Edward Wyvern Owen Harris

Edward Wyvern Owen Harris

Male 1897 - 1918  (20 years)

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  • Name Edward Wyvern Owen Harris 
    Born 21 Dec 1897  New Zealand Find all individuals with events at this location  [1
    Gender Male 
    Reference Number WD01.2 
    Buried Aug 1918  Achiet, near Arras, France Find all individuals with events at this location 
    • In Memory of
      Lance Corporal WYVERN EDWARD HARRIS

      45864, "C" Coy. 2nd Bn., Canterbury Regiment, N.Z.E.F.
      who died age 20
      on 24 August 1918
      Son of Mrs. A. M. Moran (formerly Harris), of Cole St., Masterton, New Zealand. Of Belvedere, Carterton.
      Remembered with honour
    Photograph of the Grave
    Photograph of the Grave
    Lance Corporal W..E. Harris 45864 NZ Canterbury regiment. Achiet-Le-Grani Comm.Cem.Ext Plot No.3. Row "J" Grave 27.
    Died 24 Aug 1918  Achiet, near Arras, France Find all individuals with events at this location  [2
    • Wyvern was
      In the preliminary attacks made on August 21st and 22nd, in order to gain the general line of the Arras-Albert railway, from which the big attack was to be launched, the 3rd New Zealand (Rifle) Brigade, which was in the front line, took part. It also took part in the main attack on the 23rd; but the remainder of the Division did not go into action till the morning of the 24th. In the meantime, the 2nd Brigade, which was in reserve to the Division, had moved forward at daybreak on the 21st and bivouacked in the neighbourhood of Sailly-au-Bois. The 1st Canterbury Battalion's bivouacs were in the Chateau de la Haie Switch, near the Chateau itself, and the 2nd Battalion's in a small valley, on the north-western outskirts of Sailly. Here the brigade remained till the 23rd, when it moved forward, and bivouacked for the night just to the south of the village of Bucquoy. Orders for next day's operations were received by the brigadier at midnight.

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      The 1st and 2nd Brigades were ordered to make the attack on the New Zealand Division's frontage on the 24th. The 1st Brigade's task was to advance as far as a line from the southern corner of Loupart Wood to a quarry on the Bapaume-Achiet le Grand railway between Grévillers and Biefvillers; and included the capture of Loupart Wood and the village of Grévillers. On the left of the 1st Brigade, the 37th Division was to capture Biefvillers. The 2nd Brigade was to pass through the 1st Brigade and the 37th Division, and capture Bapaume and the high ground to the east of that town. Tanks were to take part in the attack; and as, owing to the distance of the advance, no creeping barrage could be provided for the 2nd Brigade, the majority of the tanks were allotted to this brigade.

      The 1st Brigade attacked at 4.30 a.m., and by 8 a.m. the 2nd Brigade headquarters received information that Grévillers had been captured. Biefvillers, however, was still in the enemy's hands, and the 2nd Brigade was ordered to capture the village. By 5.30 a.m. the battalions had arrived at their assembly areas, the 1st Canterbury Battalion (on the right) and the 2nd Canterbury Battalion (on the left) astride the Grévillers-Achiet le Petit road, south-east of the Albert-Arras railway, the 2nd Otago Battalion between the railway and Achiet IE Petit, and the 1st Otago Battalion to the north-west of that village. In the 2nd Brigade's attack, the 2nd Otago Battalion replaced the 1st Canterbury Battalion, which remained in its assembly area all day.

      The country which now lay in front of the New Zealand Division was part of the area which lay between the British front line of 1916 and the famous Hindenburg Line, to which the Germans had withdrawn in 1917. There had been no heavy fighting on this ground at any time, and consequently it was very little cut up by shell-fire. Before the German offensive of 1918, this part of the country had been used as a British rest and training area: hutted camps abounded, but the villages had been destroyed by the enemy on his retirement in 1917. For many miles in front of the Division the country was open and gently rolling, with small woods here and there.

