Private, 13468, Thomas Harrison (37) – Killed In Action

7th East Yorkshire Regiment, 12th November 1916

Caterpillar Valley Cemetery where Thomas Harrison is buried – ©CWGC

The Sunderland Daily Echo dated 18 December 1916

Extract from the above publication :-

Local Casualties


Mrs Harrison, 4, Powell Terrace, Ryhope Colliery, has received official news that her husband. Private Thomas Harrison, East Yorks, was killed in action on November 12th (1916). Private Harrison was 37, and enlisted in October, 1914. Prior to enlistment he was employed as a coal hewer at Ryhope Colliery. He leaves a widow and five children. Out of five brothers three have made the great sacrifice. Another brother was on board the Lusitania when the vessel was sunk and was amongst the saved, and the other brother has been wounded.

Synopsis of Life and Military Service

Thomas Harrison was born in Leeds, around 1879 probably to George Edward and Elizabeth Harrison. His father had been a Coal Miner. It is believed that Thomas was baptised on 2 March 1881 at St Albans the Martyr Church, Leeds. Very little is known of his early life other than he was employed as a coal hewer at Ryhope Colliery prior to the war.

He enlisted into the East Yorkshire Regiment at Sunderland in October 1914 and was to join the 8th Battalion of the same regiment. He was then transferred to France/ Flanders with his unit on the 9th September 1915, and at some point was transferred to the 7th Battalion. On the date of his death, his unit was engaged in defence trench duties near Bapaume, Somme, France. They had received some attention from enemy artillery and snipers and had sent some patrols out to counter the sniping (See the Battalion Diary, below). Thomas was killed in action probably while involved in one of these instances. Thomas was brought in from one of the battlefield cemeteries around 1921 and identified by his disc and reburied at Caterpillar Valley Cemetery, Longueval, Somme, France.

Diary for the 7th East Yorkshire Regiment

12th November 1916

Extract from the above War Diary :-

Enemy artillery was active at 6 a.m. to 10 a.m. on the Support, Front Line and there was the usual desultory shelling of WINDMILL. Parties showing themselves in daylight near WINDMILL were invariably shelled. Enemy probably had an observation post in the church tower, BAPAUME.

Sniping by the enemy greatly diminished during the 24 hours, our snipers dominating the position. One sniping post was dispersed, and reports from snipers showed that at least probably eleven of the enemy had been hit. About 10 men walking from FINCH towards LE TRANSLOY were dispersed by our fire, and appeared to run back to a trench.

At 6.55 a patrol was sent from right of ZENITH to gain touch with left of SUMMER (2nd Scottish Rifles). This patrol was fired at from close range, and eventually reached DEWDROP trench. An officer and an orderly then went across but the Orderly was killed. There was apparently a strong post held by the enemy between the left flank of SUMMER and right of ZENITH.

During the night, work was carried on attempting to join ZENITH to right Battalion (2nd Scottish Rifles). The working party consisted of 40 men, and they worked from 1.15 a.m. to 5 a.m., sixty yards, with two traverses, completed, the depth being 4 feet, the width 2’6″.

At night the Battalion was relieved by the 3rd Coldstream Guards, and our relief companies marched to “A’ Camp.


Thomas Harrison was born in Leeds, around 1879 probably to George Edward and Elizabeth Harrison.

His family is shown as follows :-

  • Wife: Mary Ann Harrison, born c.1882 at Trimdon Grange, Durham.
  • Son: John Henry Stafford, born 3 October 1907 at Sunderland.
  • Son: Arthur, born 20 February 1909 at Ryhope, Durham.
  • Daughter: Elizabeth, born 20 March 1911 at Ryhope, Durham.
  • Son: James, born 7 October 1913.
  • Daughter: Jane Ann, born 14 October 1914.
  • Father: Probably George Edward Harrison.
  • Mother: Probably Elizabeth Harrison.
  • Brother: George, born c.1891 at Ryhope, Durham.
  • Brother: James, born c.1893 at Ryhope, Durham.

In the 1911 census his family also had a domestic servant.


From information found in the 1911 Census and Pension card, the following addresses have been ascertained.

  • 1911: Residing with wife and children at 24 Byden Terrace, Ryhope.
  • 1917: 4 Powell Terrace, Ryhope, Durham.


Thomas Harrison was awarded the 1914-15 Star, Victory and the British War Medals for his service in the Great War.


Thomas Harrison is honoured and remembered on the following War Memorials :-

  • Holy Trinity Book of Remembrance, currently at Donnison School Heritage and Education Centre, Sunderland.
  • Sunderland WW1 and WW2 Memorial – Although he isn’t specifically named on this memorial as it is an unnamed memorial, he would have undoubtedly been remembered here.
Sunderland WW1 and WW2 Memorial – © IWM – Brian Baggaley (WMR-72721)

Links to Additional Information


  •  Commonwealth War Graves Commission.
  • Medal Index Card.
  • Medal Roll – East Yorkshire Regiment – Victory and British War Medal.
  • Medal Roll – East Yorkshire Regiment – 1914-15 Star.
  • Soldiers Died in the Great War.
  • The National Archive – 7th East Yorkshire Regiment War Diary.
  • Register of Soldiers Effects
  • Pension Card.
  • 1911 Census.
  • The Sunderland Daily Echo dated 18 December 1916.



  • Vincent Stuart
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