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16 October 2010

Private Charles Irvine Harris of Blackwood

Charles Irvine Harris was one of three sons of Charles Hope Harris and Margaret Harris. He was born in Kensington, SA in 1894. His father was a notable surveyor responsible for surveying large areas of northern South Australia, including the towns of Port Pirie, Laura, Curramulka and Ardrossan.

After his schooling, Charles served in the junior and senior cadets and worked as a bank clerk before the war, at which time he was living in Blackwood with his mother. His father died in June 1915.

He enlisted on 30 March 1916 at the age of 20, and joined the 19th reinforcements to the 10th Battalion which shipped out from Adelaide on 12 August 1916 aboard the troopship 'Ballarat'. He joined the 3rd Training Battalion in England in October 1916, and after training, joined the 10th Battalion in France in December 1917. By February 1918 he was a trombonist in the battalion band. Contrary to common belief, after the Battle of Pozieres in 1916, bandsmen were generally not used as stretcher bearers. The band accompanied the battalion in and out of the trenches however, performing a range of miscellaneous duties when not required to perform.

Whilst he was with the battalion, it helped stop the German Spring offensive at Villers-Bretonneux in April 1918, took part in the Battle of Amiens in August 1918, and then helped drive the Germans back to the Hindenburg Line.

His older brother Russell was a Lieutenant in the 27th Battalion, was mentioned in dispatches and survived the war, then emigrated to the United States.

Charles married Muriel Blanche Harris on 18 February 1928 at North Kensington, SA. During the Second World War, Charles served in the 2nd Battalion, Volunteer Defence Corps between April 1942 and July 1944. He and Muriel were living at Prospect at the time. Charles died in 1953.

His name is inscribed on the Blackwood Memorial and the Coromandel Valley Methodist Church Honour Roll at the Blackwood RSL.

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