Walter won an Open Classical Exhibition at Merton College but enlisted after his first year of study. He died at the Somme.
Born in Lancashire
Walter Bernard Harrison was born in 1896 in Lancashire. He was the son of a Methodist minister, and in 1901 the family were living in Kent. Like many sons of ministers, who were required to move home frequently, he became a boarder at Kingswood School in Bath, a Methodist foundation.
Studied at Merton College
Walter won an Open Classical Exhibition at Merton College Oxford, and began his studies in 1914. He joined the University Officers’ Training Corps and completed only one year of his course before enlisting in July 1915.
Fought at the Somme
Walter joined a Public Schools battalion of the Royal Fusiliers, where he appears not to have sought promotion, but remained a private. His battalion landed in France in November 1915, and was then in the trenches. They fought from the opening of the Battle of the Somme in July 1916. As a private Walter would have been less exposed to danger than as a junior officer, and he survived his first two engagements. However, on 20 July he took part in an early-morning attack at High Wood and was killed by shell fire, aged 20. He is buried nearby in an unmarked grave, and is commemorated on the Thiepval Memorial.