Some Interesting Facts about Harry S. Wake

He was born in 1900.

He started playing the violin but didn't like it, later he found the 'cello suited him much better.

He learned much of his craft about violinmaking when he was a child, by helping his father.  His father was a well-known musician in England, but he was not good with his hands for instrument repairs, so Harry did the hands-on work.

After the sinking of RMS Lusitania, he quit school when he was 15 years old to join the Royal Marines to serve in WWI (called the "Great War" at the time).

He served on the HMS PRINCESS ROYAL in the Battle of Jutland, the largest sea battle of WWI.

While on board a medical ship, en route to the hospital for injuries, his ship was sliced in two by a battleship, he fell in the water, and woke up in the hospital.

He played for some time for silent movie theaters.

He played professionally in England at numerous locations (e.g. the Brighton West Pier), Ocean City, NJ (at the historic Flanders Hotel), Philadelphia, and on ocean cruise liners (including the sister ship of the Titanic, the RMS Olympic).

On one of the ocean cruises, he fell overboard late at night in the middle of the ocean, he was miraculously retrieved and survived.

When he "jumped ship" to stay in the USA with Dorothy (his future spouse) in 1927, he carried his belongings inside his 'cello.

He was an inventor, patent examiner, designer, and engineer, but was completely self taught!

He struggled with alcoholism since his youth (introduced while in the military), until he quit cold turkey in 1954 after hitting "bottom".  He moved to San Diego with Dorothy, to start anew.

He didn't start getting involved in violinmaking until after his retirement in 1961, he built violins until he passed away at the age of 97 in 1998.  Serving as an inspiration for others, he really flourished in his old age, after "retirement."

He founded SCAVM in 1964.

He started having the informal violinmaking meetings in his Luthier's Lodge Motel, a small motel that he and Dorothy managed and owned in Point Loma, CA.

He started writing the books in the late 60's.  He wrote his books in handwriting.  Dorothy typed the books at the kitchen table using a mechanical typewriter.

He purchased the computer game "Battle of Jutland" in the early 90's.  He noticed some things that he thought were not correct in the game. He called the company to discuss these.  He told them that he was there, at the real battle, and was now playing the game!  At first, not surprisingly, they didn't believe him.

At the time of his passing, he was the last surviving crew member of the HMS PRINCESS ROYAL.

Other related Wikipedia Links: RMS Lusitania, Brighton West Pier, RMS Olympic

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