Oliver James HARMON

Oliver James HARMON

Private O. J. Harmon, ca. 1916 (Photograph: Australian War Memorial)

Private O. J. Harmon, ca. 1916 (Photograph: Australian War Memorial)

Per his military service record (regimental no. 4791), Oliver James Harmon was born at Redfern, N.S.W. He gave his age as 31 years and 11 months, his marital status as single, and his occupation as boiler makers’ assistant. His description on his medical was height 5 feet 10 ½ inches tall, weight 160 lbs., with blue eyes, and dark hair. His religious denomination was Church of England. He claimed that he had no previous military service. He completed his medical on the 10th November 1915 at Parramatta, and was attested at Ashfield on the 11th November 1915.

According to The Cumberland Argus and Fruitgrowers Advocate, he ‘had done a good deal of shearing in the West, and was personally known to many of the Gilgandra Coo-ees, whom he had joined when they passed through Parramatta’.[1]

After completing the Coo-ee March he went to Liverpool Camp as reinforcement for the 13th Battalion.

On his embarkation roll his address at time of enrolment was Alfred Street, Granville, N.S.W., and his next of kin is listed as his father, W. H. Harmon, Alfred Street, Granville, N.S.W.

On 8th March 1916 Private Harmon departed Sydney on the HMAT A15 Star of England along with many of the other Coo-ees, arriving in Egypt on the 11th April 1916.

On 16th April 1916 Private Harmon was transferred to the 4th Pioneer Battalion at Tel-El-Kebir, Egypt.

On 4th June 1916 Private Harmon left Alexandria aboard the Transport Scotian bound for France, arriving at Marseilles on 11th June 1916.

On 25th June 1916 the 4th Pioneer Battalion was at Armentieres, France, constructing defensive works. On this day Private Harmon was placed under arrest for Disobeying a Lawful Command Given By a Superior Officer (he did not accompany a Corporal to draw stores when ordered to do so) and Using Insubordinate Language To a Superior Officer (to the same Corporal). He was held in custody until a Field General Court Martial was held on the 8th of July 1916 at Fleurbaix, France. He was sentenced to 14 days Field Punishment Number 2.

On 6th August 1916 the 4th Pioneer Battalion was maintaining Tramway Trench in the ruins of the village of Pozieres which was under heavy German artillery fire during the Battle of Pozieres when Private Harmon was killed in action. Also killed with him in the 4th Pioneer Battalion on the same day were fellow Coo-ees John Tarlington (who joined the Coo-ees at Blayney), and Karl Alex Frederick Neilson (who joined the Coo-ees at Springwood).

Private Harmon has no known grave, and is remembered on the Villers-Bretonneux Memorial in France.

Private Harmon's name on the Villers-Bretonneux Memorial, France (Photograph: S. & H. Thompson 7/9/2014)

Private Harmon’s name on the Villers-Bretonneux Memorial, France (Photograph: S. & H. Thompson 7/9/2014)

Private Harmon’s name is commemorated on panel 174 on the Australian War Memorial First World War Roll of Honour.

Private Harmon’s name is also remembered on the Granville War Memorial.

[1] ‘Killed in action’, The Cumberland Argus and Fruitgrowers Advocate, 9 September 1916, p. 10, http://nla.gov.au/nla.news-article86076476

 

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