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Henry Harrison headstone

New evidence leads to undiscovered Beatles link on eve of Battle of Loos centenary

17 September 2015

Among nearly 2,000 burials at the CWGC's St Marys ADS Cemetery in France is the grave of Private Henry Harrison - who is believed to be the grandfather of Beatles legend George Harrison.

Henry Harrison enlisted into the 1st Battalion of The Loyal North Lancashire Regiment in November 1914. He was married to Jane - with whom he had seven children. The family lived in Wavertree - an area of Liverpool, in Merseyside.

Henry was killed, along with almost 8,500 of his comrades, on the first day of the Battle of Loos on 25 September 1915. He is buried in in Plot 5, Row F, Grave 10 of the cemetery. It was not until November of that year that Jane received a telegram informing her of her husband's death.

Jane was left heartbroken and their seven children fatherless. The Wavertree times records…
 
"Official notification has been received by his wife at 24 Abyssinia Street, Wavertree, Liverpool of the death of Private Harry Harrison, 1st Batt. Loyal North Lancashire Regiment who was killed in action in France on September 25. Before joining the army he was in the employ of a Liverpool firm of builders. He joined the service in November last and was drafted to the front in the spring. He leaves a widow and seven children".

After the war, Jane chose the words "A Faithful Heart At Rest" as an inscription for his headstone.

 

Henry Harrison Documents

  
Obituary notice and medal card of Private Henry Harrison CWGC's WEA office in Beaurains recently received a visit from a Mr Hocquet - who brought with him a number of scanned documents which suggested the link between George and Henry Harrison. After looking at the documents and other records available online, the Commission concluded that there was clear and compelling evidence that Henry was George's grandfather.

This is not the only link our cemeteries have with the 'Fab Four' - there is also a famous photograph taken of the group at Arnhem Oostberbeek War Cemetery in August 1960 as the Beatles journeyed from Liverpool to Hamburg.

Beatles Image

Paul, George and others at the Stone of Remembrance, Arnhem Oostberbeek War Cemetery.

Pete Best, a member of the band at the time, recalled: At Arnhem there was time to get out and walk around and stretch our legs. We also went to see the Arnhem war memorial. There are photographs of us sitting in front of it. Seeing the war graves and all the rest of it was quite moving, to me anyway.It quietened us down a bit. I think it was the aura of the place, the peace and tranquility that came through to us.

We didn't stay together as a party so while Allan (Allan Williams, the band manager) went off to do what he wanted to do, we broke up and did our own thing and had a walkabout.
It will be noticed that John Lennon is not in the above image, and it is recorded that he was sickened by seeing row after row of gravestones and couldn't face being in the photo.

The Battle of Loos (September - October 1915) was the British Army's largest effort of the war up to that point, with 75,000 men involved on the first day alone.  It saw the first British use of poison gas and also the first deployment of battalions formed of inexperienced wartime volunteers. It became known at the time as 'the Big Push.'

To commemorate the centenary, the Commonwealth War Graves Commission has launched a remembrance trail, that has been specially designed to encourage more people to visit this often overlooked battlefield.

The CWGC Loos Remembrance Trail takes the visitor on a journey of discovery across the battlefields of Loos, visiting some of the Commonwealth War Graves Commission (CWGC) cemeteries where many of those killed in the battle lie buried and discovering more about the battle and the experiences of those who fought it.