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Colonel HS Harris

TODAY IN KIMBERLEY’S HISTORY 3 JUNE

3 June 1932, Colonel HS Harris dies (pictured).
3 June 1952, Official opening of Belgrave Lodge by Harry Oppenheimer.

Also pictured is the house “Lancaster Lodge” where Herbert Harris died and his Fob Watch won in a shooting competition.

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Lancaster Lodge

DID YOU KNOW

Herbert Sextus Harris, the fifth child of seven to Sir David Harris and Rosa Harris (nee Gabriel), was born in Kimberley on Saturday 19 January 1884.

“Herby”, as he was affectionately known, was educated at Kimberley Boy’s High School when the school was still based at the Public Undenominational School on Lanyon Terrace. Studying law after school he was called to the Bar on 19 November 1906, but only practised until 1908 when he became one of four Kimberley members of the Cape Legislative Assembly. This Assembly closed upon the Union being formed on 31 May 1910.

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Fob Watch won in Shooting Competition

He was sixteen years of age by 1900 and as a son of a De Beers Director would have been on speaking terms with most famous Kimberley personalities such as Cecil Rhodes, Barney Barnato (his father’s cousin), and Alfred Beit as well as having met Lord Roberts and General JDP French who spent some time in the diamond city. He was also friendly with Sol Plaatje, who died on 19 June 1932, a mere 16 days after his own death.

Possibly the last contribution of Plaatje to the press was an article entitled “Departed Friends of the Natives”, in which he eulogized the services of Colonel Herbert S Harris, Miss Colenso and Mr H.M. Taberer, all of whom had recently died.

Matters military appealed to Herby as he soon followed in the footsteps of his father Sir David Harris.

He was appointed a Lieutenant in the Kimberley Regiment on 24 October 1908, and after holding positions as Captain and Major became the Officer Commanding the Kimberley Regiment in 1912 as a Lt-Colonel – quite a rapid rate of promotion.

It was that same year of 1912 that he won the Regimental Long Range Shooting competition being awarded a solid silver watch fob for his skills.

On 1 July 1913 the aeroplane Paterson Aviation Syndicate was registered in Kimberley, Herby being one of the directors, the others being Tom Hill, Cecil Paterson, Ernest Oppenheimer, Alpheus Williams, Charles May, David Macgill and George Robertson.

War clouds were brewing and upon outbreak of the Great War in 1914 he commanded the 1st Battalion Kimberley Regiment in German South West Africa and concluding that campaign in 1915, then saw active service in 1916 in France as a Captain in the Royal Fusiliers, being wounded in the head on 1 February 1917. Recovering from his wound he saw further service in East Africa with the King’s Own Rifles, although attached to the Gold Coast Regiment. Twice mentioned in despatches he was awarded the CBE (Commander of the Military Division of the Most Excellent Order of the British Empire).

His service medals included the 1914-15 Star, the British War Medal and the Victory Medal.

Returning to Kimberley after the war he was re-appointed as Officer Commanding the Kimberley regiment where he remained until his retirement in 1925. From 1 November 1926 until 1 January 1930 he was Brigade Commander 2nd Infantry Brigade (Active Citizen Force), upon ending being placed on the Reserve Officer’s List. He was awarded the Volunteer Decoration (VD) for his citizen force service.

His health in his last few years was not good as a result of the head wound suffered in World War I, and was in a nursing home in England from 1929, returning to Kimberley in April 1932.

On the last day of his life, 3 June 1932, he had played a round of golf at the Kimberley golf course (now Monument Heights, Kimberley Junior School and the Moth Centre) before returning to his home at “Lancaster Lodge” on Dutoitspan road. Shortly after midday he passed from this life with “tragic suddenness”.

He is buried in the Jewish section of the Pioneer Cemetery in Kimberley.

From Kimberley Calls and Recalls on Facebook By Steve Lunderstedt

Aeon Computer Kimberley

About Steve Lunderstedt

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