Albert HARRISON M.M.
Rank: Corporal
Number: 15464
Unit: 1/5th Battalion South Lancashire Regiment
Date of Death: 11 April 1918
Age: 31
Cemetery: Beuvry Communal Cemetery, Pas de Calais, France

Albert was the son of Councillor Walter Harrison and Harriet Harrison of 11 Councillor Lane, Cheadle Hulme. He is understood to have lived on Chester Road, Hazel Grove, with his wife Annie.

He had attended Levenshulme Free Church School and Grove Lane Sunday School. In his younger days, he had played football for the local team. He was a member of Cheadle Hulme Conservative Club.

Albert travelled to Macclesfield, Cheshire to enlist; his service number suggesting this might have been in late 1914/early 1915

On 18 February 1917, Albert went into action, near Ypres in Belgium and would win the Military Medal for his bravery. The award was confirmed in the edition of the London Gazette of 26 April 1917, although there is no mention of the incident in the Battalion's official War Diary.

The Stockport Advertiser, 13 April 1917, described it. "Pte Harrison, having along with other men, volunteered for a raid on a certain German trench, reached it, but they discovered that the wire entanglements at the front had not been severed by the artillery, as anticipated and, consequently, they were held up and subjected to heavy fire. The officer in charge sent four men to report the circumstances to the Colonel but none returned. Eventually, Pte Harrison was dispatched and finding, near the home lines, the four messengers wounded, he placed them in a ditch for shelter and, after delivering his message, assisted in carrying them to safety. He subsequently returned to the trench with orders and after covering two of his officers with his rifle, whilst they endeavoured unsuccessfully to take back with them the body of a fallen officer, eventually reached the British line unscathed."

In November 1917, he was involved in the Battle of Cambrai and narrowly escaped being taken prisoner.

On 8 April, 1918, Albert's Battalion was in reserve at Beuvry, to the south west of the town of Bethune. It was a quiet day and the unit's football team had lost the final of a Brigade competition. Early the next morning, the German army opened a massive artillery bombardment along the whole of this part of the Western Front. The offensive had been expected and the South Lancashires had been practicing their role should the attack materialise. At 5.30am, they were ordered to their designated defensive positions. By 9am, the enemy's infantry had used the cover of a thick mist to attack the trenches on either side of the Lancashires.  The official history reports that "our posts of determined infantry and machine gunners held on and, time after time, the attackers were driven back, leaving numerous prisoners in our hands and many dead on the ground." Severe fighting continued throughout the day and the next day.

By the evening of 10 April, the Germans broke off their infantry attacks and the night passed quietly. This allowed the British to work to re-strengthen the defences. The next day, there was no significant attack, but the Germans continued an artillery bombardment of the front line and Albert was reported to have killed by a shell. He was one of 23 killed in the three days of the offensive. Also killed on the same day was local man, John King.

(Note: Original research by John Hartley for the Cheadle & Gatley War Memorials website)

   
           
   
     
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