Bristol, Clifton College, Dardanelles, France, Gallipoli, Hill 53, India, Indian Army, Kent, Midland Counties Express, pilots, Richard Harrison, Royal Dublin Fusiliers, Sandhurst, Sikhs (Frontier Force), St Michael and All Angels Church, Staffordshire, Stratford upon Avon, Tettenhall, Turkey
Richard was born in Stratford on 20 March 1883, the son of the Reverend Albert Richard and Alice Maria Harrison. His father being a vicar meant that the family moved around to different parishes, so they were living in Castle Church, Staffordshire, in 1891. In 1901 Richard was a pupil at Clifton College in Bristol, but his parents were at Tettenhall, where his father was now vicar. Richard was later educated at Sandhurst. In 1911, Albert was staying in Kent with his brother-in-law, Frederick Scorer, but Richard did not appear.
By this date, he had enlisted as a Captain of the 51st Sikhs (Frontier Force) based in Peshawar, India. He took his Royal Aero Club Aviators’ Certificate at Brooklands in a Bristol Biplane on 14 November 1911.
When war broke out, Richard was on leave in England, but he immediately offered his services. He was attached for special service to the 7th Battalion of the Royal Dublin Fusiliers known as “The Young Toughs”. The battalion went to the Dardanelles in July 1915, and Richard was gazetted major.
He was killed on 16 August 1915 at Gallipoli. An article in the Midland Counties Express on 28 August 1915 announced his death, but also stated that his sister, Mildred Harrison, was nursing wounded French soldiers in hospital in France. A follow-up article in the same newspaper on 4 September 1915 included extracts from letters from fellow soldiers concerning Richard’s gallantry in the field:
Colonel Downing in a letter to his wife
We fought from early morning to dark, and the 7th R.D.F. made a great name for itself…I got a message from the General during one of the hottest times of the attack that it was imperative that Hill 53 should be taken before sundown…We captured it just as it was getting dark, and the Turks fled from it and we gained the front line of trenches. Major Harrison led the final attack and capture, and I came after with the reserve
Captain Poole H. Hickman, killed on the same day as the Major, in an account for the Irish Times
Major Harrison was in command of the fist line, and was marvellously good
A private in a letter to the Irish Times
The officers are splendid fellows, and we fell every confidence in them. Major Harrison is the hero of the week’s battle, and led us through the eventful Saturday
Major Harrison in a letter to his mother, written the day before his death
I have been in and safely through my first battle. It was the capture of a hill…about two miles from the shore. My company was largely responsible for its taking, and you will be pleased to hear that my name has gone forward for gallantry and coolness in the field.
A well-known Dublin doctor in a letter of sympathy to Mr and Mrs Harrison
[Major Harrison] was held by all here with feelings of very affectionate regard. What my son, Captain ____________, who met his death on the same day, knew of military work he learned from your son.