Jack Harrison Documentary Assignment- Article

The name of John ‘Jack’ Harrison is synonimous with the history of Hull as a hero in two very different elements which still resonate today with the people of Hull and beyond.

Jack was born on 12 November 1890, he was the fourth of seven born to John and Charlotte Harrison and lived his early life in Williamson Street and Newbridge Road, close to Hull KR’s home ground on Craven Street.

His father was a plater and boilermaker at Earle’s Shipyard so Jack came from a very humble background, but his parents worked very hard to give him the best start in life they could, at the time when university places were the almost exclusive right of the wealthy they worked hard enough to get him a place at what is now York St. John University.

Whilst he was in York Jack trained to be a teacher and also represented his college at Swimming, Cricket and also in Rugby League for which he had exceptional talent.

Jack signed amateur forms to play for York Rugby League club and he appeared in five games for them and scored three tries in the process.

Jack qualified as a teacher in 1912 and returned to his hometown when he gained a post as a teacher at Lime Street School, when he returned everyone expected him to sign for Hull KR because of his East Hull roots and the fact that his father had supported them and indeed York had occasion to believe that Rovers had made a dodgy approach to sign him while he was playing for them but Jack said they had approached him before he ever turned out for York.

In a surprising move Jack opted to sign for the black and white side of Hull and made his debut for Hull FC in September 1912, he went on to score 17 tries in 29 games in his first season at The Boulevard.

The 1913-14 season was a triumphant one for Jack and the team as they achieved what the team had been built for and won the most famous competition in World Rugby League the Challenge Cup. Hull, who had a few years before become the first team ever to lose three consecutive Challenge Cup Finals, beat Wakefield Trinity 6-0 in the final at Thrum Hall, Halifax, and it was Jack who scored the decisive second try to wrap up the victory.

On 1 September 1914 Jack married his sweetheart Lillian Ellis and they set up home in Wharncliffe Street, Chanterlands Avenue, married life obviously suited him as he then went on to score the club record of 52 tries in the 1914-15 season, a record which still stands to this day.

Of course by the end of that season World War 1 was raging all over Europe and on 4th November 1915 Jack signed up for the East Yorkshire regiment and was sent for officer training at Inns of Court Officer Training Corps and was subsequently commissioned as a temporary 2nd Lieutenant.

On 25th March 1917 Jack became a war hero by leading a patrol in No Man’s Land and capturing a prisoner and, for setting an outstanding example, he was awarded the Military Cross, the citation for it reads: For conspicuous gallantry and devotion to duty. He handled his platoon with great courage and skill, reached his objective under the most trying conditions and captured a prisoner. He set a splendid example throughout.

Jack was tragically killed at Oppy Wood in northern France on 3 May 1917 ina show of extreme bravery to try and save the lives of the men of his platoon as they were held down by heavy machine-gun fire, for his bravery and self-sacrifice he was posthumously awarded the Victoria Cross, the citation for this award says:

For the most conspicuous bravery and self-sacrifice in an attack. Owing to darkness and to smoke from the enemy barrage and from our own, and to the fact that our objective was in a dark wood, it was impossible to see when our barrage had lifted off the enemy front line. Nevertheless 2nd lieutenant John Harrison led his company against the enemy trench and under heavy rifle and machine-gun fire, but was repulsed. Re-organising his command as best he could in No Man’s Land, he again attacked in darkness, under heavy fire, but with no success. Then turning round, this gallant officer single-handed made a dash at the machine-gun hoping to knock-out the gun and so save the lives of many of his company. His self-sacrifice and absolute disregard of danger was an inspiring example to all. He is reported missing; presumed dead.

There is a memorial to him outside the KC Stadium but some people are now calling for his memory to be honoured in the form of a statue at the Cenotaph in Hull City Centre

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Hull FC Voices Remembrance Service

FC Voices had their Remembrance Service in memory of all Hull FC players, Supporters and other club representatives who have made the ultimate sacrifice over the years fighting for their country at the Jack Harrison Memorial outside the KC Stadium on Saturday morning.

The respectful and deeply dignified ceremony was attended by supporters and representatives of the club including Hull FC Head of Media James Clark.

A band, formed by supporters, played relevant music including Abide With Me and Old Faithful as well as the traditional Last Post and Reveille to start and end a minutes silence which was impeccably observed by all who were present, much unlike the minutes silence which was disgustingly broken by ‘fans’ at the stadium that afternoon when football teams Hull City and Middlesborough played each other.

