Private Walter Thomas Ewart Harris, d. 13 Nov 1920

Private Walter Thomas Ewart Harris, copyright John Harris
Private Walter Thomas Ewart Harris, copyright John Harris

Walter Thomas Ewart Harris was born in the summer of 1898 in Swindon. Walter and his family lived at Number 46 High Street. This house was owned by W J Comley in 1914, (probably William James Comley from number 124).

Walter’s father was Edward Harris. Edward was born in Wootton Bassett in about 1870. He was a sawmill labourer working for the Great Western Railway youtube video downloaden. In 1893 he married Charlotte née Matthews, who had an illegitimate son Frederick Jacob Matthews. Edward and Charlotte had six children together, Martha, who died in 1905 aged 13, Francis Edward, William John, Walter Thomas Edward, James Albert, born in 1901, and Dorothy Margaret, born in 1906. In 1901 the family were living in Sparrow Lane and by 1911 they had moved to Coxstalls. Charlotte’s son Frederick was a groom, and a member of the YMCA. He died at Coxstalls in 1912, aged 23, after three years of illness. Edward and Charlotte were listed at 46 High Street in the 1918 electoral roll, when three of their sons, Francis, William, and Walter, were absent military voters herunterladen.

Walter enlisted on 7th Apr 1915 and was immediately posted to the 7th (Service) Battalion of the Wiltshire Regiment as a Private (19398). He went out to France on 22nd Sep 1915. He was transferred to Salonika later that year and remained there for nearly three years. He was listed as an absent military voter at 46 High Street in the 1918 electoral roll and did not come home for his first leave until Aug 1918. One can hardly imagine how transformed he must have been by his experiences.

After his leave Walter was sent back to France where the 7th Battalion were attached to 150th Brigade in 50th (Northumbrian) Division youtube videos downloaden wie. The 7th Battalion marched to Le Cateau, where they were billeted on the night of 29th Oct 1918. On the following afternoon, 30th Oct 1918, the Battalion relieved the 9th Devon Regiment in the line, where Walter and his brother William were wounded, both on the same day. Walter was badly wounded in the head and was brought back to England and treated in hospital in Nottingham. He was discharged from the army, no longer physically fit for service, on 27th Jan 1919.

Walter remained in hospital until Feb 1919, by which time he had sufficiently recovered to be sent home to Wiltshire. He spent the next few months training as a poultry farmer in Chiseldon, under the care of the Swindon Training Centre for Disabled Ex-Service Men bücher lesen kostenlos download. He married Gladys Norris, of 169 High Street, in Sep 1920, but his happiness was short lived.

On 13th Oct 1920 he took a turn for the worse and returned home from Chiseldon. A week later he was taken to Ward 7 of the Royal United Hospital in Bath, then known as the Bath War Pensions Hospital, where he underwent four operations. Everything possible was done for him, but he passed away early in the morning of Saturday 13th Nov 1920. Walter’s body was brought home from Bath on the following Wednesday morning, and the funeral took place in the afternoon all photos from icloud at once. The coffin was of polished elm with brass furniture, and a plate engraved with the inscription: “WALTER T HARRIS Died Nov 13th 1920, Aged 22 years.”

The coffin was covered with a Union Jack, and Walter’s helmet and belt were placed upon it. The cortège was met by a firing party at the headquarters of the Discharged Sailors’ and Soldiers’ Federation in Wootton Bassett. The procession moved slowly along the High Street, led by the band of the Wilts Depot at Devizes playing Chopin’s March Funèbre, and followed by over a hundred discharged soldiers and sailors, members of the parish council, and members of the town football club. It must have been an impressive and sombre sight.

The first part of the burial service was read in the parish church by Reverend Cowie. The church was crowded, and some of the shops were closed during the hour of the service. The Vicar, Reverend Mathias, read the lesson. The cortège then proceeded to Wootton Bassett Cemetery, where Walter was laid to rest with his grandfather, Jacob Matthews. The grave was beautifully lined with laurel leaves and laurestina by Joseph Wiltshire as a token of his personal respect and esteem, and tributes included wreaths and flowers from several old friends including Mervyn Edmonds, who had served in the Canadian Army, and Henry Charles Woodward, also of the 7th Wiltshire Regiment. As Reverend Cowie concluded the service, the firing party fired three volleys, and the Last Post was sounded.

Today, Private Walter Thomas Harris’s grave is unmarked. He is remembered on the brass memorial tablet in St Bartholomew’s Church and on the paper Roll of Honour whether he is listed incorrectly as Walter Thomas Hewer Harris. Both his birth and Death Registrations confirm that his middle name is Ewart, not Hewer. On the Wootton Bassett war memorial, his middle initial is incorrectly written as H.

The Bath Chronicle and Weekly Gazette reported:

Sad reminders of the war are constantly cropping up. Among the deaths officially reported to the Health Committee on Monday the Medical Officer of Health for the city under the heading “violent” was a case of gunshot wound the head. On making inquiries I find this record related to a poor fellow who died at the Pensions Hospital, Combe Park — ex-Private Walter Harris, aged 22, Wootton Bassett. He seemed to have recovered from his wound, but septic enciphalitis set in, and from this he succumbed. Enciphalitis, I believe, is the medical description of inflammation of brain tissue.

Bath Chronicle and Weekly Gazette – Saturday 25 December 1920

I have written to the Commonwealth War Graves Commission to request that Private Harris be brought “in from the cold” and given a CWGC headstone. The case is now in adjudication.

Walter’s brother Francis Edward Harris

Francis was born in 1894, the eldest of the brothers. He was a draper’s shop assistant doing outside work, which probably included measuring and estimating, or perhaps delivering and installing soft furnishings. He was listed as an absent military voter at 46 High Street in the 1918 electoral roll, but I have not been able to confirm his service record.

Walter’s brother William John Harris

William was born in 1896 and was working as a farm labourer in 1911. He joined up on the same day as his brother, Walter. He was listed as an absent military voter at 46 High Street in the 1918 electoral roll. On the afternoon of 30th Oct 1918, the Battalion relieved the 9th Devon Regiment in the line, and it was probably here that William and his brother Walter were wounded, both on the same day, just two weeks before the Armistice. William was taken to a hospital in Yorkshire but was later transferred to the Royal United Hospital in Bath, then known as the Bath War Pensions Hospital, for surgery on his temple. William later married Rose Lawrence from the Curriers Arms.

Walter’s father Edward died at 46 High Street in 1927.

2 thoughts on “Private Walter Thomas Ewart Harris, d. 13 Nov 1920

  1. I will be forever in your debt for this very moving tribute Sheridan, please accept my sincere thanks for all your work regarding my Uncle Wally. My father William John very rarely spoke about his time serving the King in this terrible war but I did know he suffered an injury on the same day as his brother Walter. After his death on December 10th 1956, aged 60, my mother gave me several memento’s. One such item, which I still have in my possession, is a small round metal ball which the surgeon removed from my fathers head just behind his ear. Apparently this was referred to as a snipers bullet. Despite Grandad and Granny Harris raising a number of offspring I was the only boy to keep the Harris name alive. Molly and I were married in June 1954 and in November 1956 Molly gave birth to twin girls. So very sadly the Harris name ends with me. I was 87 last August and both my older sisters are no longer with us. Thank you again John Harris.

  2. Thank you John, it was my privilege to remember him. I will let you know when I hear from the CWGC.

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