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Thomas Harrison was born in Preston in the September quarter of 1881 the youngest of four children born to Thomas and Esther Harrison (nee Fairclough). Thomas and Esther married in Preston in 1872 and their first child William was born in 1875, he was followed by John in 1876 and Esther in 1879. Just prior to Thomas`s birth the 1881 Census shows the family living at 18 Elizabeth Street in Preston where Thomas Harrison Snr. was employed as a bolt maker.

By 1891 the family had moved just a few minutes’ walk away to Fylde Street. Thomas Snr. was still a bolt maker and William who was sixteen years old was working in a mill, Thomas and his sister Esther were both attending school.

Thomas married a local girl Mary Jane Billington on the 21st March 1905 at Preston Registry Office and four years later a daughter was born and they named her Dorothy Fairclough (1909). In the Census of 1911 Thomas, Mary Jane and Dorothy were living at 30 Arkwright Road in Preston where Thomas described himself as being a master window cleaner with his `own account`.

He attested at the Preston recruiting office on the 5th December 1915 and was immediately posted to the Reserve. Thomas was mobilised on the 3rd December 1916 and was posted to the 4th Battalion LNL. At his medical inspection his height was recorded as 5`4” and his weight as 114lbs and he was said to be in good physical condition. He confirmed his occupation as a window cleaner and that his home address was 30 Arkwright Road in Preston. Thomas named his wife Mary Jane as his next of kin.

Thomas sailed to France from Folkestone on the 31st December 1916 and arrived in Etaples on New Year’s Day 1917. On the 17th January 1917 he was transferred to the 8th Battalion joining them in the field two days later and was subsequently attached to the machine gun section.

The 8th Battalion moved up to Westhoek Ridge on the 1st August 1917, the weather being particularly severe owing to the heavy rain. They had been sent to relieve the 2nd Battalion of the East Lancashire Regiment but the relief was carried out with some difficulty because the exact position of the battalion being relieved was not accurately known. The relief was also being carried out in broad daylight and in full view of the enemy who was still holding nearby Glencorse Wood therefore making casualties inevitable.

Sadly, Thomas became one of the casualties on that day when he was fatally wounded as a result of incoming shell fire.

After news of her husband`s death had been confirmed Mary Jane Harrison had the following information published in the Preston Guardian.21706 Private Thomas Harrison 8th Battalion

Thomas` service papers note that a bag containing personal items was despatched to Mrs. M. J. Harrison at 30 Arkwright Road in Preston, unfortunately there is no further information as to what the items were.

Mary Jane Harrison was awarded a pension of 18s/9d per week for herself and one child with effect from 18th February 1918.

Thomas`s body was never recovered from the battlefield and so his name was later remembered on the Ypres (Menin Gate) Memorial to the Missing. His name is also remembered on the Harris Museum and Library Roll of Honour in Preston.

In early 1922 Mary Jane Harrison signed for her husband`s British War and Victory Medals.

A few months later on the 5th October 1922 Mary Jane Harrison and her daughter Dorothy left England to sail to Australia. They traveled on the “SS Barrabool” out of the Port of London and arrived in Melbourne on the 22nd November.

Rank: Private
Service No: 27706
Date of Death: 01/08/1917
Regiment/Service: The Loyal North Lancashire Regiment, 8th Bn.

Janet Davis
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