualties on the first day of fighting alone, July 1st 1916.

Hanney was part of the British 2nd Division that was held back until the 27th July. With nine shells per second raining down and the stench of weeks-old bodies rotting in the French summer sun, Ted first survived a nearby grenade explosion which killed a fellow soldier but only left him dazed. He carried on regardless, but a shell then badly wounded him with shrapnel in the thigh, face and neck at 10.30pm on 28th July 1916. He had to remain out in the trenches without proper medical attention until 8.30am the next morning to avoid gunfire. Despite his injuries, Ted later said;

“The Germans counter attacked three times that night, and as I felt quite alright, I stopped and gave them a few extra rounds of ammunition. By gum, I saw some fights I shall never forget.”

In August he was sent back to England to recover, and after undergoing surgery to remove shrapnel from his face he was discharged from hospital in September and sent to the Eastern Command Depot at Shoreham, Sussex. In January 1917 Hanney was posted to Chatham, Kent where he remained for the duration of the war. He was finally discharged from the British Army on 25th March 1919. During active service he had suffered facial scarring, damage to the right shoulder and, most significantly for his footballing career, a torn adductor muscle in his right leg. He played for a time with Coventry City and then for Reading again before retiring in 1922.

Incredibly, a few years after his retirement, he coached in Germany with VfB Stuttgart, whom he led to the Württemberg-Baden regional championship in 1927, and FC Wacker München, where he also found some success. Hanney returned to Reading before the Second World War, during which he ran coaching sessions at his former club. He ended his days as the landlord of the Russell Arms public house, 2-4 Bedford Road, Reading, Berkshire (now renamed The Royal pub) and died on his way to hospital after collapsing at Reading’s Salisbury Club on the 30th November 1964. He never married.