Gilbert Alexander HARRIMAN [1900-1981]
The name of Gilbert Harriman is remembered in my family as the trainer of my grandfather, Charles Warren’s racing ponies, known as the “Tile” ponies, during the years 1920-1923. When one of the Tile ponies won the Professional Cup at the Happy Valley Derby, a photographer was hired to commemorate the occasion, snapping Charles Warren and his daughter Evelyn together with Harriman and the magnificent trophy for posterity. The cup has sadly disappeared. After Charles Warren’s death in 1923 the Tile ponies were all sold and Harriman’s connection with our family ceased.
When Harriman arrived in Hong Kong in 1919 aged 19, he had already served in the 1st World War. He joined the wine merchants Donnelly & White as “Assistant”, but combined his work with racing at Happy Valley, soon acquiring ponies of his own and sometimes riding them himself. In 1925 he started his own broking company, “Hodgson & Harriman,” and became a founder member of the Hong Kong Stock Exchange.
Harriman was a member of the HKRNVR on HMS Tamar and was awarded an MBE for “outstanding service pre-war”. I don’t know if his role during the invasion has been documented. He was a POW at Shamshui Po. Harriman’s wife Laura had been evacuated to Australia in 1940 with their three sons. She is mentioned in Tony Banham’s book, Reduced to a Symbolical Scale. Harriman’s service record puts him as arriving in Australia with his family in February 1948, so they must have spent a further spell in Hong Kong after the war. In Sydney he founded the broking company, Gilbert Harriman & Son and was a member of the Sydney Stock Exchange for many years. Racing remained his passion however. A photo of him recently sold on eBay shows him walking alongside a winning racehorse in later life.