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© Barns Green - A Local History of The Great War 2014
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Thomas Edmund Harrison (1879- 1914) – Lieut Commander Royal Navy Thomas   Edmund   Harrison ,   the   second   son   of   Mathew   and   Lucy   Harrison   of   Shiprods,    was born on the 16 th  April 1879 and joined the Royal Navy at the age of 15 as a Midshipman. A   career   Naval   Officer   he   served   on   a   large   number   of   ships   and   shore   bases   and   worked   his   way up   through   Sub-Lieutenant   (1898)   and   Lieutenant   (1899)   to   the   rank   of   Lieutenant   Commander in 1907. His   record   charts   the   progression   of   a   clever,   zealous,   trustworthy   young   officer   with   just   one slight   blemish   where   a   commanding   officer   notes   that   “he   has   twice   had   to   be   warned   that   he drinks more wine than is good for him” ! It   seems   however   that   by   about   1913   his   enthusiasm   for   the   Navy   was   waning,   due   perhaps   to the   fact   that   he   had   applied   for   but   failed   to   get   a   position   of   Acting   Commander.   In   January 1914   his   record   notes   that   he   had   applied   for   a   Coast   Guard   position   and   then   in   April   1914   that he had been placed, at his own request, on the retired list. Quite   what   he   was   doing   on   HMS   Akoubir   in   the   September   of   that   year   is   not   clear   but   he certainly   was   on   the   ship   off   the   Dutch   coast   on   the   22 nd    of   the   month   when   she   was   sunk   by   a German torpedo. Three   more   or   less   obsolete   cruisers   –   Akoubir,   Houge   and   Cressy   –   manned   mostly   by   reservists   and   part   of   the   7 th    Cruiser   Squadron were   on   patrol   in   the   North   Sea   when,   due   to   heavy   weather   on   17 th    September,   the   squadron's   accompanying   destroyers   had   been forced   to   return   to   shore.   Shortly   afterwards   their   flagship   -   Euryalus-   also   returned   to   port,   this   time   for   re-fuelling   on   the   20 th, leaving the three old ships very much to their own devices. Little   if   any   action   was   expected   and   submarines   were,   at   that   point,   not   considered   a   significant   threat   so   the   three   aging   ships   proved a   tempting   target,   and   “easy   meat”   for   U   boat      U9   (under   the   command   of   Kapitänleutnant   Otto   Weddigen),   passing   through   on   her way back to base. Akoubir, Houge and Cressy were all sunk with a loss of some 1400 men. Thomas   Edmund   Harrison   has   no   grave   but   is   commemorated   on   a   number   of   memorials,   including   the   Chatham   Naval   Memorial.   For his service he was awarded the 1914/15 Star, the Victory and British War Medals. Thomas’s service record survives and can be found at the National Archives in Kew.  
The Fallen