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Australian woman travelled thousands of miles to visit soldier grandfather’s grave in Cromer

PUBLISHED: 14:20 23 December 2017 | UPDATED: 14:20 23 December 2017

David Rowley pictured at the headstone of Albert Harris at Cromer cemetery a few years ago.
Picture: ANTONY KELLY

David Rowley pictured at the headstone of Albert Harris at Cromer cemetery a few years ago. Picture: ANTONY KELLY

Archant Norfolk 2014

Former soldier David Rowley will once again make his way to Cromer’s new cemetery over the festive period to leave poppies on the military graves and make sure those that died are remembered.

Judith Chapman, left, on her visit to Cromer. With David Rowley on the right. In between them are Ian and Margaret Alexander. Picture: David BaleJudith Chapman, left, on her visit to Cromer. With David Rowley on the right. In between them are Ian and Margaret Alexander. Picture: David Bale

One of those he particularly looks out for is that of Private Albert Harris, an Australian soldier who was buried at the cemetery in 1917 during the First World War.

Mr Harris’ story has been at the forefront of Mr Rowley’s thoughts this year as his granddaughter Judith Chapman travelled from Melbourne, Australia, for Armistice Day and to visit the grave on the 100th anniversary of his death.

She found out that her grandfather was buried at the cemetery after an article in the North Norfolk News about Mr Rowley which found its way down under via the internet.

Mr Rowley, 73, who lives near the cemetery in Cromer, said: “I have been in contact with Judith ever since then and she combined a visit to the grave with a lecture she was giving at Cambridge Iniversity. She’s a professor in Australia.

Albert Harris, who died in 1917, is buried in Cromer Cemetery. Picture: Submitted.Albert Harris, who died in 1917, is buried in Cromer Cemetery. Picture: Submitted.

“She was very thrilled to be here on the 100th anniversary of her grandfather’s death. She had promised her mum, who is no longer with us, that she would do her best to visit the grave on the 100th anniversary, to put flowers there.”

Private Harris was injured in France in 1917, was shipped to the Red House Auxiliary Hospital in Cromer, now Halsey House, but died just weeks later.

The Australian Infantry 8th Battalion private 5392 was from Wangaratta, Victoria. He enlisted on January 14, 1916, and embarked from Melbourne, Victoria on April 4 that year, on board His Majesty’s Australian Transport A14 Euripides.

He died just 10 months later on November 12, 1917, age 36, after being wounded a month earlier in his left leg.

It was amputated on October 14, and on his arrival in Cromer a doctor’s report said he had been in a good condition.

But with damaged kidneys, Private Harris “passed peacefully away” and was buried with full military honours, more than 10,000 miles away from his wife Ada in Victoria.

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