John “Jack” Harrison (12/11/1890 – 03/05/1917) was awarded the Victoria Cross for his actions on the 3rd of May 1917 when ordered, with the rest of his brigade, to attack a wood near Oppy, Pas-de-Calais.
The Citation, recorded in the London Gazette of Supplement: 30130, Page: 5866, reads:
“R. T/2nd Lt. John Harrison, M.C., E. York.
For most conspicuous bravery and self sacrifice in an attack.
Owing to darkness and to smoke from the enemy barrage, and from our own, and to the fact that our objective was in a dark wood, it was impossible to see when our barrage had lifted off the enemy front line.
Nevertheless, 2nd Lt. Harrison led his company against the enemy trench under heavy rifle and machine-gun fire, but was repulsed. Reorganising his command as best he could in No Man’s Land, he again attacked in darkness under terrific fire, but with no success.
Then, turning round, this gallant officer single-handed made a dash at the machinegun, hoping to knock out the gun and so save the lives of many of his company.
His self-sacrifice and absolute disregard of danger was an inspiring example to all. (He is reported missing, believed killed.)”
He was also awarded the Military Cross for his actions on 25 February 1917, when he lead a patrol into no man’s land.
The Citation reads:
“Temp. 2nd Lt. John Harrison, E. York. R. For conspicuous gallantry and devotion to duty. He handled his platoon with great courage and skill, reached his objective under the most trying conditions, and captured a prisoner. He set a splendid example throughout.”
He has no known grave and is commemorated on the Arras Memorial to the Missing, France. Bay 4 and 5.
Arras Memorial to the Missing. Image courtesy of Ralph Mclean and the South African War Graves Project.
© DRW 2017-2018. Created 29/04/2017. Inscription image courtesy of Mark Green.