FC Voices were represented by Lisa Jewitt and Jed Rust among others and Up The Cream editor Dan Tomlinson was also present to see a wreath of poppies laid in front of the memorial dedicated to club legend Jack Harrison who won the Military Cross and, posthumously, the Victoria Cross when laying down his life in Northern France in 1917.

There was a reading of a wartime poem and a dedication from the club chaplain and the whole ceremony was bound up with a very respectful and enjoyable feeling and atmosphere and was obviously extremely well organised by FC Voices who deserve enormous credit for the many things they do on behalf of both club and supporters.

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More Research Evidence For Documentary Assignment

I have looked at plenty of material online and consulted with Hull FC club historian Bill Dalton during my research, here is some of the stuff I’ve researched:

VC Citation

Jack Harrison, Hull History

HDM Story

I have also got myself a readers ticket for Hull History Centre which enables me to read anything in there so I have read many biographical articles about him, including a book of reports about the seasons he played for Hull FC which is why I now know for certain that he set his club try scoring record in 1914-15 as opposed to 1913-14 season which is a common mistake in many publications.

Jack Harrison- Winger, Officer and Hero

Hull FC have been in existence for 150 years and one of their club records has stood for 100 of those years.

Jack Harrison was born on 12 November 1890, he was the fourth out of what eventually became seven children to John and Charlotte Harrison. The family lived in Williamson Street and Newbridge Road in East Hull, near to Hull KR’s home ground on Craven Street, Jack even attended Craven Street School.

John (born in 1861) was a plater and boiler maker at Earle’s Shipyard so Jack came from a very humble, but well-to-do, background and his parents were determined to give him the best possible start they could in life so worked tirelessly enabling Jack to gain a place at York St. John’s University at a time when university places were the exclusive right of the wealthy.

While studying there Jack represented the college at swimming, cricket and rugby league, it was this that attracted the attention of York rugby league club and persuaded them to sign him as an amateur. Jack played 5 times for York and scored 3 tries for them.

In 1912 Jack qualified as a teacher and returned to his hometown where he would teach at Lime Street School, everyone expected he would sign for Hull KR because of his East Hull roots and the fact that his father supported them, indeed York had grounds for suspicion that Rovers had made an illegal approach to try and sign him while he was playing for them, but Jack scotched the rumour saying they had approached him before he turned out for York, so it was a big surprise to everyone when he signed professional terms with Rovers hated cross-city rivals Hull FC.

He made his debut for the black and white’s in September 1912 and went on to score 17 tries in his first season for the Airlie Birds. At the time that Jack signed Hull were in the process of putting together a team with the express purpose of winning the Challenge Cup having suffered the fate of being the first team ever to lose 3 consecutive finals in the most famous rugby league competition in the world.

In the 1913-14 season that aim was achieved as Jack scored the second, and decisive, try in the final played at Thrum Hall in Halifax against Wakefield Trinity which Hull won 6-0.

On 1 September 1914 Jack married his sweetheart Lilian Ellis and they set up home in Wharncliffe Street and then Chanterlands Avenue in West Hull. Married life obviously suited him as he then embarked on his record breaking season for the side from The Boulevard scoring 52 tries in the 1914-15 season (not 1913-14 as some publications would have you believe.)

Jack never played rugby league again after that season feeling his place was in the classroom and with Lilian and their new son Jackie before he enlisted for the East Yorkshire Regiment on 4th November 1915 and he was selected for officer training at the Inns of Court Officer Training Corps and was subsequently commissioned as a probationary 2nd Lieutenant.

On 25th March 1917 he won the Military Cross, the citation for this award reads as follows: For conspicuous gallantry and devotion to duty. He handled his platoon with great courage and skill, reached his objective under the most trying conditions and captured a prisoner. He set a splendid example throughout.

Jack’s battalion of the Hull Pals were then sent to the fight at Oppy Wood in northern France and it was here, on 3 May 1917, that Jack was killed in action. Seeing his men being pinned down and systematically slaughtered in No Man’s Land by fierce German machine gun fire Jack, showing total disregard for his own safety and armed only with a pistol and a mills grenade, dashed single-handed towards the machine gun nest, tragically he was shot dead but only at the time when he threw the grenade at the machine gun which subsequently fell silent and never fired again.

