Captain John Alexander Harper

Biography of Captain John Alexander Harper

John Alexander Harper, born on the 24th April 1888, was the second son of Alexander R Harper, Justice of the Peace, and Mrs Harper. The family lived at 8 Brighton Terrace, Ibrox, Glasgow, Lanarkshire. Educated at Hillhead High School and the University of Glasgow, he had a brilliant career, winning many prizes and bursaries. He had talent in many areas and took as high a place on the rugby and athletic fields as in academic circles. His was said to be 'singularly bright and sunny in his nature, and radiated happiness wherever he went'. In 1911 he graduated MB ChB, and for a short time acted as house physician in the Western Infirmary. After a visit to India and America he settled down to private practice in Govan, where he held several public appointments.

In December 1915, he went to France as Medical Officer to the 7th Bn. Yorkshire Regiment, which was at that time holding part of the Ypres salient. There his service soon gained him the Military Cross (MC). The official record states that it was granted for "conspicuous gallantry when leading stretcher-bearers during operations. On one occasion when three of his bearers were wounded, he went alone under heavy fire to the aid post." A brother officer describing another of his gallant deeds says,

"John Harper went out time after time in the teeth of a whirlwind of machine gun fire right up to the German trenches and carried the wounded on his broad back."

These incidents, and many more could be cited, are typical of the man. The Adjutant wrote;

"It was his greatest pride that he never once left one of our wounded in the trenches or in No Man's Land when the battalion was relieved, and as 80% of this battalion's casualties occurred there, this is a wonderful record."

Captain John Alexander Harper died on the 14th February 1917 in France. Following his death, Colonel Harold Barron of the 17th Division wrote;

"He had earned the respect and admiration of us all through his continued gallantry and devotion to duty and his modesty of bearing. We have lost one that we are proud to have called a friend."

Summary

Captain John Alexander Harper
Rank: Captain
Regiment: Royal Army Medical Corps attd. 7th Bn. Yorkshire Regiment
Degree: MB ChB
Awards: Military Cross
Comments: Killed in action, 14 February 1917.
Note/Press Clipping: Ch 4/4/2/3/1058
Photo ID: N/A

Sources

University of Glasgow Faculty, General Council and Registry records.

Obituary: Hillhead High School War MemorObituaryial Volume (War Memorial Committee, 1921)

Burial Place: Commonwealth War Graves Commission - Search For War Dead

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