Lyn Arthur Philip Harris

 

Captain; 16th (Service) Battalion [Cardiff City], The Welsh Regiment

Killed in action: 11th July 1916, Mametz Wood

Lyn Arthur Philip Harris was born in 1892 in Redcote on Station Road in Llanishen, to Arthur John and Joan Harris. His father was Clerk to the Cardiff Board of Guardians. Lyn was baptised in St Isan’s Church and subsequently attended Cardiff High School and Denston College, Staffordshire, where he served in the cadet corps. He then went on to work as an engineering apprentice for the Rhymney Railway.

On the outbreak of war in 1914 he joined the Public Schools Battalion of the Royal Fusiliers and the following year obtained a commission in the 16th Battalion of the Welsh Regiment (the “Cardiff City” Battalion), serving under fellow Llanishen man, Lieutenant-Colonel Frank Hill Gaskell. In October 1915 he married Mary Gardiner, also from Llanishen. They had relatively little time together, as he went to France with the battalion that December.

Lyn was present at the death and funeral of Lt.Col. Gaskell in May 1916 and was subsequently appointed battalion adjutant. In July 1916 the 16th Welsh, along with the rest of the 38th (Welsh) Division were brought up to continue the offensive on the Somme, and saw their first action at Mametz Wood. The battle in the shattered woodland raged for several days, with Lyn and the 16th Welsh moving up to attack on the 10th July. Their advance was to be prefaced by a large artillery barrage, but it was here that disaster struck. Some of the British shells “fell short”, landing amongst the 16th Welsh and causing many casualties. The Germans, sensing what was to come, immediately targeted their own artillery on the 16th Welsh, so that the whole line became a maelstrom of artillery.

It was during this chaos that Lyn was mortally wounded by shrapnel. As he was carried to the aid station, he handed his wedding ring to Major Smith, the battalion commander, asking for it to be passed to his wife. He died a few hours later, aged 24.

Lyn Harris is buried in Dantzig Alley Cemetery on the Somme, and is also named on the memorials in St Isan’s Church. A memorial window for his father also commemorates him.