As a result of this outstanding piece of bravery Jack Harrison’s number 6 platoon were able to get to safety and regroup. Unfortunately his body was never found having either sunk into the quagmire of mud that was the battlefield or been blown apart by the heavy artillery shells that hit the battlefield constantly.

His wife was presented with his Victoria Cross by King George 5th in March 1918, the citation for the award which appeared in the London Gazette on 14th June 1917 reads: For the most conspicuous bravery and self-sacrifice in an attack. Owing to darkness and to smoke from the enemy barrage and from our own, and to the fact that our objective was in a dark wood, it was impossible to see when our barrage had lifted off the enemy front line. Nevertheless 2nd Lieutenant John Harrison led his company against the enemy trench and under heavy rifle and machine gun fire, but was repulsed. Re-organising his command as best he could in No Man’s Land he again attacked in darkness, under terrific fire, but with no success. Then turning round, this gallant officer single-handed made a dash at the machine gun, hoping to knock-out the gun and so save the lives of many of his company. His self-sacrifice and absolute disregard of danger was an inspiring example to all. He is reported missing; presumed dead.

He is the only professional rugby league player to have won the Victoria Cross and it seems highly unlikely that his record of 52 tries in a season for Hull FC will ever be beaten so his name truly belongs in rugby league folklore but not just for his record-breaking try scoring exploits, hero is a word used far too often and easily these days but, in my humble opinion, Jack Harrison defines the word hero.

Jack Harrison 1 Jack Harrison 2

Documentary Idea- Jack Harrison VC

John ‘Jack’ Harrison would be my choice of subject for a documentary about a famous person from Hull.

Jack Harrison was born in Hull on 12 November 1890 his father was a plaiter and boilermaker in Earles Shipyard. he studied at St. John’s College, York (now York St. John University) where he was captain of the Rugby club and also represented them at Cricket and Swimming.

In 1911-1912 he played 5 games for York Rugby League club scoring 3 tries but then he returned to his hometown in September 1912. Back in Hull he was invited to join Billy Batten playing at Hull FC who were in the process of putting together a team with the express purpose of winning the Challenge Cup after they became the first team to earn the dubious distinction of losing three finals on the trot.

He set the Hull FC club record of 52 tries in a season in the 1913-1914 season, a record which he still holds to this day and was one of two try scorers for Hull as they beat Wakefield Trinity to win the 1914 Challenge Cup Final.

In 1915 he joined the East Yorkshire Regiment and was trained as a temporary 2nd lieutenant receiving his commission on 5 August 1916 and was posted to 6 Platoon, 11th Batalion.

On 25th March 1917 he lead a patrol into No Man’s Land and was awarded the Military Cross for ‘Conspicuous Gallantry and Devotion to Duty’ while handling his platoon with great skill and achieving their objective under the most trying conditions and capturing a prisoner.

On 3 May 1917 he was ordered, along with the rest of his brigade, to attack Oppy Wood Pas-De-Calais when they became pinned down by machine gun fire.

In the following engagement, after two failed attempts at leading his platoon to their objective, Jack single-handedly made a dash towards the machine gun hoping to knock out the gun and save the lives of many of his men, tragically he made the ultimate sacrifice in this action.

For this action he was posthumously awarded the Victoria Cross which was given to his wife Lilian in March 1918 by George V.

The only memorial to Jack Harrison is a plaque on a small stand outside the KC Stadium and I personally, along with many others, believe there should be a more prominent tribute to him such as a statue either outside the KC Stadium or in Hull City Centre.

Hull FC 24 Catalans Dragons 28, Controversial Performance By Referee Leaves Airlie Birds With Bitter Losing Feeling At Season’s End

A truly shambolic display by referee Richard Silverwood cost Hull FC a victory in their final game of their 150th anniversary season despite a memorable last performance by Tom Lineham and Mickey Paea before they head off to pastures new.

This most special of days for this most special of clubs began with many heritage events including a memorial service, singers outside the KC Stadium, a tribute inside the stadium to supporters and players of this great club who have passed away since the end of the 2014 season and club captain Gareth Ellis, club legend Johnny Whiteley MBE and their oldest and youngest season pass members bringing the match ball on to the tune of We Could Be Heroes Just For One Day.

Lee Radford restored Jordan Thompson, Richard Whiting and departing winger Tom Lineham to his line-up with Jack Downs, Leon Pryce and Dean Hadley making way from the team that played against Huddersfield Giants.

