Kenora Great War Project


Personal Details
Date of BirthNovember 13, 1883
Place of BirthAbingdon, Berkshire
Marital StatusSingle
Next of KinMuriel Harris, 4 Carlyle Square, Chelsea, London, England
Trade / CallingClerk
ReligionChurch of England
Service Details
Regimental Number1302
Service Record Link to Service Record
BattalionNo 4 Canadian Field Ambulance
ForceCanadian Expeditionary Force
BranchCanadian Army Medical Corps
Enlisted / ConscriptedEnlisted
Date of EnlistmentNovember 10, 1914
Age at Enlistment31
Theatre of ServiceEurope
Prisoner of WarNo
Survived WarYes
Death Details
Date of DeathSeptember 9, 1961
Age at Death78
Buried AtVancouver Crematorium, Vancouver, British Columbia

Harris, Edward John

Edward John Harris was born on 13 November 1883 in Abingdon, Berkshire, England. His parents Frank Henry Harris, an emery wheel and machine maker, and Sarah Jane Reeves had married during the first quarter of 1878 in the registration district of Wantage in Berkshire. Edward had two older siblings, Muriel Hannah (1879) and Henry Reeves (1882) and two younger siblings, Wilfred March (1887) and Mary Gertrude (1889). At some point after the death of father Frank in 1891 the family unit disintegrated, with mother Sarah working as a domestic/lady’s companion in Burghclere, Hampshire by the time of the 1901 census. Another child, a daughter, may have been born around the time of his death. At the time of the 1901 census Edward was living in Hornsey in Middlesex and working as a solicitor’s clerk. Although an immigration record was not found, it appears that Edward immigrated to Canada around 1907.

Edward enlisted in Winnipeg on 10 November 1914. His occupation was given as clerk and his sister Muriel back in England as next of kin. As a Private with the No 4 Canadian Field Ambulance that had recruited in the Winnipeg area, Edward embarked from Halifax for England aboard the Northland on 18 April 1915.

Once in England Edward was posted to the Divisional Cavalry at Shorncliffe for Water Detail in early September and then embarked for France with the No 4 Canadian Field Ambulance later that month to serve with the 2nd Canadian Division. On 11 November 1916 he was awarded a Good Conduct Badge. In January of 1917 Edward was granted a leave on the 12th, returning on the 24th. He then went through a series of promotions: to Lance Corporal in May 1917, to Corporal in July 1917, appointed Acting Sergeant with pay in December 1917, and then to Sergeant on 1 January 1918. He was granted a two week leave that January, returning on the 25th. In February of 1918 Edward attended the Royal Army Medical Corps 1st Army School for about 10 days.

On 8 August 1918, at Amiens, Edward sustained a severe gunshot wound to the hip, fracturing the ilium, sacrum, and coccyx, tearing the lower bowel, and causing injury to the sciatic nerve. First admitted to the 1st South Africa General Hospital on the outskirts of Abbeville on the 18th, dangerously ill he was invalided to the Edmonton Military Hospital in Edmonton, Middlesex, a special surgical hospital for orthopaedic cases. He was to remain there until mid May of 1919 when he was transferred to the No 16 Canadian General Hospital in Orpington on the 12th, on to the No 5 Canadian General Hospital in Liverpool at the end of July, and then back to Orpington in mid August. In the course of his very difficult and painful recovery Edward underwent many surgeries and procedures both in England and once back in Canada.

During the third quarter of 1919, in Liverpool, Edward married Alice Louise Cain. Born on 4 December 1886 in Douglas, Isle of Man, Alice was the daughter of Robert Edward Cain and Anna Scaddon who had married in Liverpool in 1875. Her father also died prematurely and by 1901 Alice was living at the Royal Masonic Institution for Girls in Battersea, London. By the time of the 1911 census she was a nurse at the David Lewis Northern Hospital in Liverpool. In October of 1914, from the David Lewis hospital, Alice became a Nursing Sister with the Queen Alexandra’s Imperial Military Nursing Service. She served aboard the Grantully Castle hospital ship until 1917 when she applied for a position as a ward nurse at the Edmonton Military Hospital. Presumably she was successful in her application and that is where the couple met.

Edward was invalided to Canada in November of 1919, embarking from England aboard the Araguaya on the 11th. Alice had already arrived in Canada aboard the Empress of France on 5 October, on her way to Winnipeg. Upon arrival Edward was admitted to the Manitoba Military Hospital in Winnipeg for further surgeries and treatment. On 7 January 1921, in Winnipeg, Edward was discharged from service as medically unfit and transferred to the Department of Soldiers’ Civil Re-Establishment for further follow-up.

The 1921 census found Edward and Alice living on Warsaw Avenue in Winnipeg, Edward’s occupation given as soldier. In March of 1923 the couple travelled to England for a visit, returning in late November. They had at least one known child, daughter Muriel. The family lived for a while in Kenora, Ontario where Edward was an accountant for Westerio Motors and was a member of the Lake of the Woods Lodge No 445 AF and AM and the Kenora Branch of the Canadian Legion. He was also a past president of the Deer Lodge Manitoba Canadian Legion in Winnipeg.

Retiring in 1952, in 1954 Edward and Alice moved to Vancouver. Edward died on 9 September 1961 in the Shaughnessy Hospital followed by Alice on 28 December 1961 in the St Paul’s Hospital. Disposition was by Vancouver Crematorium. At the time of their deaths Edward and Alice were survived by daughter Muriel, her husband Gordon Brown, and two grandsons. Edward was also survived by three sisters in England.

By Judy Stockham

Photograph of Edward with the 27th Battalion is from the commemorative book of the 27th Battalion, Military District No. 10, 1915
Photographs of Edmonton Military Hospital:
Vancouver obituary courtesy of Mike Melen

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