Merrison, Joseph Frederick (No. 928709)

Merrison, Joseph Frederick (Joe)

Leading Aircraftman

No. 928709, 995 Balloon Squadron, Royal Air Force Volunteer Reserve

Died as the result of enemy action on Tuesday 22 December 1942 (aged 22)


Great Yarmouth (Caister) Cemetery, Norfolk, England (Section J Grave 178)


Commonwealth War Graves Commission

Conway family headstone in Bangor Cemetery, Newtownards Road, Bangor

Husband of Civilian Gladys Noreen Merrison


Joseph Frederick (Joe) Merrison was the only surviving son of Joseph Adams Merrison (whose birth was registered in the third quarter of 1893) and Clarissa Hovells Merrison (nee Hanton) of Great Yarmouth, Norfolk.

Joseph Adams Merrison was a baker and his marriage to Clarissa Hanton was registered in the fourth quarter of 1913.  They had at least four children whose births were registered as indicated below:

Joseph (in the first quarter of 1913; died in infancy)

Clarissa Jessie Margaret (in the first quarter of 1918)

Joseph Frederick (in the second quarter of 1920)

Ethel Joan (in the third quarter of 1928)

After a period of service in Northern Ireland, Leading Aircraftman Joseph Frederick Merrison (No. 928709) was posted to England.  He was granted leave in December 1942 and he and his wife Gladys went to stay with Joseph’s mother Clarissa in Great Yarmouth.  Clarissa Merrison was engaged in war work and bombs fell on her house on 22 December 1942 after she had left home to go to work.  Joe and Gladys were alone in the house at 14 Higham Place when the bombs fell.  Gladys Merrison was killed instantaneously, and Joe was very severely injured; he died five hours later in hospital.

The tragedy had added poignancy because Joe’s mother, Clarissa Merrison, had already lost two daughters (Clarissa Jessie Margaret and Ethel Joan), a grand-daughter (Margaret) and a niece in earlier German air raids.

The marriage of Clarissa Jessie Margaret Merrison and Robert H. Wilson was registered in the first quarter of 1940.  Robert H. Wilson was a Gunner in the Royal Artillery and he and Clarissa had one child, a daughter named Margaret who was born in February 1941.  They lived at 59 North Quay, Great Yarmouth.  On 11 April 1941 Clarissa Jessie Margaret Wilson (nee Merrison), her daughter Margaret (aged two months) and her sister Ethel Joan Merrison (aged 12) died at the George Street Shelter in Great Yarmouth during an air raid.

In 1949 Clarissa Merrison (nee Hanton) married Alfred Davison and she died in 1953 (aged 58).

Joseph Adams Merrison died in 1966 (aged 73).

Both Joseph Frederick and Gladys Noreen Merrison (nee Conway) were killed in the same incident at 14 Higham Place, St. Nicholas Road, Great Yarmouth.  They were among eight people who lost their lives when a lone German aircraft dropped a stick of bombs on a residential area.

During the Second World War more than 200 Great Yarmouth townspeople were killed in air raids between 1940 and 1944.

Both Joe and Gladys Merrison (both aged 22) are commemorated on the Conway family headstone in Bangor Cemetery.  They had only been married for nine months when they were killed.

Of the many civilians of the Commonwealth whose deaths were due to enemy action in the Second World War, the names of some 67,092 are commemorated in the Civilian War Dead Roll of Honour, located near St. George’s Chapel in Westminster Abbey, London.