Francis George Harris, formerly a Gunner with the Royal Garrison Artillery, died at Birmingham General Hospital on 29th December 1919. He had been discharged from the Army in March 1919 so does not appear as a war casualty on official records, although he is commemorated locally in the Soldiers’ Chapel, Knowle. He is also listed on the Roll of Honour for Packwood amongst those who served.
Born in Olton in 1883, Francis was the youngest of the three sons of parents, Alfred (a farmer) and Annie (née Elswood) who had married in Symondsbury, Dorset in 1875. The family moved to Lapworth, Warwickshire sometime between 1875-1881.
Francis’ mother, Annie, died in Lapworth in 1884, aged 34, when Francis was less than a year old. In 1888, his father, Alfred, married Sarah Ellen (“Nellie”) Squire and went on to have four children with her – William Greening (1889-1971), John Bertram (1893-1918), Edgar Squire (1896-1970) and Agnes Muriel Mary (1904-1986).
Francis became a commercial traveller and was living with his father and stepmother at “Rosslyn”, Dorridge at the time of the 1911 census. He volunteered for the Army on the outbreak of the First World War, serving with the Royal Warwickshire Regiment from September 1914 until May 1916 and seeing active service in France March 1915-May 1916.
He transferred to the Royal Garrison Artillery in 1916 and was posted to Salonika in November 1916. He was hospitalised with malaria in October 1918 and invalided back to England in February 1919. He was discharged from the Army on 18th March 1919.
His eldest brother, Robert Cyril (born 1879) is known to have served in the Boer War. His three half-brothers all served in the First World War, with one of them – John Bertram – dying of pneumonia in 1918.
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