Lieutenant Commander Thomas Edmund Harrison

Thank you to Lenka Cathersides for the following research.

Thomas Edmund Harrison Birth Index
© Ancestry.co.uk

Thomas Edmund Harrison was born on 16th April 1879 at Sheppey in Kent.

His parents were Royal Navy Commander Matthew James and Lucy Caroline Harrison (nee Wedgwood).

Thomas had four siblings. Geoffrey Richard who was born on 15th February 1876 at Ipswich in Suffolk, who died aged 7 on 7th December 1882 in Kent. Geoffrey is buried at Leith Hill. Annie Dorothea was born in the 3rd quarter of 1877 in Lewisham and died after an operation on 2nd September 1950 in British Columbia. She was the widow of Major John Gooch R. A. George Basil Harrison was born on 26th October 1882 at Sheppey and Lucy Ursula, who was born in the 3rd quarter of 1884 at Horsham in Sussex.

Thomas Harrison 1881 Census
© findmypast.co.uk

At the time of the 1881 Census, Matthew was a Lieutenant of the Royal Navy and Inspecting Officer of the Coastguard. He and his wife Lucy and their children Geoffrey, Annie and Thomas were living at Cheyney Rock Road, Minster in Sheppey. The family employed a footman, a cook, a nurse and a housemaid.

Thomas Harrison 1891 Census
© findmypast.co.uk

At the time of the 1891 Census, Matthew, who was now retired from the Royal Navy, his wife Lucy and their children Annie, Thomas, George and Lucy lived at Shiprods, Toat Hill, Itchingfield, Horsham. The family employed a butler, a cook, a housemaid, a childrens maid and a kitchen maid.

Thomas enrolled into the Royal Navy on 15th July 1892.

In the 2nd quarter of 1907 Thomas married Maud Winifred Godman at Horsham. Maud was born in the 1st quarter of 1882 in Horsham and was baptised on 8th January 1882 in Itchingfield. Her parents were Percy Sanden Godman a magistrate in Sussex (born about 1837 at Hascombe, Surrey) and Isabel Frederica Godman (born about 1843 at Dorset, Weymouth).

Thomas and Maud had three children. Geoffrey Wedgwood Harrison, who was born on 18th July 1908, Isabel Mary, born on 20th April 1911, both in Portsmouth. Sophie Maud, born on 1st July 1914 at Catherington, West Hampshire.

Thomas Harrison 1911 Census
© Ancestry.co.uk

At the time of the 1911 Census, while Thomas was serving in the Navy, Maud was living with her son Geoffrey and a housemaid and a cook at Red Lodge, Craneswater Park, Southsea, Hants. She was living on a private means and the house had 12 rooms. Thomas was listed on HMS Irresistible as a Lieutenant executive.

Thomas, now Lieutenant Commander of the Royal Navy, spent the second month of WW1 on HMS Aboukir. On 22nd September 1914, armoured cruisers Aboukir, Hogue and Cressy were on patrol roughly 40 miles west of Den Helder in the North Sea, providing a shield for the transport of men and material to the British Expeditionary Force on the fledgling Western Front. In addition to being old and slow all three ships were heavily crewed by reservists and trainees. They were nicknamed accordingly ‘the live bait squadron’.

HMS Aboukir
Image © Michael W. Pocock, Maritime Quest

At about 6.25am, H.M.S. Aboukir was torpedoed by Otto Weddigen in the German submarine U9. Hogue and Cressy moved in to pick up survivors, convinced the Aboukir had struck a mine. Instead, the German U-boat torpedoed the remaining cruisers as well. The ships were easy targets as they were not able to maintain 12-13 knots and zigzag for their protection. The whole action lasted only 90 minutes, but cost the lives of 62 officers and 1,397 men. Only 837 sailors were rescued. This event was the first major naval tragedy of the Great War.

Thomas Harrison – Chatham Memorial Roll of Honour
© CWGC

Thomas Edmund Harrison is commemorated on the Chatham Naval Memorial in Kent on the panel 1. The memorial commemorates those members of the Royal Navy who had no known grave, the majority of deaths having occurred at sea where no permanent memorial could be provided.

Thomas Harrison Royal Navy Medal Roll
© findmypast.co.uk
Thomas Harrison Deaths at Sea
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Lieutenant Commander Thomas Edmund Harrison received the British and Victory medals and the 1914 Star. The medals were issued to his widow Maud Winifred Harrison of Wey Lodge Liphook Hants.

Thomas Harrison Probate Calendar
© Ancestry.co.uk

Thomas also left his wife Maud £7583, 15s and 1d. At the time of his death Thomas lived at Hampsteel Cowfold, Horsham.

Thomas Harrison Monumental Inscription Detail
© Ancestry.co.uk
Thomas Harrison Monument Inscription
© ancestry.co.uk

Maud died on 25th April 1962 in Sussex. At the time she lived at Timbers Plummers Plain, in Horsham and left her daughters £ 31,532, 15s and 9d.

Lived Leith Hill, Dorking
Son of Commander Matthew and Lucy (nee Wedgwood) Harrison of Leith Hill Place, Dorking
Husband of Maud Winnifred Harrison of Wey Lodge, Liphook, Hants
Brother of Lieutenant Commander George Basil Harrison
Cousin of Ralph Vaughan Williams
Regiment H.M.S Aboukir, Royal Navy
Date of Death 22nd September 1914
Place of Death North Sea
Cause of Death Killed when HMS Aboukir torpedoed off the Dutch coast
Age 34
Memorial Chatham Naval Memorial
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