Thomas Alexander Harrison

Informationen zu Geburt

Totara Flat, Canterbury, New Zealand

Allgemeine Informationen


Informationen zum Armeedienst

New Zealand
New Zealand Expeditionary Force
Einberufung datum:
Einberufung ort:
Darfield, Canterbury, New Zealand
 —  Canterbury Regiment, 1st Bn.  (Letzte bekannte Einheit)

Informationen zu Tod

Friesland Copse, Belgien
Im Kampf gefallen


Poelcapelle British Cemetery
Grabstelle: IV
Reihe: F
Grab: 28

Auszeichnungen und Orden 2

British War Medal
Victory Medal

Punkte von Interesse 2

#1 Geburtsort
#2 Einberufung ort

Meine Geschichte

Thomas Eaton was born in 1894 in Totara Flat, Canterbury. He was the son of Joseph and Elizabeth Harrison. Thomas was a shepherd until he enlisted for the New Zealand Expeditionary Force in October 1916. By the time of the Battle of Passchendaele he served with the 1st Battalion Canterbury Regiment, part of the 1st New Zealand Brigade, of the New Zealand Division.

On 12 October 1917 the New Zealand Division advanced towards Passchendaele. The attack of the Division was entrusted to the 2nd Brigade on the right and the 3rd Brigade on the left. Each Brigade had half the Divisional frontage, and was to attack in depth; one battalion was to take the first objective, a second battalion was then to pass through to take the second objective, and so on. The 1st Canterbury’s were attached to the 2nd Brigade and were to capture the Brigade’s last objective.

The 1st Canterbury’s with the 1st Company of the 2nd Canterbury’s assembled on the south-east side of the Ravebeek stream. At zero hour 5.25 a.m. on 12 October the allied artillery opened fire. The 2nd Otago advanced behind this creeping barrage, facing heavy machine-gun fire despite the cover of the barrage. After crossing the Ravebeek stream the troops were quickly held up in front of a line of mutually supporting pill-boxes protected by at least two belts of steel wire. It guarded the western slopes of the Bellevue ridge. The men were unable to pass this Line, as the artillery had failed to breach the steel wire, in many cases 50 yards deep. By 6 a.m. it became clear that the Battalion could not get on. The artillery barrage had stopped, and nothing hindered the German machine-gunners. Two Companies of the 2nd Canterbury’s attached to the 2nd Otago Battalion, came up from reserve and tried to work around the flanks of the pill-boxes at Bellevue, on the Gravenstafel-Mosselmarkt road. Their attempt was in vain. The 2nd Otago was still trapped in front of the impenetrable wire, raked by heavy machine-gun fire.

The Brigade then tried to breach the wire by sending in the 1st Otago and 1st Canterbury Battalions, who were waiting behind the 2nd Otago. The 1st Canterbury’s followed immediately in the rear of the 1st Otago. As they crossed the Ravebeek they came under heavy shell and machine-gun fire, killing the Battalion’s commander Lieutenant-Colonel King. After crossing the Ravebeek the 1st Otago, 1st Canterbury and the remnants of the 2nd Otago advanced against the wire. Some men got through the first belt, but all were held up by the second belt and the machine-gun fire behind it. Numerous men fell trying to breach this line. Once this attack was broken, the Germans dealt with some isolated attempts to advance. The New Zealanders were trapped and every movement was responded by German sniper- and machine-gun fire. The troops were obliged to dig in and had to wait for the hours of darkness before they could retreat.

The twenty-three year-old Private Thomas Alexander Harrison was one of the 846 New Zealanders who fell during the disastrous attack on the Bellevue Ridge. He was initially buried in the field east of Bellevue, near Friesland and Friesland Copse, on the utter right flank of the Division. This may indicate that he might have been in a party, which tried to outflank the German positions on the Bellevue Ridge. Thomas was first declared missing in action, however, as no word had been received, he was declared killed in action in April 1918. In 1920 his remains were found and identified and Thomas was interred in Poelcapelle British Cemetery.

Dateien 2

Quellen 6

"Passchendaele. The Day-by-Day Account", McCarthy C., London, Uniform, 2018, pg. 129-131.
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"The History of the Canterbury Regiment N.Z.E.F. 1914-1919", Ferguson D., Auckland, Whitcombe and Tombs, 1921, pg. 192-204.
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The Long, Long Trail
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