4791 Private Oliver James Harmon, copy from Parramatta Soldiers, Cumberland Argus, 1920

Oliver (Joe) James Harmon joined the 15 reinforcements of the 13 Infantry Battalion on 10 November 1915 when the Gilgandra Coo-ees passed through Parramatta. He was the fourth of six ‘fine’ sons of William Henry and Jessie “Maria” Harmon. The family lived on Alfred Street, Granville, Sydney and Oliver Harmon was well-known in the district where he resided for most of his life. As a boy he attended the North Granville Public School.

A boilermaker’s assistant prior to enlisting, he had also “done a good deal of shearing in the West”, and was, “in a physical sense, a fine stamp of Australian, standing 6 foot, and built in proportion”. He embarked from Sydney aboard HMAT Star of England (A 15) on 8 March 1916 and landed first in Egypt before transferring to the 4 Pioneer Battalion in April 1916 in Tel el Kebir, Egypt. By 4 June 1916, his Unit joined the British Expeditionary Force in Alexandria for Marseilles, France.

Sadly on 6 August 1916, during the battle at Pozieres, France, he was killed in action. He was 31 years old. He has no known grave and is remembered with honour on the Villers-Bretonneux Memorial, France.

Two of his younger brothers were said to have also served: Percy Harmon (service number 4965) served in the Australian Royal Navy and Robert Henry Harmon (also known as “Sparrow”) was said to have trained “in the Liverpool camp”.

Anne Tsang, Research Assistant, Parramatta Council, Heritage Centre, 2015

Australian War Memorial. Roll of honour: Oliver James Harmon https://www.awm.gov.au/collection/H05549/

Family Notices. (1918, August 10). The Cumberland Argus and Fruitgrowers Advocate,  p. 6. http://nla.gov.au/nla.news-article86210237

Killed in action. (1916, September 9). The Cumberland Argus and Fruitgrowers Advocate, p. 10. http://nla.gov.au/nla.news-article86076476

Roll of Honor: Harmon [Family notice]. (1919, August 9). The Cumberland Argus and Fruitgrowers Advocate,  p. 6. http://nla.gov.au/nla.news-page8964426