Pte Harrison David Henry

  • Date of birth: 21/09/1898
  • Place of birth: Barberton, Transvaal, Union of South Africa
  • Date of death: 20/09/1917
  • Place of death: Bostin Farm, Belgium
  • Cause of death: Killed in action (K.I.A.)
  • Age: 18
  • Profession: Mail Carrier - Postman
  • Country: Union of South Africa
  • Rank: Private
  • Service number: 11336
  • Enlistment date: Unknown
  • Enlistment place: Pietermaritzburg, Natal, Union of South Africa
  • Last known unit: South African Infantry Regiment, 2nd Bn.
  • Force: British Expeditionary Force

Cemetery

Additional information

David Henry Harrison was born on the 21st of September 1898 in Barberton, Transvaal, South Africa. David enlisted in the South African Overseas Expeditionary Force, a volunteer force raised by the Union of South Africa to fight abroad alongside the Allied Nations. He joined to the South African Infantry Regiment 2nd Battalion, part of the South African Brigade, which was embedded with the 9th (Scottish) Division.

On the 20th of September 1917, the Scottish Division participated in the Battle of the Menin Road Ridge, a stage in the Battle of Passchendaele. It advanced from the Frezenberg Ridge towards the village of Zonnebeke, with the 27th Brigade and the South African Brigade.

The leading battalions of the South African Brigade were the 3rd and 4th Regiment; with the 1st and 2nd Regiment in support. The 4th Regiment would attack on the left, while the 3rd would attack on the right flank. Once the leading Battalions had captured the first objective, the 1st and 2nd Regiments were to move through and consolidate the Green Line. The 2nd Regiment was on the left flank, just behind the 4th Regiment.

At 5.40 am, zero hour, the attacking parties advanced behind a creeping barrage. Moments later, a German barrage fell on the old frontline, forcing the supporting Vattalions to move forward. The 3rd Regiment and more specifically its left wing advanced very easily. They went through the friendly barrage, took Vampir Farm, and reached their objective without much trouble. The right wing, however, encountered more difficulties. They were held up by machine-gun fire coming from the German stronghold at Potsdam. Troops were sent up to the strongpoint in order assist the Royal Scots to help silence Potsdam. Together they managed to capture the stronghold, but not without suffering heavy casualties. Once taken, Potsdam, was left in charge of the 12th Royal Scots of the 27th Brigade. The South African companies could now move towards their objective. In the meanwhile, the 4th Regiment on the left of the divisional flank, had managed to take Beck House and Borry Farm.

Once the first objective had been consolidated the 1st and 2nd Regiments, respectively on the right and the left, renewed the advance. The 1st Regiment, like the 3rd Regiment, reached its objective without much opposition. But the 2nd Regiment faced German resistance. After the 2nd had passed Mitchell’s Farm it became apparent that the advance of the 55th Division, on the left of the South Africans, had been checked. At the same time the men came under fire from Waterend House and from the high ground at Tulip Cottages and Hill 37.

Notwithstanding the persistent machine-gun- and rifle fire, the 2nd managed to clear the German defences at Zevenkote and Bremen Redoubt in front of them, though the men were still under fire from Tulip Cottages in the 55th divisional area. The 2nd threw out a defensive flank to the south bank of the Zonnebeke stream until the 55th Division on their left flank had caught up. By 5.50 pm the 55th Division finally captured Tullip Cottages, securing the left flank of the 2nd Regiment. And by nightfall, the 9th (Scottish) Division managed to consolidate all objectives.

David Henry Harrison was killed in action on 20 September 1917, a day before his 19th birthday. He was buried in the field near Bostin Farm, near his regiment’s final objective. His remains were interred in Tyne Cot Cemetery after the war.