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fm63 - The Story of Jack Harrison MC VC a Hull and UK hero killed in action in WW1

Posted by... quigs eraofthebiff - on ... Tuesday, May 15, 2012

Dave Beales
NA .. is the club I follow


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Thanks to Dave for sending this information and pics:

Jack Harrison VC MC

Most of us, I'm sure, can recall our special heroes of test match rugby, whether they wore the green and gold or red, white and blue. However, the city of Hull has its own special hero, who although he never graced the international stage, certainly made his mark on and off the field.

Jack Harrison was born in 1890, the son of a boilermaker and plater, he grew up in a tough and austere background and soon learned to look after himself. Unlike his contemporaries, Jack did not leave school at the age of twelve, his parents recognised his talents and made enormous sacrifices to enable him to further his education. Their faith was rewarded in 1910, when he was accepted for teacher training at St John's College, York.

During his training at St John's he first came to the attention of the York Northern Union Club. Already an ever-present in football, cricket, tennis, swimming and athletics, it was his sprinter's speed and strong build that encouraged York to sign him in the 1911/12 season.

Returning to his native city to take up a teaching post in 1912, he signed for the Hull NURFC, stepping out in the famous black & white irregular hoops on 5 September 1912. During that date and 1916, Jack played 116 matches, scoring 106 tries and two goals, playing on the wing outside of the famous centre, Billy Batten. In the 1913/14 Challenge Cup Final, Jack scored one of Hull's two tries in the defeat of Wakefield Trinity and in the following season, he scored 52 tries, a club record that stands to this day.

In 1914, the British Army recognised the need for more officers and offered immediate training to men with 'suitable qualifications'. Jack reported for training in November 1915 and was commissioned as Temporary 2nd Lieutenant in the East Yorkshire Regiment on 5 August 1916, ultimately joining the 11th (Tradesmen's) Battalion.

After the East Yorks entered the front line at Arras, Jack was involved in an attack on February 25th that saw him awarded the Military Cross for conspicuous gallantry.

The German-held area around the village of Oppy was well fortified, with barbed wire, machine guns and trench mortars. The men of the Hull Brigade set out to attack on the night of 2nd of May under a clear sky and a full moon. Two attacks by Jack's Company were repulsed with heavy losses from machine guns. Desperate measures were required and Jack showed no hesitation in taking them.

Telling his men to keep the machine gun under constant fire and armed only with his pistol and a grenade, Jack called upon all of his experience gained on the rugby field. Using his speed and side-step, he weaved through no-mans-land until he reached his objective. Silhouetted by flares, Jack's men saw him fall forward as he threw his grenade. The machine gun was silenced. 2nd Lt Jack Harrison was never seen again.

This act of bravery earned him the Victoria Cross; which was presented to his widow, Lillian, by King George V on 2nd March 1918.

But Jack's story is far from over. In 2002, a number of Hull FC fans, began discussing the possibility of a lasting, public tribute to Jack Harrison. The Jack Harrison Memorial Trust was set up to raise the funds necessary to provide a lasting tribute to a man of honour and bravery.

The Jack Harrison Memorial at Hull's Ground

Collections, donations and fund-raising events have ensured the first part of the project, the memorial, was ready to be unveiled prior to today's game. The memorial is situated adjacent to the main entrance to the Kingston Communications stadium. If you have not already done so, please take the time to view the memorial at the end of the game.

The second part of the project is a Trust that will encourage children of lesser ability to use The Greatest Game in overcoming adversity. This, it is hoped, will be Jack's legacy to Rugby League. A Jack Harrison Memorial Medal will be struck and awarded to all who participate, as a reward for their courage.

The Committee would like to thank all who have contributed; with special thanks to Jenny Oliver (the sculptress), Sweetmore Engineering of Newcastle-under-Lyme and Campbell Laser Products of Hull for donating the bronze casting and plinth, free of charge. But most of all, we thank you, The Great Family of Rugby League for your support in this project.

Donations are still required to ensure the success of the Trust and can be made to the Hull FC club or electronically through the official website; www.jackharrison.org.uk.

Jack Harrison VC MC: Husband, Father, Citizen Soldier, Sportsman, Hero.

Lest We Forget


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