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796 November 2020 36 Navy News
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VC winner will
inspire cadets

A NEW state-of-the-art
gymnasium, named after a World
War 1 hero, has been formally
opened at Britannia Royal Naval
College by England’s World Cup
winning captain Martin Johnson.

The former rugby player
was invited to BRNC to see the
facility, which has been named
after Lieutenant Commander
Arthur Harrison VC.

Arthur Harrison, who was
born in Torquay in 1886, lost his
life during the Zeebrugge Raid
in 1918 and was posthumously
awarded the Victoria Cross, the
highest award for gallantry in the
face of the enemy.

Captain Roger Readwin,
Captain of BRNC, said: “Arthur
Harrison was capped by England
twice, winning the Grand Slam
in 1914, and is believed to be
the only England rugby union
international ever to have
received the VC.

“When we were looking to
name our new gym, Arthur
Harrison was a natural choice
and we hope his story will go on
to inspire our Officer Cadets and

Martin Johnson said: “It is a
real privilege to officially open
BRNC’s new gymnasium. But
to do so, in memory of a former
England and Navy Rugby player,
who made the ultimate sacrifice
so we can enjoy our freedom
today, is very poignant indeed.”

Warrant Officer Mac
McCormick, BRNC’s Physical
Development Officer, said: “This
facility is a real game changer
and will allow us to deliver 21st
Century physical training to
modern Royal Navy standards. ”

Lt Cdr Harrison’s first posting
in the Royal Navy was to HMS
Mars as a cadet in 1902. He
went on to be Mentioned in
Despatches during the Battle
of Jutland in 1916. Almost two
years later he was in charge of
the Naval Storming Parties at
the Zeebrugge Raid; an attempt
by the Royal Navy to block
the Belgian port and stop the
German U-boats taking to sea.

Early in the action Lt
Cdr Harrison was knocked
unconscious when a fragment
of a shell struck his head and
broke his jaw as his ship, HMS
Vindictive, was coming alongside
the stone structure, known as a

Lt Cdr Harrison regained
consciousness and took his place
in command of his party. They
were charged with the important
task of silencing the guns on the
mole head. In a fully exposed
position Lt Cdr Harrison led the
attack and was killed by enemy
machine-gun fire at the age of 32.
His body was never recovered.
The men serving with him were
either killed or wounded.

In 1967 his family donated
his VC, awarded to him for his
‘indomitable resolution and
courage’, to BRNC, where it
remains today.

Harrison, Arthur Leyland
Lieutenant Commander