Gresley Tatlock HARPER

HARPER, Gresley Tatlock

Service Number: 113
Enlisted: 5 October 1914, Guildford, Western Australia
Last Rank: Trooper
Last Unit: 10th Light Horse Regiment
Born: Guildford, Western Australia, 16 February 1884
Home Town: Guildford, Swan, Western Australia
Schooling: Saint Peters College, Adelaide, South Australia and Trinity College, Melbourne University, Victoria, Australia
Occupation: Barrister
Died: Killed in Action, Gallipoli, 7 August 1915, aged 31 years
Cemetery: No known grave - "Known Unto God"
Panel 10 Lone Pine Memorial, Gallipoli Peninsula
Memorials: Australian War Memorial Roll of Honour, Guildford Grammar School War Memorial, Guildford St. Matthew's Anglican Church Honour Roll, Guildford St. Matthew's Anglican Church Men Who Laid Down Their Lives Honour Roll, Guildford War Memorial, Guildford and District Roll of Honour, Hackney St Peter's College Fallen Honour Board, Kings Park 10th Light Horse Regiment Memorial WA, Lone Pine Memorial to the Missing, University of Western Australia Honour Roll
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World War 1 Service

5 Oct 1914: Involvement AIF WW1, Private, 113, 10th Light Horse Regiment, Enlistment/Embarkation WW1
5 Oct 1914: Enlisted AIF WW1, Guildford, Western Australia
8 Feb 1915: Embarked AIF WW1, Private, 113, 10th Light Horse Regiment, HMAT Mashobra, Fremantle
29 May 1915: Involvement AIF WW1, Trooper, 113, 10th Light Horse Regiment, ANZAC / Gallipoli
6 Aug 1915: Involvement AIF WW1, Trooper, 113, 10th Light Horse Regiment, The August Offensive - Lone Pine, Suvla Bay, Sari Bair, The Nek and Hill 60 - Gallipoli

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Gresley Tatlock Harper son of Charles and Fanny Harper, of 60, Mount St., Perth, Western Australia.was born at Guildford, Western Australia in 1884 and gained his early education at the Guildford Grammar School, before then coming to South Australia to attend the Collegiate School of St Peter.

Gresley later studied law at Melbourne University and in 1910 served his articles in Melbourne with Messrs Wiegall and Crowther, and read in the chambers of Mr. H Bryant, of Melbourne. [i]

He enlisted at Guildford, Western Australia in early October 1914 and with his brother Wilfred, was posted to A Squadron 10th Light Horse Regiment and sailed from Fremantle with the 10th Light Horse Regiment aboard HMAT Mashobra on 8 February 1915.

The 10th Light Horse Regiment was the only light horse regiment raised in Western Australia for service during the Great War and after joining, the remainder of the 3rd Light Horse Brigade in Egypt sailed for Gallipoli in May 1915. 

 In 1924 when writing about the bloody slaughter at the Nek, Charles Bean specifically mentioned Gresley and Wilfred Harper and wrote that Wilfred ‘was last seen running forward like a schoolboy in a footrace, with all the speed he could compass.’ [ii]

In order to report on the fate of the 37 officers, NCOs and men reported missing from his Regiment, Lieutenant Colonel Brazier assembled a Board of Inquiry at Russell’s Top two days after the events. During the Inquiry Brazier reported how after referring the matter to the 3rd Light Horse Brigade Headquarters, he ordered his regiment to assault the enemy trenches in two lines. He told the board how they had attacked in an easterly direction into a murderous hail of shrapnel, machine gun and rifle fire, and said he felt certain ‘few if any would return.’ He said after sighting through a periscope ‘a great number of dead’ outside the regiment’s trenches, he ordered the recovery of all bodies to cease for he considered it unwise at the time ‘to risk further loss of life’ as in his opinion that all the missing were dead.

The two senior members of the board, both of whom who took part in the assault, stated there was no further evidence required and were of the opinion all those missing were killed in action; Brazier concurred with the findings of the board. [iii]

In a letter written by Mrs Clara Robertson dated 5 April 1967, it is clear the terrible grief of losing both of her brothers more than 50 years earlier had not abated. In her letter she mentions how Gresley and Wilfred ‘were not buried’ and how she had read many accounts of the ‘horrible business’ each of which she said made it plain to her ‘what little care was taken of them.’ [iv]

Their younger brother, Prescott Henry Harper who had enlisted in March 1917 returned to Australia as a Lieutenant in June 1919.

[i] The West Australian (Perth, WA) 5 November 1911, p. 8
[ii] Bean, C E W, Official History of Australia In the War of 1914-18, Volume II, Angus and Robertson, Sydney 1924, p. 618
[iii] National Archives of Australia: B 2455, Harper, W L / 4420283, viewed 16 December 2005
[iv] ibid, Harper, G / 4420040, viewed 10 August 2006