Edward Noel HARRIS


HARRIS, Edward Noel

Service Number: 878
Enlisted: Not yet discovered
Last Rank: Corporal
Last Unit: 20th Infantry Battalion
Born: Gawler, South Australia, 27 September 1876
Home Town: Goondah, Yass Valley, New South Wales
Schooling: Queens School and St Peter's College
Occupation: Farm Hand
Died: Killed in Action, France, 30 July 1916, aged 39 years
Cemetery: Pozières British Cemetery
Pozieres British Cemetery Ovillers-La Boisselle, Pozieres, Picardie, France
Memorials: Australian War Memorial Roll of Honour, Gawler Council Gawler Men Who Answered the Call WW1 Roll of Honor, Hackney St Peter's College Fallen Honour Board
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World War 1 Service

25 Jun 1915: Involvement Private, SN 878, 20th Infantry Battalion, Battle for Pozières
25 Jun 1915: Embarked Private, SN 878, 20th Infantry Battalion, HMAT Berrima, Sydney
30 Jul 1916: Involvement Corporal, SN 878, 20th Infantry Battalion, Battle for Pozières

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From the book Fallen Saints

Edward Noel Harris was born in Gawler, South Australia and educated at Queens School and the Collegiate School of St Peter. After leaving school he worked as a farm hand and at the start of the war was living and working near Goondah, New South Wales.

He enlisted at Liverpool New South Wales in March 1915 as Edward Harris and was posted to C Company, 20th Battalion in April. This battalion was raised at Liverpool, NSW in March 1915 and with the 17th 18th and 19th Battalions made up the 5th Brigade, 2nd Division.

Private Harris sailed from Sydney with the battalion aboard HMAT Berrima on 25 June and after two months training in Egypt, landed at Anzac on 22 August 1915; he was made temporary corporal in October and his rank was confirmed while at Mudros in December.

After returning to Egypt, he was taken to 7th Field Ambulance at Australia Hill with fever on 10 February, and evacuated to 2nd Casualty Clearing Station, Tel el Kebir.

He was treated for parotitus at 1st Stationary Hospital at Ismailia and was later transferred to No 4 Auxiliary Hospital at Abbassia with Mumps. He returned to the battalion at Moascar on 7 March and eleven days later sailed for France aboard HMT Ingoma.  

The 20th Battalion entered the frontline trenches in France for the first time in April 1916 and a month later had the dubious honour of being the first AIF battalion to be raided by the Germans. Although he was not listed as missing until 5 August a Court of Inquiry convened at the end of September 1917 determined Corporal Harris had been killed in action on 30 July 1916; he was 29 years of age.

When interviewed in relation to the fate of Harris and 13 other men in November 1916, Privates Thomas Richings and Alfred Jones said, ‘They went over with us in the charge at Pozières on July 25.’ Richings and Jones claimed they knew Harris and nine others well since they were all in the same platoon. They said since all of the missing were in their company they had seen them during the attack. According to them they had made it across to the German lines and held some trenches for about 30 minutes but were forced to retire when ‘another party of men failed to get across to us with bombs.’  

The Roll was called. These men were all missing, it is certain they were either killed or taken prisoner. We believe they must have been killed, as the fire was terrific. On July 29th, four days later we went across again. The trenches we had previously held for so short a time were blown to pieces, the shelling had been so heavy. Any bodies about that area must have been blown to pieces. Between the 25th and the 29th burial parties were out on several occasions and a number of bodies were buried. A number of identification discs were brought in. There is no record of these men’s discs having been recovered. ...’ [i]

When Edward’s mother filled out the particulars for the Roll of Honour Circular she wrote that three of her nephews had also served in the AIF; one was awarded the Military Cross, one the Military Medal and the other the Meritorious Service Medal. [ii]

[i] Australian War Memorial, Australian Red Cross wounded and missing enquiry bureau files – Harris, Edward Noel / 1271002 viewed 2 October 2005
[ii] National Archives of Australia: B 2455, Harris Edward / 4764012 viewed 29 May 2006