Menu ☰
Liverpool Pals header
Search Pals

Capt Arthur de Bells Adam (MC)
1885 - 1916

CPL David Wallace Crawford
1887 - 1916

Lce-Corpl John Joseph Nickle
1894 - 1916

Pte 17911 Morton Neill
1897 - 1916

Lieut Edward Stanley Ashcroft
1883 - 1918
Lieut Edward Stanley Ashcroft

Pte 23027 John Pearson Harrison

  • Age: 28
  • From: Liverpool
  • Regiment: The King's (Liverpool Regiment) 20th Btn
  • K.I.A Tuesday 11th July 1916
  • Commemorated at: Flatiron Copse Cem Marnetz
    Panel Ref: III.F.13
Pte 23027 John Pearson HARRISON, 20th Battalion KLR.

John Pearson Harrison was born in 1888, the second of four children born to John Harrison and his wife Leonora (nee Pearson) and their elder son.

In 1891, the family lived at 26 Arundel Street, Walton and consisted of John, 40 years, a freight clerk born in Cumberland; his wife, Leonora, 36, also born Cumberland; their daughter, Leslie Annie; and their two young sons, John Pearson, 2 years, and William Fletcher Harrison aged 7 months.

In 1901 the family live at 1 Alt Street, Toxteth. His father John (senior) is a 54 year old wine and spirit merchant, and his mother is 49 years of age. John P. is 12 years old and has three siblings; Leslie A. M. is 16, William F. is 10, and Sara L. is 5. Also present in the household is Sara Pearson (the childrens grandmother) aged 69.

In 1911, they live at 35 Beaumont Street, Toxteth, but Leonora is by now a 59 year old widow. Leslie Annie Mary is shown as an artist (painter) while John Pearson and William Fletcher are shown as unemployed solicitor’s clerks. Sara Leonora is 15 and at school.

On 06th November 1914 at Liverpool, John Harrison enlisted in the 20th Battalion of The King's Liverpool Regiment as Private 23027. He gave his age as 26 years 124 days and his occupation as clerk. He is described as being 5’6” tall and weighing only 112 lbs (8 stone).

Formed in November 1914 the 20th Battalion were originally billeted at Tournament Hall, Knotty Ash before on 29th January 1915 they moved to the hutted accommodation purposely built at Lord Derby’s estate at Knowsley Hall. On 30th April 1915 the 20th Battalion alongside the other three Pals battalions left Liverpool via Prescot Station for further training at Belton Park, Grantham. They remained here until September 1915 when they reached Larkhill Camp on Salisbury Plain. He arrived in France on 07th November 1915.

In February 1916 he was hospitalised suffering from impetigo, returning to his unit on 6th March; on 31st of that month he was admitted to 55 Field Ambulance with a septic toe (possibly Trench Foot) and on 14th April to 22 Field Ambulance suffering from myalgia (severe muscle pain) On 27th April he returned to 20th Battalion and was killed in action ten weeks later on 11th July 1916 near Trones Wood. 

The murderous fighting that went on inside Trones Wood rendered it impossible to put specific dates on some of the casualties which is why many of the 17th Battalion losses have been bracketed as killed in action between 10th – 12th July 1916. The conditions are best described in the following passage from Everard Wyrall’s book The History of The King’s Regiment (Liverpool) Volume II. 

The remembrance of Trones Wood in July 1916 to those who passed through it is of a noisome, horrible place, of a tangled mass of trees and undergrowth which had been tossed and flung about in frightful confusion by the shells of both sides. Of the ghastly dead which lay about in all directions, and of DEATH, lurking in every hole and corner with greedy hands ready to snatch the lives of the unwary. The place was Death trap, and although the attacks were made with great determination,   the presence of snipers who could not be detected and often fired into the backs of our men made the clearing of the wood impossible.

His death was reported in the Liverpool Echo on 26th July 1916:


"Mrs Harrison of 127 Salisbury Road, Wavertree, has received news of the death of her son Private John Pearson Harrison of the Pals, who was killed by a sniper when carrying rations to his comrades. He was educated at St. Margaret's School, Princes Road, and was employed by a Amour and Co. Ltd, Victoria Street. A non-commissioned officer of his platoon, in a letter to his mother wrote: "His loss to us is great indeed, for he always had a good heart and was cheery under the most trying conditions".

John was buried in Flat Iron Copse Cemetery near Mametz Wood. This area was taken by the Allies on 14th July 1916 and a casualty clearing station and cemetery was established there later that month. It is likely that John Harrison was brought into the cemetery following the Armistice, He rests in Grave III F 13.

Flatiron Copse was the name given by the army to a small plantation a little to the east of Mametz Wood. The ground was taken by the 3rd and 7th Divisions on 14 July 1916 and an advanced dressing station was established at the copse. The cemetery was begun later that month and it remained in use until April 1917. Two further burials were made in August 1918 and after the Armistice, more than 1,100 graves were brought in from the neighbouring battlefields and from smaller cemeteries. Almost all the concentrated graves are those of men who died in the summer and autumn of 1916. There are now 1,572 Commonwealth servicemen of the First World War buried or commemorated in this cemetery. 420 of the burials are unidentified but there are special memorials to 36 casualties known or believed to be buried among them, and nine buried in Mametz Wood Cemetery whose graves were destroyed by shell fire. The cemetery was designed by Sir Herbert Baker.

He earned all three medals.
His Service Record shows that his effects were to be sent to Mrs L. Harrison, 127 Salisbury Road, Wavertree, Liverpool but she died on 21st January 1917 of acute jaundice and pneumonia and his medals were sent to Leslie A. M. Harrison, his sister.

On the first anniversary of his death his sisters and brother paid tribute to John in the Liverpool Echo on 13th July 1917
HARRISON - To the dear memory of John Pearson Harrison, 20th K.L.R. (Pals), who was killed in action near Thones Wood (battle of the Somme), July 12, 1916, beloved eldest son of the late John Harrison and Leonora Harrison, who died January 21, 1917. - Deeply mourned by his Sisters and Brother (in France.)

In late 1919, the family’s declaration form re next of kin shows his parents as deceased and his three surviving siblings - Leslie Ann, William Fletcher and Sarah Leonora aged 24 years - live at 2 Keswick Road, Wallasey.

In May 1920, the family returned to the War Office John’s scroll - asking that it be amended as it showed his name as Joseph not John. 

John is commemorated in the Hall of Remembrance, Liverpool Town Hall, Panel 55 Right. 

His brother, William Fletcher Harrison, served with the Liverpool Scottish as Private 356974, first enlisting as a member of the Territorial Force on 21st November 1915. He was demobilised on 19th April 1919 and on 30th October 1919 was awarded a disability pension after being diagnosed with pulmonary tuberculosis attributable to his military service. He received the BWM and VM and was to live until 1960.


Killed On This Day.

(108 Years this day)
Tuesday 18th July 1916.
Pte 27346 John Mawdsley
34 years old

(106 Years this day)
Thursday 18th July 1918.
Cpl 106108 William Alexander Unsworth
38 years old