Cecil Rochfort Harman

Date of birth: Q3 (Jul – Sept) 1897
Place of birth: Hungerford, Berkshire
Service No.: Unknown
Rank: Second Lieutenant
Regiment: Gloucestershire
Battalion: 1st
Died: 10th November 1917 aged 20 years
Death location: Passchendaele

 

Life before the war
Cecil Rochfort Harman was born in 1897 in Hungerford, Berkshire to parents Violet Mary Roberta (nee Rochfort) and Albert Brice.  His mother Violet was born on 14th October 1866 in Colombo, Sri Lanka and his father Albert was born in 1865 in Camberwell, London.

It appears that Albert and Violet may have met whilst both working at The Taunton & Somerset Hospital.  The 1891 census shows that Albert was a Resident Assistant at the hospital, whilst Violet was employed as a nurse there.  They married on 1st July 1896.  Cecil was their only child.

In the 1901 census the family were living at Bellevue Road in Southampton along with Alice Tary who was Violet’s sister, a housemaid, a cook and a nurse.  Cecil was 3 years old at this time.  His dad’s occupation is listed as being a surgeon.

The 1911 census shows that his parents were living at 1 Cranbury Terrace in Southampton along with their niece Violet Kathleen Tary, a housemaid and a cook whilst Cecil himself was away at Highfield Boarding school in Liphook, aged 13.

Cecil’s dad Albert died 25th December 1945 at the age of 80 at The Royal South Hampshire and Southampton Hospital.  Cecil’s mother Violet died 25th September 1946 in Salisbury.

 

War Service
Cecil was second lieutenant in the 1st Battalion of the Gloucestershire regiment.  A second lieutenant is a newly commissioned officer whose role was to command a platoon and possibly lead trench raids and patrols.  They would normally progress on to become a lieutenant within a few years after they became proficient in their duties.

According to the 1st Battalion Gloucestershire regiment’s war diary Cecil joined the 1st Battalion on the 16th June 1917.  Five months later on the 10th November 1917 he was killed in action during the Battle of Passchendaele in Belgium.  The following describes the movements and actions of the Battalion during Cecil’s short time with them:

On the 16th June 1917 at 5pm the battalion left Caestre in France and marched to Staple.  The day was exceptionally hot and marching was described as almost impossible during the day.  The next few days were spent training whilst at Staple.  They were soon joined by 81 other ranks on the 18th June.

In the early morning of 21st June they took a 4 ½ hour march on to Wormhoudt, marching in brigade with transport to rear.  From there they then took a 6 ½ hour march to Malo Terminus via Tax and Galgoeck the following day. 

They spent two days there in villas on the sea front before marching on to Leffring Houck Bridge on the 25th June where they embarked on barges which were towed up the canal to Furnes via Adinkerke.  From there they marched to St Idesbald where they stayed in tents and billets (soldier’s accommodation, normally in civilian houses) while the officers stayed in hotels.  They then spent the next few days training on the sands.

On the 3rd July they marched on to Bador camp near Coxyde Bains and then the following day to Juniac camp.  They spent several days training there but started to receive slight shelling in the back areas on the 9th July.  The shelling had turned heavy on the 10th July and the bombardment continued all day with shelling falling in all villages and camps.  Further shelling took place the following day but then followed a few quiet days.

On the 17th July the battalion marched back to Leffring Houck, then to a camp West of St. Pol and on to Le Clipon camp on the 19th July where they joined up with ‘B’& ‘C’ companies.  They would then stay at the camp for the next few months training, participating in rugby and football competitions and cross country races until the 19th October.

On the 20th October the Battalion marched on to Eringham, Rubrouck and then eventually on to the Houtkerque area near the border of Belgium where they stayed until the 6th November before moving on to Dambre camp north of Vlamertinghe in Belgium.  On the 7th November the Battalion moved into the line in support.  They received slight shelling on the 8th and heavy shelling on the 9th November.

On the morning of the 10th November the Battalions in the line attacked but had to withdraw owing to heavy shell fire.  About 9.30am ‘D’ company of the battalion was ordered to go forward and support the left attacking battalion.  They were given orders to take up a position in front of their original line at Tournant farm. 

About 10am ‘A’ company were ordered to proceed forward and report to the right attacking battalion and an hour later the remaining two companies ‘B’ & ‘C’ were given orders to report there as well.  ‘B’ company was ordered to go into the line while ‘A’ and ‘C’ companies were to remain in support.  There was very heavy shelling and rifle fire all day resulting in numerous casualties.  Out of the 27 casualties listed in the Battalion’s diary that day, Cecil Harman was the only fatality.  

Cecil was buried at the Divisional Collecting Post Cemetery and Extension in Leper, West Vlaanderen in Belgium.  Grave ref no. I.B.15.

 

Researcher: Louise Link
Published: 1st January 2016
Updated: Insert dates here

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