2nd Lieutenant 2nd later 1st/7th battalion The Middlesex Regiment

Trevor, as he seems to have been called both in the family and at school, probably to distinguish him from his father Theodore, was born in Highgate on 28th September 1896.  Although I haven’t proved it yet, I believe his paternal grandfather William Hetherington Harris and his maternal grandmother Mary Harris were related, probably cousins.  Both were born in Abingdon and it was there that Mary married William Rowe in 1852.  William Harris was a school master for many years, but his son Theodore William became a dental surgeon, licensed in 1888.

On census day 1891 Theodore was a visitor in the Rowe house in Alverstoke.  William Rowe senior, an Outfitter and Government Contractor, had died in 1887 but seems to have been succeeded in the business by his son William Alexander.  The household was led by William’s widow Mary and it was their daughter Ellen or Helen, who Theodore married early in 1892.  Their first child, Joan Margaret Redford Harris, was born in July 1893.

Presumably both children started their education in North London but in the summer of 1907, not quite fourteen years old, Joan arrived at Bedales.  This must have been a successful experiment as, at almost eleven (and therefor old enough for the senior school), Trevor joined her in September and even the following July he was one of the very youngest boys in the School.

Bedales was undergoing yet another spurt of building; the roof was removed from the two laboratories to build a second story, providing more classrooms and dormitories, allowing the quad glass roof to extend over the whole area.  The girls had outgrown the slightly extended Steephurst and major reconstruction was to take place during the next twelve months.  In July 1908 Dorothy Mahler described what the girls had experienced: “In the early morning you are rudely awakened by the hammer, hammer, hammer of the workmen’s tools or by the crashing down of some fresh part of the house.  As you lie in bed you wonder vaguely if this is the Last Day and speculate on the possibility of the ceiling falling in… The Last of the Bathrooms went the other day.  The new bathrooms are built but they are not usable yet.”  Trevor would not have had quite the same experience but nonetheless the Quad was a mess.

As early as The Show in the Summer Term of 1908 it was recorded that “Harris (has) done good work” in entomology.  He seems to have formed a partnership with Laurin, the younger of the Zilliacus boys, and they worked together for the next two years.  At The Show in 1909 the judge reported, “Zilliacus and Harris showed two cases, one of a Drinker in all its stages and the other of an Emperor.  I have seldom had the pleasure of seeing cases so nicely arranged by Juniors.” He commented unfavourably on their rather scrappy and uncoordinated written work but despite this, they were jointly awarded the Hubbock Prize for Entomology.

The following year they excelled themselves.  Laurin and Trevor had been joined by Brooke Adie and the three boys displayed photos and notes about the birds they had kept during the term: “They have been of general interest to the School throughout the term, giving opportunity for seeing close at hand kestrels, jays, magpies and jackdaws and watching their development.  The general good feeling between the birds and their owners was very obvious and showed the satisfactory conditions under which they were kept.”  They were jointly awarded the Hoffman prize for Ornithology.  However, Trevor had a second string to his bow; with George Cohen (who died in 1915 and has already been commemorated) he had produced work on the life history of moths, “notably the beautiful atlas moth.  Their notes were not very successful but some trouble had been taken with them and Harris deserves praise for doing this work in addition to that on ornithology.”  They won the Hoffman prize for Entomology; Trevor spent his prize money on a new camera.  A picture is emerging of a rather serious minded boy who was capable of considerable application over a period of time and also able to work well with his fellows.

His elder sister Joan was the star of the Girls’ cricket XI in 1910, on one occasion scoring 117 not out, and also topped the bowling averages.  (In 1912 she captained the XI.)  Both Joan and Trevor were enthusiastic bookbinders in 1909 – 10 and may have been involved in the production of one of the Bedales Books, chronicling the school academic and other activities over a year, produced for international exhibitions.

By 1911, Trevor was a squad commander in the Bedales Fire Brigade, a position he held, I think, for the rest of his time at the school.  In the Prize Work of 1912 Trevor was awarded 4 stars for his book binding with the comment “Harris deserves special mention … those who know the difficulties could appreciate the efforts in gilded lettering.”  That year he contributed the brief description of book binding activities to The Bedales Record.  Joan, who had been a House Prefect since June 1911, was made a School Prefect in March 1912 and became Head Girl in the Autumn Term.  She finally left Bedales in summer 1913 and went on the London School of Medicine for Women the following year.

