No.2999 – Trooper Alfred Ernest Harrison – 10th Light Horse Regiment
Alfred was born in Sandhurst Bendigo Victoria in 1880. He was also educated in Bendigo and after leaving school he took up employment in the mining industry.
The Harrison siblings later moved to Western Australia and took up residence in Douglas Street and later Mandurah Rd South Fremantle. Alfred used this as his base when he went off to prospect in the goldfields.
Robert Harrison was the first of the brothers to enlist but unfortunately he died of wounds received in the Gallipoli campaign; while John Harrison enlisted in June 1915. Alfred enlisted a few months later on 3 March 1916.
Alfred enlisted in Kalgoorlie and used his sister Alice as his next of kin. The medical officer found him to be fit for service, recording his details as: height of below 5 feet 9 inches; weight of 145lbs; chest measurement of 34-37 inches; ruddy complexion; blue eyes and brownish grey hair.
Alfred was sent to Blackboy Hill Camp where he was assigned to the 54th Training Depot and was taken through the basics of infantry work.
On 17 April he was transferred into the 20th Reinforcements to the 11th Battalion and he trained with this group for the next several weeks. However Alfred requested to join the Light Horse so on the 8th June he was sent to the Light Horse Depot where he had to prove his horsemanship skills.
On 15 August 1916 Alfred was assigned to the 22nd Reinforcements of the 10th Light Horse Regiment. Strangely this was the same day that his brother John died in Egypt.
Below is an image of 10th Australian Light Horse Regiment while in Claremont in August 1916.
After training in WA it appears that this reinforcement group was sent to South Australia as they embarked at Port Adelaide on 4 November 1916 aboard the transport ship Bakara.
The journey to Egypt took a month and the men disembarked in Suez on 4 December 1916. After ten days in the isolation camp, Alfred was transferred to the 3rd Light Horse Training Regiment at Moascar. He remained there for the next two months and on 17 February 1917 was officially taken on strength of the 10th Light Horse Regiment.
Alfred would serve with the 10th for the next few months including in the first assault on Gaza. On 6 June 1917 he was sent to the 3rd Light Horse Field Ambulance suffering from septic sores; fortunately after a week’s rest he returned to the 10th Light Horse.
Alfred saw action during the Beersheba operations in October and was with the 10th when they helped capture Jerusalem. Alfred remained with the 10th into 1918 as the advance continued into the Jordan Valley and the Es Salt operations. Many Light horsemen had their health affected serving in this theatre of war and Alfred was among them. On 8 June 1918 Alfred was evacuated to hospital, suffering severely from a malarial attack. He spent nearly seven weeks in hospital and later in a convalescent camp, eventually returning to the 10th Light Horse on 3 August 1918.
Alfred saw out the remainder of the war with the 10th including the successful Damascus operation. On 8 February 1919 he was sent ill to hospital once again though he soon improved and on 23 March 1919 he formed part of ‘Olden’s Force’, which was a unit raised in response to the Egyptian revolt.
On 10 April 1919 Alfred had a recurrence of the malarial attack and he was sent ill to the 14th Australian General Hospital. He was only here for a short time and was then transferred to a rest camp in Port Said where it was possible he was able to visit his brother’s grave in the local cemetery.
Alfred’s malarial attack was severe enough for him to be invalided home, and on 29 April 1919 he boarded the HT Dorset which sailed for Australia, disembarking in Fremantle on 29 May 1919.
After being disembarked Alfred was sent to the No.26 Australian Auxiliary Hospital at the Royal Australian Garrison Artillery Barracks in Fremantle which was specialising in malaria and other diseases contracted by the Light Horsemen in the Middle East. He was given a very thorough medical examination before he was discharged from the AIF.
Alfred then took up residence for a time with his sister Alice, now living in Douglas Street Fremantle. No doubt she was very glad to see Alfred home as she had lost her other two brothers in the war.
Many thanks to Andrew Pittaway for writing and sharing this story and to Lois Wylie for these images.