21-year-old Second Lieutenant John Harrison died on 16th April 1917 serving with “C” Company, 6th Battalion, Royal Warwickshire Regiment. Born on 8th November 1895 in Indianapolis, USA, he was the eldest of the seven children of parents John Arthur (an insurance broker) and Florence (née Garfield), who had married in 1894. An Old Silhillian, John Harrison had left Solihull Grammar School (Solihull House) in 1912, aged 17, and entered his father’s insurance broking business in Birmingham. Whilst at the school he was a non-commissioned officer in the Officer Training Corps (O.T.C.)
John Harrison joined the Territorial Force prior to the outbreak of war and was actually in camp when war broke out. Volunteering for overseas service, he went to the Front in March 1915 as a private soldier, before receiving a commission on 2nd December 1915.
He was awarded the Military Cross (London Gazette, 26th March 1917) for conspicuous gallantry and devotion to duty leading a bombing party, in spite of heavy casualties. Unpublished research by the late Alan Tucker indicates that this was in respect of an action on 4th February 1917, during which the battalion suffered heavy casualties.
Second Lieutenant Harrison was killed in action on the Somme on 16th April 1917 and is buried at Saulcourt Churchyard Extension, Guyencourt-Saulcourt, France. He was killed alongside his company commander, Captain James Stafford, and ten other ranks. John Harrison’s siblings were all considerably younger than he was, being born between 1903-1911, and so his brothers were all too young to fight in the war. The youngest child, Raymond, died in 2010, aged 99.
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