Jack Logan was returned to his more customary Centre position having deputised on the wing in the absence of Lineham last week while Jordan Abdull switched back to Stand-Off having played at Loose Forward against the Giants, fellow academy graduates Jansin Turgut and Brad Fash retained their places on the bench.

The first chance soon came the way of the black and white’s as Mark Minichiello and then Liam Watts made barnstorming runs and offloaded Harlem Globetrotter style before Abdull made a break from his own 20 meter line into Catalans territory, but the attack was brought to an end as a delicate grubber was shepherded over the dead ball line.

The Dragons however drew first blood in the 5th minute as a concerted effort in attack on the Hull line saw Jordan Sigismeau scramble over somewhat fortuitously in the left corner, the lead went unimproved as Scott Dureau pushed his touchline conversion across the face of the uprights.

Straight from the kick off the Dragons coughed up possession with a knock on giving the Airlie Birds head and feed 15 meters from the Dragons line, back-to-back penalties increased the pressure on the Dragons defence but then a knock on by Marc Sneyd handed them possession back with a scrum.

The Dragons next push into the Hull half forced a goal line drop out as Curtis Naughton had to run a dangerous grubber kick dead, however that chance came to nothing for the visitors as they surrendered possession in broken field.

Hull then surrendered the ball as a move from right to left saw the ball thrown into touch with Naughton unable to get anywhere near the pass giving the Dragons easy possession in Hull’s half as the Dragons threatened the line though Sigismeau was pounced on by Lineham and the Warrington-bound winger was able to steal the ball one-on-one.

Hull were granted another opportunity with a penalty for offside which Abdull planted into touch 40 meters from the Dragons line, another penalty then gave Hull more territory and possession but a clever little grubber by Sneyd wasn’t read by any of his team-mates and Catalans full-back Morgan Escare was able to clear it up in front of their posts.

Catalans then tried one of their party tricks on the first tackle after receiving head and feed on Hull’s 20 meter line but somehow Krisnan Inu and Tony Gigot contrived to hand the ball to Naughton 5 meters from the Hull line.

The Dragons next attack saw another grubber being chased by Inu but Naughton again beat him to the ball to push it dead for another goal line drop out, back-to-back penalties for the Dragons then saw the home defensive line stretched to its limits and eventually Sydney Roosters bound Ian Henderson scrambled over in the 24th minute to stretch their lead, the conversion by Dureau took them into double figures.

A penalty for a high tackle then gave the Dragons more territory and Inu finally got his try as he managed to reach out through three defenders to ground the ball in the 27th minute, Dureau’s conversion attempt from the touchline again went across the face of goal but Catalans had a worrying looking 14 point lead.

Another penalty for the french side again saw them building pressure on the home sides line and after two errors by either side Canberra Raiders recruit Elliott Whitehead was able to cross in controversial circumstances in the 31st minute as the match was seemingly slipping away from Hull, the conversion from Dureau made it a 20 point lead for the visitors.

A knock on at the play the ball by Catalans then gave Hull head and feed on their 20 meter line and another chance to build some pressure and eventually the pressure told as a flowing move from left to right saw Lineham easily cross in the right corner with space to spare in the 34th minute, the touchline conversion from Sneyd however was just wide but at least the Airlie Birds had shown some intent at last.

A stupid attempt at a miracle offload by Hull gave the Dragons another scrum 30 meters from the home sides line but a comedy of errors between Whitehead and Escare handed possession back to Hull as Naughton grabbed the loose ball with Escare flat on his back.

As a result of that the black and white’s swept up-field and Abdull was able to bash his way through some frantic defending to register Hull’s second try, Sneyd however was again just off target with the touchline conversion attempt but with two tries in four minutes you could visibly see confidence and enthusiasm flowing back into the home side.

Another attack by the black and white’s almost brought more reward as Naughton made a dash down the left hand side but a suspicious tackle by Whitehead stopped him 15 meters out and, though Hull showed some desperation to keep the attack going they ran out of time as the half time break arrived with them within 10 meters of the Dragons posts.

During the break Hull FC legend John ‘Jack’ Harrison VC and MC was remembered with a resounding rendition of Old Faithful and a parade by current and ex military, former players and youth players on a day when, fittingly, the visitors were from France, honouring his still held club record of 52 tries in a season (1914-1915) and his outstanding bravery when fighting in France in World War 1 for which he received his Military Cross and posthumous Victoria Cross.

