Harris, James Alfred

Hull Pals Memorial Post. Private, JAMES ALFRED HARRIS, 28057. Born Hull, 1894, the youngest of eight children to George and Elizabeth Harris, of 56, Constable Street, Hessle Road, Hull. James worked as a Labourer at Reckitt’s. He joined Reckitt’s KW Packing section, on 5th February 1907. His life changed forever, when he enlisted for the 1/4th Battalion East Yorkshire Regiment, on 30/04/1912. When war came he was transferred to the 10th Battalion, training and fighting alongside the Pals. He was posted to France, on 11/10/1916. James was killed in action on 24th March 1918, in the trenches west of the village of Envillers, where the battalion had dug in to help stop the German advance which had begun on the 21st and threatened to overrun the Allied lines. The defeat of Russia in the east had led to an influx of battle-hardened troops in the trenches of the Western Front. In a bid to win the war before the arrival of American forces over the summer, the German High Command chose to attack the point at which the British and French forces met, hoping the dual command would be sent into disarray and the armies crushed before they could regroup. So began the Spring Offensive. That is what a history book will tell you, but there is nothing like an eye witness account. The 10th was at rest when the attack struck and was rushed forward on a dramatic overnight march: “It was moonlight, but that only served to show up the severity of the bombardment which the villages along the road had suffered. Progress was hindered by houses which had collapsed across the road, while recent shell-holes had to be skirted, the men were unutterably weary and only half able to guide their feet through lack of sleep. To add to the horror, some building miles ahead was burning fiercely. This, in time, turned out to be an Expeditionary Force Canteen, and that it was being burned to prevent it falling into the enemy’s hands showed the seriousness of the situation.”

James Alfred Harris had served in the army for 5 years and 320 days. His name is recorded on the St Mark Street Memorial, Hull. His war pension went to his widow, Annie Elizabeth Featherstone (1894-1918), at 7, Hannah’s Terrace, Spyvee Street, Hull (war pension address). When Annie sadly died of Influenza, on 18/11/1918, their daughter, Jane, went to stay with her father, at 4, Alma Terrace, Hodgson Street, Hull and her son James, went to Mrs King, c/o, The Poplars, Waveney Street, Hull (War Pension Addresses). Both Parents deceased. James also left four brothers, and sister, Mary.

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Arras Memorial, Pas de Calais, France
56, Constable Street, Hessle Road, Hull., UK