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BLYTH

Harrison, J., A/CSM., 1915

Shields Daily News 21/08/1916

Illustrated Chronicle 06/09/1915

De Ruvigny Roll of Honour Vol. 4 page 76

Medal Index Card

In Vieille-Chapelle New Military Cemetery, Lacouture is the Commonwealth War Grave of 7034 Acting Company Sergeant Major John Harrison, serving with 'A' Company, 1st Battalion, (49th Foot) Princess Charlotte of Wales's (Royal Berkshire Regiment) who died 20/08/1915.

John Harrison was born on the 23rd May 1886, at Elswick, Newcastle-upon-Tyne, the eldest son of Edward Harrison and his wife Mary, daughter of Mark Gray.

John was educated at the Wellesley Training Ship, from 1899 to 1903, and then joined the army on the 26th January 1903. He was posted to the 2nd Battalion Royal Berkshire Regiment, and was a Lance-Corporal, first sent to Egypt, then sent to India at Meerut, a unit of the 5th (Mhow) Division which was part of Western Command in India.

After the outbreak of war, he was posted into the 1st Battalion, and by September 1914 he was in France .

He was killed in action by a Minenwerfer at La Bassee on Friday 20th August 1915. He was unmarried.

This is the relevant entry from the War Diary:- Location France, CUINCHY

"At 8am two large minenwerfer were fired by the enemy against our centre company. This is a very formidable weapon. The projectile has a driving band and a heavy brass fuse like a 6 inch shell, weighs about 200 lbs and is about 5 inches [126mm] broad by 15 ins [377mm] high. It explodes with great violence and is very destructive. At 10.15am enemy exploded a small mine at the end of one of our saps. Portions of our front trench were blown in but quickly repaired. Again at 4.20pm the enemy exploded another small mine in front of our left (C) Company, about 120 yards from our front post and South of the railway embankment just South of the LA BASSEE canal. It is impossible to see the reason of this second mine unless it was intended to form a crater in which to build an outflanking post. At 5pm 8 large minenwerfers fell on our centre company, and greatly damaged our trenches. One these exploded in the middle of one group, killing Capt Weston (OC "A" Company), A/CSM Harrison, Sergeant Hawkes, (who had been out since the beginning of the war) Pts Bosley and Dibbs. As it was suspected by the mining experts that the enemy intended blowing up the right of our centre company, orders were given that we were firing a mine, and that a small party of four, two bombers two riflemen, was to be ready to occupy the new crater as soon as possible. Capt Radford and the Adjutant went to supervise this minor operation. At 9.5pm the order was given to fire our charge of 250 lbs. A very violent explosion followed much to everyone's surprise, and a large part of our parapet, about 20 yards, was blown in, several people were buried partially, one man was killed. Apparently the enemy had already laid his charge of about 800 lbs, and we had just forestalled him, our charge having fired his. Work was at once started clearing our trench and reconnoitring the new crater. Anyhow, "all's well that ends well" and this unexpected explosion made one large crater of several small ones, which fact greatly simplified the situation there. A patrol went along the railway embankment as before at 2am and heard the following conversation in the German line. "Give me a cigarette, John." John replied "I haven't got any bloody cigarettes!" Captain Sawyer, Capt Nugent, Lieuts Vesey and Lickman came over from the 2nd Battn. 2/Lt Gomez and 2/Lt Tyson returned from leave. 2/Lt Gomez left the Battalion to join the 1st Battn The Dorsetshire Regiment. 2/Lt Stokes took command of "A" Coy."

The Wardrobe War Diaries for the Berkshire Regiment WW1.

De Ruvigny Roll of Honour

John Harrison is remembered in Blyth on B42.13, at Elswick E35.10 and Tynemouth in T36.14


Berkshire War Diaries
The CWGC entry for Acting Company Sergeant Major Harrison

1st Battalion Berkshire Regiment WW1 History

If you know more about this person, please send the details to janet@newmp.org.uk