Thomas Harrison

Four members of the Harrison family from Lucknow volunteered to serve in the First World War. One of them – Thomas Harrison – did not return; he was killed in action at Villers-Bretonneux in France on 17 July 1918, at age 24.

Thomas was born in Lucknow in 1893. His father, Frederick, had arrived in Australia in March 1885 and was employee of the Wentworth Mine at Lucknow. By the late 1890s the family had relocated to Neutral Bay in Sydney, where Thomas attended the public school.

On 1 February 1916 Thomas enlisted at Casula. He gave his occupation as a slater and tiler and nominated his mother Annie Eliza as his next of kin. He embarked for overseas service on 9 April and disembarked at Plymouth on 7 June after a brief stopover in Alexandria, Egypt, to change ships.

Thomas undertook further training at the 5th Training Battalion before proceeding to France on 17 August, a private in the 19th Battalion, 11th Reinforcement.

On 16 November 1916 Private Harrison was wounded in action, receiving a gunshot wound to the left shoulder. He was evacuated to England where he was hospitalised and rehabilitated, followed by three weeks of furlough. He then spent ten months at Perham Downs before rejoining his battalion in Belgium on 14 October 1917.

Nine days later Thomas was shot for a second time, this time in the right arm. He was admitted initially to the 3rd Canadian General Hospital, but was again transferred to England for treatment. He did not rejoin his unit for a further four months.

At daybreak on 17 July 1918 the 19th Battalion succeeded in capturing a German post near Villers-Bretonneux. Private Harrison was stretcher-bearing, transporting a wounded German soldier to safety when he was hit by an enemy shell, killing him instantly. Thomas was buried in the nearby Villers-Bretonneux Military Cemetery.

Thomas’ brothers Frederick and Richard also served in WWI, as did his father, Frederick snr. All survived the war.

Thomas Harrison is commemorated on panel number 88 on the Roll of Honour at the Australian War Memorial in Canberra.

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This entry was posted on July 17th, 2018.