A total of 3,888 identified casualties are buried in the British Commonwealth’s Ramleh War Cemetery. But one grave attracts a disproportionate share of visitors. It belongs to Private Harry Potter, number 5251351 in the Worcestershire Regiment, who was killed while serving in British Mandatory Palestine in 1939.
Private Potter lied about his age so he could join the British Army before turning 17. His regiment was sent to Palestine in September 1938 to counter anti-colonial Palestinian resistance.
While overseas, Potter worked in his battalion as a driver and came to be known as “Crash Harry,” though it’s not clear whether he was ever involved in a crash. He even signed his final letter home—which arrived after his death—with that nickname. Now, of course, his name conjures other associations and draws tourists who may not have otherwise visited the cemetery.
Potter was killed in Hebron in July 1939, toward the end of the Palestinian rebellion that began in 1936. More than 5,000 Arabs, 300 Jews, and some 262 Brits were killed during this period. The vast majority of graves in the Ramleh Cemetery, however, date from World War I, when in 1917 an Australian brigade occupied the town. Of the casualties either buried or memorialized in the cemetery, more than 1,000 are unidentified.
Know Before You Go
The cemetery is open Monday through Friday from 8 a.m. to 2:30 p.m. It's closed on weekends. The main entrance is wheelchair accessible. If you have a car, it's a roughly 30-minute drive from Tel Aviv-Yafo.