HARRISON, Pte. Thomas Johnson – 5869 – 28th Battalion.

Pte. HARRISON survived wounding, gassing, illness and  many additional traumas experienced throughout two years of War Service. He was desperately unlucky to be killed by a bomb dropped from an enemy plane, whilst behind the lines , near Franvillers, France, on 1 June, 1918.

 

Pte. Thomas Johnson HARRISON  was living in Constitution Street, South Bunbury WA and working as a Dairy Hand, when he chose to enlist for War Service on 20 June, 1916.  He was allocated to the 28th Battalion 15th Reinforcements, for training at Blackboy Hill Camp, W.A. He embarked from Fremantle, WA, on 13 October, 1916, aboard the troop ship ” Suffolk “, bound for England. He disembarked at Plymouth on 2 December, 1916.

Pte. JOHNSON underwent  a brief training stint at Rollestone England, before embarking from Folkestone, for transfer to the  2nd Australian Division Base Depot, Etaples France.  On 27 January, 1917, he joined the 28th Battalion in the field, on the Western Front. On 25th April 1917, he suffered a Gunshot Wound to the foot.  He was conveyed by the 5th Australian Field Ambulance to the 49th Casualty Clearing Station, for initial treatment. He was  transferred to the 3rd Stationary Hospital at Rouen France , then experienced a  lengthy period of convalescence at a number of depots. Pte. JOHNSON was not cleared to return to duty with the 28th Battalion, until 14 August 1917.

On 29 October, 1917, he was severely gassed whilst in the field in France.  He was conveyed by  the 3rd Australian Field Ambulance to the 10th Casualty Clearing Station, for treatment. Pte. JOHNSON was not responding well, so on the following day, was taken by Ambulance Train for admittance to the 53rd General Hospital at Boulogne, France. When little improvement eventuated, Pte. JOHNSON was evacuated and admitted to the Venice Street Hospital, affiliated with the 1st Western General Hospital at Liverpool, England, on 22 November, 1917.  He was considered to be sufficiently recovered by 5 January, 1918 ,when he was granted two weeks Leave in England.

Pte. JOHNSON attended the No. 4 Command Depot at Hurdcott, England, following his period of leave, however a bout of Scabies saw him hospitalized again on 11 February, 1918. Following convalescence, he transferred to the Convalescent Training Depot at Parkhouse, on 2 April, 1918.  He was then posted to the Overseas Training Brigade at Longbridge Deverill England, on 18 April, 1918, to prepare for his return to the Western Front in France. On 15 May, 1918, Pte. JOHNSON embarked from Folkestone, bound for the Australian Division Base Depot at Havre, France. He rejoined the 28th Battalion in the field in France, on 21st May 1918.

Within 10 days, whilst behind the lines, Pte. JOHNSON was killed by a bomb dropped from an enemy aircraft at 1.45 a.m on 1 June 1918.  He was only 25 years of age. The incident happened between the Villages of La Houssoye and Franvillers, when 2 bombs were dropped, killing JOHNSON and 26 other Battalion mates, instantly. The manual dropping of bombs was an extremely  rare cause of death for Australian Service Personnel during the Great War 1914 – 1918.  The Army Base Records Office wrote to the soldier’s Mother in England, to explain her son’s demise:-

” Dear Madam,  With reference to the report of the regrettable loss of your son, the late No. 5869, Private T.J. HARRISON, 28th Battalion, I am now in receipt of advice which shows that he was killed at 1.45a.m. on 1st June, 1918, by a bomb dropped from  a hostile aeroplane , between Lahoussoye and Franvillers, death being instantaneous.  He was buried in Franvillers Military Cemetery and a suitable cross has been erected over the grave “.

 

SERVICE MEDALS AWARDED

British War Medal – No. 49934

Victory Medal – No. 49294

Memorial Plaque/Scroll – No. 346235

 

MEMORIAL INSCRIPTIONS

Bunbury War Memorial, WA

Australian War Memorial, Canberra, ACT – Panel No. 113

 

BURIAL LOCATION

Franvillers Community Cemetery Extension – Plot I, Row D, Grave No. 13B.

Franvillers is a Village that stands on high ground above the Ancre River, approx. 6 kms from Corbie, between the major towns of Amiens and Albert, France.