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Author Topic: P.C. Clement Robert Harris - knocked down whilst on bicycle patrol 1951  (Read 32 times)
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« on: May 13, 2018, 08:14:05 AM »

P.C. Clement Robert Harris

On the Tuesday 3rd July 1951 P.C. Clement Harris was knocked off his bicycle in Rotherfield, East Sussex.  He was 53 years of age.  He had nearly completed his 30 years service and was only two months away from his retirement.  He sustained injuries from the crash and died in hospital on Wednesday 4th July 1951.

Sussex Agricultural Express - Friday 06 July 1951


Due to retire in two months time, P.C. Clement Harris, of Rotherfield, received fatal injuries on Tuesday night while riding a bicycle in Mayfield Lane, Rotherfield.  He was involved in an accident with a motor car driven by Mrs. Mildred Dawson, of the Post Office, Town Row, Rotherfield.  Mr. Harris was taken to the Kent and Sussex Hospital, Tunbridge Wells where he died on Wednesday morning.

A member of the East Sussex Police Force for 30 years, Mr. Harris was based at Selmeston and Battle before going to Rotherfield in 1938.  He took an active interest in police sporting activities and was winner of a number of uniformed cycle events.  

He was Hon. Secretary of Rotherfield Rifle Club and was also a member of the Bowls Club.  He was Hon. Secretary of the local National Savings Group and had also been an Hon. Secretary and Treasurer of Rotherfield Horticultural Society.  Mr. Harris took a great interest in cricket and was scorer for the Uckfield Divisional cricket team.

He served in the Royal Navy in the first World War and was bomb reconnaisance officer for the Crowborough Sub-Division during the 1939-1945 war.

He leaves a widow and three sons.

Superintendent T. Amos, when he received a presentation on his retirement at a meeting of the committee of Uckfield Divisional Sports Club on Wednesday referred to P.C. Harris's tragic death. He said "I knew P.C. Harris when he first joined the force. He was very efficient and one of the most popular officers in the force. His sad end has come as a shock to us all".  The meeting aid silent tribute to the memory of Mr. Harris.


The Coroner's inquest and P.C. Harris' funeral

Eastbourne Gazette - Wednesday 11 July 1951


A verdict of accidental death was recorded at the inquest at Tunbridge Wells on Saturday on Police Constable C.R. Harris, a native of Eastbourne and well known in the town, who died last Wednesday following an accident while he was on cycle patrol in Rotherfield.

It was stated that the constable, who would have completed 30 years service in two months time was knocked off his bicycle by a woman learner driver.  At the inquest Mrs. Mildred Dawson, of The Post office, Town Road, Rotherfield, the driver of the car, said she saw P.C. Harris in front of her and sounded her horn, more in greeting than an indication she was overtaking.

"Felt Slight Bump"

The officer signalled her on and as she was about to pass a bus rounded the bend in front of her.  She thought that there was sufficient room to pass between the police officer and the bus and as she did she felt a slight bump, pulled up and found the constable lying unconscious on the road.

Anthony Ernest Dawson, who accompanied his mother in the car, said that as an experienced driver he "could have got there but it would have been a tight squeeze".  The Coroner, Mr. J.H. Soady, said that the driver, in her inexperience, chose an unfortunate moment and place to pass.

The accident occurred in Mayfield Lane, Rothefield on Tuesday evening,  P.C. Harris sustaining severe head injuries from which he died within a few hours after his admission to hospital in Tunbridge Wells.

He was the son of the late Mr. and Mrs. Albert Harris of 28, Duke Street.  He was educated at the old East Street School, which he attended when it was first opened, and was afterwards employed by the Southern Publishing Company at their local offices and subsequently by Messrs Sainsbury.  He married Miss Kate White of Eastbourne and they have three children.

Serving in the Royal Navy during the first world war, he joined the East Sussex Constabulary in 1921 and went to Rotherfield from Battle before the last war during which he was police bomb reconnaissance officer for the Sub-Division of Crowborough.

P.C. Harris was the Secretary of the Rotherfield Rifle Club and the National Savings Group, an official of the Rotherfield Horticultural Society and a member of the village bowls club.  He has two sisters : Mrs. Poulter of South Street and Mrs. Hammond of New Road.

The funeral of P.C. Harris took place at Rotherfield Parish Church on Monday, the service being conducted by the vicar (the Rev. J.N. Collins) assisted by the Rev. J. Lee of St. Peter's Southwick, an old friend.


Shops in the village were closed and the Chief Constable of Eat Sussex (Mr. R. Breffit), four police superintendents and three police inspectors headed a procession of over sixty police officers.  The Kent County Police and the East Sussex Fire Brigade were also represented as were the Mark Cross Magistrates, and the clubs and societies with which P.C. Harris had been actively associated.

The family mourners included the widow and her three sons, Gilbert, Sidney and Douglas, Mr. Walter White and Mr. Fred White (brothers-in-law), Mrs. G. Harris (daughter-in-law), Miss D. Harris, Mrs. J. Hammond, Mrs. G. Heritage and Mrs. J.W. Poulter (sisters), Mr. J.W. Poulter (brother-in-law) and Mrs. Griffiths.

There were a hundred wreaths

Each of the above newspaper reports carries a photograph of P.C. Harris - unfortunately the BNA copies of the newspaper articles don't reproduce the photographs well and they are not very good.  I have still attached them - apologies for the quality.

P.C. Harris is also commemorated on the Sussex Police Roll of Honour which shows (it has a slight innaccuracy)

                            Sussex Police Roll of Honour
                              PC Clement Robert Harris
                             Died 3 July 1951, aged 53
  Fatally injured when struck by a motorcycle whilst on bicycle patrol.

Rotherfield is only a few miles from where I live and my wife has kindly agreed to go there this morning and see if we can find P.C. Harris' grave.  I'll update the bit later.

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PC Harris.png
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« Reply #1 on: May 13, 2018, 10:23:10 AM »

Name:   Clement Robert Harris
Gender:   Male
Birth Date:   5 May 1898
Birth Place:   East Ness Sussex
First Service Date:   18 Jan 1917
First Ship Served On:   Victory II
Last Service Date:   8 Mar 1919
Last Ship Served On:   Minotaur
Service Number:   K40093
Awarded Victory & British Medals

Probate. Of  Rose Cottage, Rotherfield. Died 4.7.1951 at The Kent & Sussex Hospital Tunbridge Wells. Admin to Kathleen Helena Harris, widow. Effects £869

Married Kathleen H White ¼ Dec 1922 Eastbourne District.

In 1939 Clement(5.5.1898) & Kathleen(24.3.1900) & Sidney V(1925) at County Police, South St, Uckfield District
Clement a Police Constable. Son Sidney a Grocers Asssistant

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« Reply #2 on: May 13, 2018, 14:56:32 PM »

The final resting place of P.C. Harris.  His grave is in Rotherfield Burial Ground which is an extension of the churchyard of St. Denys' Church, Rotherfield, East Sussex.    There is only one entrance to the burial ground and that is in the top right hand corner - Clement Harris rests diagonally opposite this entrance in the bottom left hand corner - the corner furthest away as you walk in (and a 'thank you' to my wife , Lynne, for finding his grave for me - I was in a different part of the burial ground).

The inscription on his headstone reads :-

                         LOVING MEMORY OF
                      CLEMENT ROBERT HARRIS
        WHO DIED 4th JULY 1951. AGED 53 YEARS.
                   ALSO OF HIS BELOVED WIFE
                           KATHLEEN HELENA
      WHO DIED 5th FEBRUARY 1962. AGED 61 YEARS.

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