It would seem that Trevor intended to follow a medical career as well; in August 1913 The Bedales Chronicle recorded that T. Harris had been “successful in the Medical Preliminary Examination.”  For the first time during that year Trevor appears in the sporting records in the school publications.  In October 1913 he was victorious in the long jump (16 feet 6½ inches) and second in the hurdles.  In the following summer a swimming match was arranged against some friends of Mr Lowndes (a polo half-blue when he was at Cambridge).  Trevor was the favoured candidate for the two lengths race but came only 4th; however he swam the first leg of the relay race which Bedales won and also played in the successful water-polo team.  The whole match was a close run thing; Bedales lost by 24 points to 26.  Later in June Trevor also achieved the silver medal level in the Royal Life Saving Society’s awards.

The Chronicle records that Trevor was about to take the School Certificate exams in July 1914; usually the results are published in the magazine but in the confusion following the outbreak of war in August seems to have thrust such things aside.  The next reference to Trevor, in The Bedales Chronicle of 13th December, lists him as a Private in the Public Schools Battalion Royal Naval Division; he must have volunteered very soon after the outbreak of war.  Initially, according to Mr. Badley, he was a motorcycle despatch rider in that service but, before the end of the year, he had decided he would like to transfer to the Army.  His commanding officer was prepared to support his application.

The process of exchange took several months and a good deal of correspondence between his CO, The War Office and the Admiralty; (some of this survives in Trevor’s file WO374/31304 in The National Archives). By 18th January 1915 Trevor had completed his application for a commission in the Territorial Force on Army Form E 536 with his own information (13th Jan), a satisfactory medical report (15th Jan) and Mr Badley’s certification of his good moral character, based on his knowledge of Trevor during his seven years at Bedales (18th Jan).  He was recommended for a commission in the 2/7th Battalion of the Middlesex Regiment.  On 25th February the War Office received confirmation from the Admiralty that “directions have been given for this gentleman’s discharge from the Royal Naval Division in order that he may take up his appointment.”

The file at Kew doesn’t detail Trevor’s military career but Mr. Badley wrote that in March 1915 he “went to Gibraltar and afterwards to Egypt, where for several months he was on an armoured train”. The Chronicle was rather behind the times when it recorded in September that he had been “sent on active service against Senussi tribes: now at Minniah on an armoured train.”  In fact the battalion had been ordered to France, arriving at Marseilles on 15th May.  The following day Trevor was diagnosed with an abscess on his neck and left the unit but it wasn’t until 6th June that he left Le Havre on the hospital ship Landfranc and arrived at Southampton the following day.  After a Medical examination he was declared unfit for general service and granted leave from 9th to 31st June.  At about this time the 2/7th battalion was disbanded and when he returned to service at the end of August 1916 it was to the 1/7th Battalion.

In August the battalion had been training with tanks and were heavily involved in the first major tank battle on 15th September in which they lost over 300 men.  The rest of the month saw the battalion constantly in action.  The War Diary of the 1/7th Middlesex records that at 11am on the 1st October they received orders to establish “a line of four posts about 400 yards ahead of the present front line and on crest of ridge” and four patrols were selected to do this.  “At 3.15pm these patrols advanced under an intense barrage.”  The move was successful “without heavy casualties” but Trevor Harris and another Second Lieutenant were wounded.  In his “In Memoriam” account in The Bedales Record of 1916-1917 Mr. Badley described the event.  “A shrapnel bullet hit him in the forehead just under the steel helmet.  He made very little of it: in fact walked to the Battalion Head Quarters saying he was alright and would be back in England in three or four days.  The doctor dressed the wound and, as he seemed a little dizzy, sent him to the casualty clearing station on a stretcher.  When he got there he was unconscious and remained so to the end two days later.”  Trevor died on the 3rd October and lies buried in grave I. M. 17 in Grove Town Cemetery, Meaulte.  The Bedales Chronicle of 22nd October recorded the fact of his death and that of four other OBs (who have already been commemorated) the battle of the Somme was taking its toll of Bedalians.  Mr. Badley’s tribute concludes: “His fellow officers all say that he was extraordinarily keen and very fearless and his men were very fond of him, and would follow him anywhere because of his courage and cheerfulness.  He had a copy of the bedales chronicle in his pocket when he died."

A postscript.

Trevor’s sister Joan, after qualifying as a doctor, in 1921 married ex-member of staff William Turner Warwick (who had left Bedales in 1911 to study medicine).  Their son Richard was at Bedales from 1938 – 1942, then Oriel College Oxford before qualifying as a surgeon.  His wife Margaret, another distinguished medic and first woman to be President of the Royal College of Physicians, was a Governor then Chair of Governors at Bedales in the late 1960s.  Both their daughters are also OBs.