The AIF Project

Ernest William HARRIS

Regimental number1463
Place of birthSydney, New South Wales
SchoolJames Street Public School, Perth, Western Australia
ReligionChurch of England
OccupationClerk
Marital statusSingle
Age at embarkation25
Next of kinMother, Mrs Bertha Harris, Claremont Avenue, Claremont, Western Australia
Previous military serviceEnlisted in 11th AIR on 8th March, 1906. Discharged 17th January, 1910. Promoted to Corporal 1st July, 1908.
Enlistment date5 January 1915
Rank on enlistmentPrivate
Unit name12th Battalion, 3rd Reinforcement
AWM Embarkation Roll number23/29/2
Embarkation detailsUnit embarked from Fremantle, Western Australia, on board HMAT A50 Itonus on 22 February 1915
Regimental number from Nominal RollCommissioned
Rank from Nominal Roll2nd Lieutenant
Unit from Nominal Roll3rd Machine Gun Company
Other details from Roll of Honour Circular"Served 7 months at Gallipoli with Machine Guns 12th Battalion. Wounded on 20th July, 1915 and returned to trenches 6 weeks later. In 1916 as L/Cpl he held a position at Pozieres with 10 men and 2 Machine Guns for 68 hours without food and water under heavy fire. When relieved only he and one man survived. After which he was sent to England for his Commission." Details from Mother.
FateKilled in Action 5 May 1917
Place of death or woundingBullecourt, France
Age at death27.9
Age at death from cemetery records27
Place of burialNo known grave
Commemoration detailsAustralian National Memorial, Villers-Bretonneux, France

Villers-Bretonneux is a village about 15 km east of Amiens. The Memorial stands on the high ground ('Hill 104') behind the Villers-Bretonneux Military Cemetery, Fouilloy, which is about 2 km north of Villers-Bretonneux on the east side of the road to Fouilloy.

The Australian National Memorial, Villers-Bretonneux is approached through the Military Cemetery, at the end of which is an open grass lawn which leads into a three-sided court. The two pavilions on the left and right are linked by the north and south walls to the back (east) wall, from which rises the focal point of the Memorial, a 105 foot tall tower, of fine ashlar. A staircase leads to an observation platform, 64 feet above the ground, from which further staircases lead to an observation room. This room contains a circular stone tablet with bronze pointers indicating the Somme villages whose names have become synonymous with battles of the Great War; other battle fields in France and Belgium in which Australians fought; and far beyond, Gallipoli and Canberra.

On the three walls, which are faced with Portland stone, are the names of 10,885 Australians who were killed in France and who have no known grave. The 'blocking course' above them bears the names of the Australian Battle Honours.

After the war an appeal in Australia raised £22,700, of which £12,500 came from Victorian school children, with the request that the majority of the funds be used to build a new school in Villers-Bretonneux. The boys' school opened in May 1927, and contains an inscription stating that the school was the gift of Victorian schoolchildren, twelve hundred of whose fathers are buried in the Villers-Bretonneux cemetery, with the names of many more recorded on the Memorial. Villers-Bretonneux is now twinned with Robinvale, Victoria, which has in its main square a memorial to the links between the two towns.

Miscellaneous information from
  cemetery records
Parents: George and Ottilie Bertha HARRIS, Claremont Avenue, Claremont, Western Australia
Family/military connectionsOne of 15 cousins who served with the AIF Marleon Charles Webb (Qld), Roy Rervars (NSW) and Wm Harris (Victoria) were killed. Nephew to Andrew Stenhouse (S.A.) who gained MM.

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