The Queens Own Royal West Kent Regiment

Sergeant T J Harris



Photograph by "chris(tine) eaton" - edited                                                      Photograph provided by Tony Grant of the Snodland Historical Society

Sergeant Thomas James  Harris, G/358, 6th Battalion, Queens Own Royal West Kent Regiment, killed in action, Flanders France,  9 August 1918, aged 26.

Born Upper Halling Kent, son of William John and Sarah Ann Harris, of 6, Manor Terrace, Halling, Rochester, Kent.

1911 Census - 6, Manor Terrace, Halling, Rochester, Kent - William John Harris, head, age 51, married, cement labourer, cement works, worker, born Halling, Kent; Sarah Ann Harris, wife, age 49, married 32 years, 9 children, 7 still alive, born Birling, Kent; Alfred Thomas Harris, son, age 28, single, cement labourer, cement works, worker, born Halling, Kent; Thomas James Harris, son, age 19, single, cement labourer, cement works, worker, born Halling, Kent; Mrs E Whibley, daughter, age 21, married under 1 year, no children, born Halling, Kent; Ellen Mary Harris, daughter, age 15, single, born Halling, Kent; Frederick Henry Harris, son, age 6, born Halling, Kent.

Crossed through entries - Arthur Harris, son, age 24, single, born Halling, Kent; Mark Harris, son, age 12, born Halling, Kent.

Enlisted Maidstone Kent, age 22 years, height 5ft 7½ inches, weight 160lbs, complexion pale, blue eyes, brown hair. Formerly general labourer.

Home, 27th August 1914 to 31st May 1915; BEF, 1st June 1915 to 5th July 1916; Home, 6th July 1916 to 22nd May 1917; BEF, 23rd May 1917 to 9 August 1918.

27th August 1914, enlisted & posted Depot, Royal West Kent Regiment; 30th August 1914, posted 6th Battalion, Royal West Kent Regiment; 1st June 1915, posted BEF; 9th July 1915, appointed unpaid Lance Corporal; 1st October 1915, appointed Lance Corporal; 15th March 1916, appointed Acting Corporal; 1st June 1916, confirmed as Corporal; 2nd July 1916, wounded  shrapnel wound right side (hip); 6th July 1916, to England; 6th July 1916, posted Depot, Royal West Kent Regiment; 8th July 1916 to 25th August 1916, 2nd Western General Hospital, Manchester, shrapnel wound, left side; fragment of shell removed from ????; free discharge from lowest part of wound; further shrapnel evidenced on probings; wound extended fragment removed, larger portion beyond grasp of forceps; fragment of shrapnel removed under anaesthetic; steady progress, wound healing; 20th September 1916, posted Eastern Command Depot, Shoreham-by-Sea, has had a course of leg drill; 10th December 1916, posted 3rd Battalion, Royal West Kent Regiment; 23rd May 1917, posted BEF & 7th Battalion, Royal West Kent Regiment; 12th June 1917, posted 6th Battalion, Royal West Kent Regiment; 7th February to 21st February 1918, leave to England to be presented with Military Medal; 28th March 1918, appointed Acting Sergeant & promoted Sergeant; 1st July 1918, wounded in Action  shell wounds, hands; 20th July 1918,  rejoined Battalion.

27th June 1919, Statement of Relatives - Father, William Thomas Harris, age 60; Mother, Sarah Ann Harris, age 58; Brothers - William L Harris, age 40, 29 Upper Range Road, Gravesend; Alfred T Harris, age 38, 4, Manor Terrace, Halling; Herbert H Harris, age 36, 8, Manor Terrace, Halling; Frederick H. Harris, age 15, 6, Manor Terrace, Halling; Sisters - Eliza Ann Harris, age 30, 2 Church Place, Halling; Ellen Mary Harris, age 26, Fairy? Villas?, Cliff, Hoo.

Buried at Dernancourt Communal Cemetery Extension, Somme, France, VIII. J. 20. and Commemorated at St. John the Baptist Church, Halling, Kent.


Link to Snodland Historical Society - where you can find more details about Sergeant HARRIS and their War Memorial Project

London Gazette 12th June 1918.

His Majesty the KING has been graciously pleased to approve of the award of the Military Medal for bravery in the Field to the under mentioned Non-Commissioned Officers and Men:

358 A/Cpl. T J Harris, Royal West Kent Regiment, (Upper Halling).

London Gazette 22nd October 1918.

His Majesty the KING has been graciously pleased to approve of the award of the Victoria Cross to the under mentioned Non Commissioned Officers and Men:

No. 358 Sjt Thomas James Harris, MM., late Royal West Kent Regiment, (Lower Halling, Kent).

For conspicuous bravery and devotion to duty in attack when the advance was much impeded by hostile machine guns concealed in crops and shell holes. Sjt Harris led his section against one of those, capturing it and killing seven of the enemy.

Later, on two successive occasions, he attacked single handed two enemy machine guns which were causing heavy causalities and holding up the advance. He captured the first gun and killed the crew, but was himself killed when attacking the second one.

It was largely due to the great courage and initiative of this gallant N.C.O. that the advance of the battalion was continued without delay and undue causalities. Throughout the operations he showed a total disregard for his own personal safety, and set a magnificent example to all ranks.

London Gazette Monday 31st March 1919.

The services for which the Victoria Cross was awarded by His Majesty to the under mentioned Officers, Warrant Officers, Non Commissioned Officers and men were at the places and on the dates mentioned:

Name and Regiment : 358 Sgt T J Harris, MM, late 6th Battalion, Royal West Kent Regiment.

Theatre of War: Morlancourt, France

Date of Deed: 9th August 1918.

Gazette Date: 22nd October 1918.

                                                      VICTORIA CROSS

click on thumbnails for larger picture

The line reached on the 8th August 1918 ran north east of Ville sur Ancre and was close up to the edge of Morlancourt  (France) ; the battalion was on the left of the attack with The Queens and Buffs beyond it and assembled along the  Morlancourt - Ville sur Ancre road. At 5.30 pm the attack was launched under a barrage and the battalion pushed forward, meeting most determined opposition. The hostile machine guns were mostly concentrated in the standing crops and in shell holes, and for a moment the attack seemed bound to be held up. That this did not happen was due to the gallantry and devotion of Sergeant T J Harris, who rushed one of these guns at the head of his section and captured it. Twice again the advance proceeded the same thing happened; each time Sergeant Harris dashed forward against the obstructing machine guns. In the first instance he was again successful, killing the whole team single handed; the second time he was himself shot, but his example had inspired all of those around him and the advance swept on. A posthumous V.C. fittingly recognised his splendid achievement.                                                               

Great War Illustrated 9th November 1918

Sergeant  Thomas James HARRIS, V.C., MM., late Royal West Kent Regiment, was posthumously awarded the Victoria Cross for great courage and initiative during an advance of his battalion. Hostile machine guns, hidden in crops and shell holes were impeding the advance and Sergeant HARRIS led his section against one of these, capturing and killing seven of the enemy. Twice he attacked two enemy machine guns single handed, capturing the first and killing the crew, but losing his own life when attacking the second.

This page was last updated on 24-Sep-2019.

Copyright   © 2008 Janet & Richard Mason