b. 03/02/1886 Torquay, Devon. d. 23/04/1918 Zeebrugge, Belgium.
Harrison was born in Torquay, Devon, and educated at Brockhurst Preparatory School, where he is remembered every Armistice Day and at Dover College. At school Harrison was a tremendous all-round games player and, whilst in the Navy, he played rugby union and was capped several times for England. He is the only England Rugby International to have been awarded the VC. Harrison was 32 years old, and a Lieutenant-Commander in the Royal Navy during the First World War when the following deed took place at the Zeebrugge Raid for which he was awarded the VC.
For most conspicuous gallantry at Zeebrugge on the night of the 22nd-23rd April, 1918. This officer was in immediate command of the Naval Storming Parties embarked in 'Vindictive'. Immediately before coming alongside the Mole Lieut.-Commander Harrison was struck on the head by a fragment of a shell which broke his jaw and knocked him senseless. Recovering consciousness he proceeded on to the Mole and took over command of his party, who were attacking the seaward end of the Mole. The silencing of the guns on the Mole head was of the first importance, and though in a position fully exposed to the enemy's machine-gun fire Lieut.-Commander Harrison gathered his men together and led them to the attack. He was killed at the head of his men, all of whom were either killed or wounded. Lieut.-Commander Harrison, though already severely wounded and undoubtedly in great pain, displayed indomitable resolution and courage of the highest order in pressing his attack, knowing as he did that any delay in silencing the guns might jeopardise the main object of the expedition, i.e., the blocking of the Zeebrugge-Bruges Canal.
LOCATION OF MEDAL: BRITANNIA ROYAL NAVAL COLLEGE, DARTMOUTH.
BURIAL PLACE: NO KNOWN GRAVE - ON ZEEBRUGGE MEMORIAL, BELGIUM.
Arthur Harrison's VC (front and back) courtesy of the Britannia Naval College archive.
Roundham Head, Paignton, Devon