Remembering over 100 years on Ellis Harrison

Remembering over 100 years on, Private Ellis Harrison, who was a simple farm boy, born in Taranaki New Zealand and was sadly killed on 1st October 1916. His first day on the front. He was only 22 years old.

Ellis Harrison
Remembering Private E. E. Harrison

Since July 2014, remembrance ceremonies have been taking place all around the world,

to mark 100 years since the start of the Great War.

A few years ago, while on holiday, our family drove to the Somme to visit his memorial in Northern France. Unlike the rest of the battleground, the landscape around the village of Longueval is benign and scant, still struggling to recover from the decimation a century ago. There are no quaint buildings of note, no classic French architecture, nothing at all curious to the eye.

However, among all the green desolation stands Caterpillar Cemetery. The gardens are respectful, pristine and manicured.

Ellis Harrison
Ellis’ name stands engraved on the memorial wall: there is no marked headstone for him, as he was never found.
How do you acknowledge an ancestor killed on the other side of the world over a hundred years ago?

To linger in the Caterpillar Cemetery and read the names of these young men and their New Zealand origins, is not easy. Even on holiday our mere presence here evokes a strange longing for home.

So we recognised him the best way we could do at the rime, ran our fingers through the engraves letters on the wall name and tied our ‘All Blacks’ flag in the nearest tree, leaving it to flutter in the breeze.

Ellis Harrison
Auckland War Memorial Museum Fields of Remembrance April 2016
Pte E. E. Harrison

On the night of the 100th anniversary of Ellis’ death a few of our family went out to celebrate his life. If Ellis had been anything like the rest of the family he too should have grown old, enjoying the warmth of family, grandkids and gatherings like ours.

“One can simply hope that in another 100 years another group of our family will get together and remember Ellis and his mates, and have a drink for him. It would be unthinkable to forget”

Our next step to remembering Private Harrison was to create a Memorial Page so we could continue our bond. Who do you wish to remember?

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