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73838 Rifleman Thomas John (John/Jack) Stephen Harris -  NZ Rifle Brigade

Thomas John (John) Stephen Harris was born in Pauatahanui on the 23rd May 1886 the youngest of ten children born
to Jessie (nee Clark) and William Harris[i]. Thomas was known as John or Jack during his life. 

John’s parents had lived in the Paremata / Pauatahanui from the 1860’s with a number of John’s older brothers, sisters and numerous cousins attending Pauatahanui School. John started at the school in
1891[ii]


                                                                                                        John Harris - c 1900

John worked on his father’s farm, in mid 1917 he was selected in the military service
ballot. On 8th October 1917 John was attested for military service. John’s military
files note that he was a 31 year old single man working on his father’s farm and he
gave his father William Harris, Pauatahanui as his next of kin.  John was also
underwent a military medical examination with passed him as C1 his file notes that
he had a history of asthma.[iii] The C1 grading indicated that the medical examiner
considered the minor issues could be overcome and the recruit would be fit to
serve.

John also submitted an appeal against compulsory training the Evening Post

carrying the judgement of the Military Board:[iv]

            Thomas Harris, farmer, Pahautanui, said he worked his father’s farm.

            His father was close to 80 years of age and was too old to do much work.
            The appeal was dismissed, leave being granted until 18th December.

On 16th January 1918, 73838 Private Thomas John Stephen Harris entered military

training camp with C Company C1. During the initial training Private Harris
underwent a second medical examination where he was regarded as fit the board noting:

                ‘Shortness of breath at times, no attack since he has been in camp’.


Private Harris in March 1918 and was considered fit enough to be placed in the 39th Reinforcements however during training he was transferred to E Company, 40th Reinforcements leaving New Zealand on the 10th July 1918 with this unit .

The 40th Reinforcements arrived in England in August 1918 and  Private Harris was transferred to the Reserve Battalion
of the New Zealand Rifle Brigade (NZ(R)B)  where he became 73838 Rifleman Harris.

Rifleman Harris was still training in England at the end of the war, remaining there until July 1919 when he was repatriated to New Zealand.

Rifleman Harris was discharged from the NZEF on the 8th October 1919 ‘ on termination of his period of engagement'

John returned to farming at Pauatahanui , he never married and died in Pauatahanui on 2nd January 1963 his death
being reported to the Defence Department by his nephew[v].

Thomas John (John) Stephen Harris is commemorated on the Pauatahanui Roll of Honour[v] in the St Alban’s Church,
Pauatahanui [vi].  

Notes
The modern spelling Pauatahanui is used unless in quoted documents.

References
Oral History Harris family 
Pauatahanui – a local history: Helen Reilly
Archway Archives New Zealand – Military Files
Kete Horowhenua: David Clark & Riria Parata
NZ BDM

Photos
John Harris c1900: Extended Harris family 
Pauatanui Bridge and Village Hall c1911: Pataka 

[i]    Harris; www.wikitree.com/wiki/harris-10300
[ii]   Pauatahanui School Roll 1873 – 2003
[iii]  Archway Archives New Zealand Military Files: 73838 Rifleman Thomas John Stephen Harris
[iv]  Appeals, 11th October 917, Evening Post
[v]   Archway Archives New Zealand Military Files: 73838 Rifleman Thomas John Stephen Harris
[vi]  Pauatahanui - a local history 

Pauatahanui Village c1911