Centenarian Philip attends service to honour sacrifice of uncle who served in the Great War

Bill Harrison with dad Philip, and niece Charlotte Jordan. Picture: CONTRIBUTED

Bill Harrison with dad Philip, and niece Charlotte Jordan. Picture: CONTRIBUTED - Credit: Archant

The 102-year-old nephew of a soldier who died in the First World War was in attendance at a special ceremony held in Hemingford Grey on Remembrance Sunday.

Lieutenant Ronald Harrison died in the third battle of Gaza in 1917 and, almost exactly 100 years after his death, the Royal British Legion (RBL) held a commemorative service in his honour at St James’ Church, as part of its Every Man Remembered initiative.

Attending the service was centenarian Philip Harrison, nephew of Ronald, who served as a lieutenant in the Royal Navy in the Second World War.

Wearing his medals, and the white beret signifying he had served in the Arctic convoys, Mr Harrison was joined by his son Bill, his niece Charlotte Jordan, and his nephew Richard Best with his wife.

The Every Man Remembered commendation and wreath were placed by Mike Robinson of the Royal British Legion, alongside other tributes.

Mike said: “It was such an incredible honour for me, as a representative of St Ives (Hunts) & District RBL, to meet Pip Harrison on Sunday.

“On November 10, 1917, 100 years ago, his uncle Ronald lost his life whilst serving his country. Pip was just a babe in arms at the time. It was truly hard to believe that he was 102 years young, what a great man.”

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As the RBL has marked each fallen soldier right across the country so, in many places, names on war memorials will have become people about whom we now know much more.

The local history society HEMLOCS, has published a book about the Hemingford men who died in the conflict. The names of all the war dead were read in chronological order this year in Hemingford Grey, recalling names, families, houses and bits of village history.

Lt Ronald Harrison is buried in Gaza War Cemetery but his name is also on a memorial to his parents in St Ives cemetery.

His nephew left Hemingford Grey following the service last Sunday to attend the Remembrance Sunday service with his son in Houghton church, as an honoured guest.