      At 8.30 am. the 2nd Otago and 2nd Canterbury Battalions moved forward in lines of sections in file behind a screen of light page 250and heavy tanks. The order of battle of the 2nd Canterbury Battalion, from right to left, was 12th, 13th, and 1st Companies, with the 2nd Company in reserve. The first opposition was encountered on the high ground between Grévillers and Biefvillers, where the enemy put down a very heavy artillery barrage, and the advancing troops came under heavy machine-gun fire from the Bapaume-Albert road, from Avesnes, and from Biefvillers and the high ground east of that village. The 1st Company was not able to enter Biefvillers, and attempted to work round it from the south, but was held up by machine-gun fire from the trenches east of the village. One platoon, however, succeeded in establishing itself in a trench to the north-east of Biefvillers. The 13th Company had worked further forward almost into Avesnes, while the 12th Company was mixed up with the 2nd Otago Battalion, halfway between Avesnes and Grévillers.

      The enemy still held Sapignies (to the north) and the high ground between that village and Biefvillers, and were in the sunken road north-east of the latter village. The 2nd Company was therefore ordered to take up a position north-west of the village, to protect the left flank. By noon this company had driven the enemy from the sunken road and a trench to the north-east of it. The German machine-gunners in Biefvillers were now almost cut off, but succeeded in escaping down the trenches to the north-east of the village.

      At 2.30 p.m. parties of the enemy were seen assembling in the valley between Biefvillers and the Bapaume-Arras road, but their attempt to work forward was stopped by Lewis-gun and rifle fire, and by the help of the artillery. Further enemy concentration at Sapignies was reported by aeroplane at 4.30 p.m., but prompt artillery action prevented a counter-attack being delivered from there. During the afternoon the 13th Company was withdrawn from the posts it had established near Avesnes: this step was taken because the posts formed a dangerous salient in our line, and their garrisons were exposed to deadly enfilade rifle and machine-gun fire from close range. The new line ran east of Grévillers and Biefvillers, with the 12th Company south of the Bapaume-Achiet le Grand railway, the 13th Company between the railway and Biefvillers, and the 1st Company east of that village. The 2nd Company remained in its previous position on the left flank.
    Person ID I1249  Frost Family
    Last Modified 8 Feb 2015 

    Father Edward George Harris,   b. 1 Feb 1867, Upper Hutt, Wellington, New Zealand Find all individuals with events at this location,   d. 13 Aug 1934, Kihikihi, Te Awamutu, Waikato, New Zealand Find all individuals with events at this location  (Age 67 years) 
    Mother Alice May Cotter,   b. 02 Aug 1875, New Zealand Find all individuals with events at this location,   d. 09 May 1963, New Zealand Find all individuals with events at this location  (Age 87 years) 
    Married 20 May 1896  Masterton, Masterton District, Wellington, New Zealand Find all individuals with events at this location  [3
    Divorced Yes, date unknown 
    Electoral Roll 1900  Martinborough, South Wairarapa, Wellington, New Zealand Find all individuals with events at this location 
    Harris, Alice May, married, residential
    Harris, Edward George, coach proprietor, residential
    Wairarapa Roll 1900 and 1905-1906, 
    Family ID F410  Group Sheet  |  Family Chart

  • Event Map
    Link to Google MapsBorn - 21 Dec 1897 - New Zealand Link to Google Earth
    Link to Google MapsBuried - Aug 1918 - Achiet, near Arras, France Link to Google Earth
    Link to Google MapsDied - 24 Aug 1918 - Achiet, near Arras, France Link to Google Earth
     = Link to Google Earth 
    Pin Legend  : Address       : Location       : City/Town       : County/Shire       : State/Province       : Country       : Not Set

  • Photos

  • Sources 
    1. [S293] BDM NZ Historical Records, (http://www.bdmhistoricalrecords.identityservices.govt.nz/home/), 1898/18929 (Reliability: 3), 21 Dec 1897.

    2. [S90] Commonwealth War Graves Commission, (www.cwgc.org).

    3. [S293] BDM NZ Historical Records, (http://www.bdmhistoricalrecords.identityservices.govt.nz/home/), 1896/773 (Reliability: 3), 20 May 1896.
      Alice May Cotter
      Edward George Harris
      Alice's surname shown as Coker Email BDM 31 May 2016.
      BDM - have amended the bride's surname to read COTTER. This was due to handwriting interpretation.