Blogger Template by Blogcrowds.

George Harris

On this day in 1917 my great great uncle, George Harris, died of wounds out in Belgium.

George was born on 10th July 1890 at Lower Sloan Street in London. He was the sixth of nine surviving children (the 1911 census notes one deceased child but I currently don't have a name) and the third of five boys. His parents, William John Harris and Harriet Louisa Farley, moved around quite a lot over the years. William was a grocer, and over the years all five boys grew up learning the same trade.

So, to put our George into a bit of context, he had five older siblings. His eldest brother William John was born in 1879, a sister Amelia came along on Christmas Eve in 1880. She was followed by Alice Maud in 1883 and James Henry (more on him in September) in 1885. My great-grandmother Kate was born in October 1887. After George came Albert Edward in 1893, with Harry in 1896 and finally May in 1898. I can only imagine how loud their household must have been.

By the time the First World War broke out the Harris family had dispersed a bit, with William and Alice married and living with their respective spouses. Family legend says that all five brothers signed up to fight, but whether they all joined together to went one by one as their consciences dictated isn't known.

What I know about George mostly comes from his medal card, shown above (image from Ancestry). He was originally in the Border Regiment, and his "Theatre of War First Served In" is listed as "2B". This means he served in Gallipoli, the date of entry for his "first theatre" is shown as the 25th April 1915, also known as the day of the Cape Helles landings. This was a brutal place to be fighting in, not helped by the high temperatures which the British lads would have been unfamiliar with. For many people Gallipoli is thought of as being mostly fought by ANZAC troops, but there were plenty of British boys fighting there too.

After the failure at Gallipoli the troops were pulled back to Egypt, where George (which had managed to survive the Cape Helles bloodbath) was transferred from the Border Regiment to the Machine Gun Corps.

WO 95/2305 at The National Archives

A lovely bloke from a first world war forum sent me the above picture, showing a certain Harris, G being part of a list of troops transferred to the MGC on 1st February 1916. He was given a new service number on the left, which matches the second service number in the medal card further up.

His particular MGC group (87th Company) was eventually moved over to help fight in the trenches, and it was here that George lost his life. I looked up the war diary for the company for the day that he died, but as with many soldiers his death is simply marked with "3 ORs dead" (OR stands for "Other Ranks", basically anyone that wasn't an officer).

He was buried at Canada Farm Cemetery out in Belgium, which me and my family visited a few years ago. It is, basically, a gravesite in the middle of a bunch of fields. Canada Farm was a farm (as the name suggests) which was turned into a field hospital

Sadly he wasn't the first brother to die, his older brother James was killed in action before him. Luckily the other three lived through it all.

If you're thinking of researching soldiers from your family here's a lot of help and guides online nowadays, you'll be surprised at what you find!

Have a nice day everyone!


Newer Post Older Post Home