The first chance of the second half came to Hull when Richard Silverwood awarded them a penalty in Catalans territory, unfortunately the chance was wasted as Jack Logan was forced into touch five meters from the Dragons try line.

The Dragons were then piggy backed up the field as they were given a penalty for a ball-steal.

Hull’s next attack came when Logan made a break in midfield but just as it looked like the Dragons were running out of numbers in defence Danny Houghton tripped and sprawled on the floor as he took the pass from the young Centre.

Hull attacked again and a dangerous kick from Sneyd saw Hull regain the ball and given another six tackles and eventually the pressure on the visitors was too much to bare as Naughton got the try his performance had deserved in the left corner with less than 10 minutes of the half gone, Sneyd however was having a bad day with the boot and his latest touchline conversion again drifted wide leaving Hull eight points behind.

Three minutes later a move as fast as a powerboat across the Humber saw Lineham set free down the right and the powerful winger swatted off two defenders to race in at the corner, Jordan Rankin attempted the latest touchline conversion but again it drifted just wide.

Benjamin Garcia then appeared to have a touch of the Ben Pomeroy’s about him as he scragged Logan and thumped him to the ground causing the young Centre to need treatment on the ground as Hull’s enthusiasm threatened to strangle the visitors after their early dominance.

Hull then gifted Catalans six points when Jordan Abdull tried to kick deep but it was blocked by two defenders and Rankin claimed the loose ball but then dropped it in the tackle presenting the ball to Thomas Bosc with nobody near to stop him going under the posts, the conversion from Dureau made it a 10 point lead again for the Dragons with 22 minutes remaining.

Rankin then repeated the dose as he ran the ball back after the next kick by Catalans this time handing them a scrum 20 meters out, a penalty then increased the pressure and Whitehead was held up over the line and then a grubber kick was grounded over the line by Kirk Yeaman causing Hull to have to drop out from under their posts for a third time in the game.

After yet another penalty the Dragons continued to pursue another score but with their defence back to its miserly best the Airlie Birds held them out this time.

A flowing Catalans move saw them move far too easily from one end of the field to the other but with the line gaping and a match winning score beckoning they somehow contrived to blow the chance as Bosc knocked on in front of the line when it would have been easier to score.

Hull then went to the other end and pushed the issue but Lineham just put his foot in touch before he dived in at the corner.

Catalans then definitely got the rub of the green as Silverwood failed to see a forward pass that would have made Michael Dobson at magic in 2012 proud and then harshly were given a penalty on halfway.

The referee then went about his main business of the day awarding the Dragons yet another penalty 20 meters out and Dureau obliged to give them a 12 point lead with eight minutes remaining.

Two minutes later and Lineham had his hat-trick to say goodbye with as another fast move saw him finish spectacularly in the corner, another miss from Rankin on the touchline again left an eight point gap so Hull still needed two scores.

Lineham was then denied a fourth try as the ball was adjudged to have gone forward off Jack Logan from a high kick by Sneyd.

Hull were then controversially denied another score by Silverwood as he continued to gift wrap the win for the Dragons as Logan put Houghton through with a deft short pass and the hooker raced in only to have the try disallowed incredibly for a forward pass which was definitely not forward in any way, shape or form.

Lineham then got his fourth try after two more penalties and a fast move left to right again saw the winger dive in spectacularly in the corner, this time Sneyd took a token drop-kick at goal after the final hooter.

So yet another frustrating season draws to a close for the Airlie birds and their superb band of supporters and the club will now take stock and move on to 2016 when Frank Pritchard, Sika Manu, Scott Taylor, Danny Washbrook, Carlos Tuimavave and Mahe Fonua will join the ranks of the black and white’s.

Catalans coach Laurent Fraysinnous said it was a big deal for his team to have won at the KC Stadium for the first time since 2007 and it will help them to look forward to 2016 despite another frustrating season when many had expected them to challenge for the top 4 with signings such as Willie Tonga, Todd Carney and the returning Remi Casty.

Hull coach Lee Radford, summing up his sides season, said they had been gallant in defeat and there had been no issues with their effort and commitment to the cause, he also went on to say that the creation of the under 23’s side and the merged ‘Super Academy’ with Hull KR’s youth squads are a definite positive moving forward.

Attendance 10,832

Man of the Match: Tom Lineham

Penalties: Hull FC 11 Catalans Dragons 11

Goal Line Drop Outs: Hull FC 3 Catalans Dragons 0

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