Friends of the Somme - Mid Ulster Branch  
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   Lieutenant Edgar Henry Harper
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Dated added: 30/12/2015   Last updated: 15/08/2018
Personal Details
Regiment/Service: 8th Battalion, South Staffordshire Regiment (British Army)
Date Of Birth: 04/07/1880
Died: 10/07/1916 (Killed in Action)
Age: 34
Summary      
Lieutenant E.H. Harper was the eldest son of Mr. Henry M. Harper, Northland Place, Dungannon, whose youngest son, Lieutenant Ernest M. Harper, Royal Munster Fusiliers, was killed at the Dardanelles on 9th August last. Lieutenant E.H. Harper was educated at Dungannon Royal School, Queen’s University, Belfast, and Trinity College, Dublin. He held an appointment as Lecturer in Bangor University, Wales, and prior to the war was Professor in Mathematics in Cork University, which position he relinquished to volunteer in the service of his country. He obtained a commission in the Royal Munster Fusiliers in May, 1915, and was transferred to the South Staffordshire Regiment, where he received promotion. He was an enthusiastic Rugby football player.
Lieutenant Edgar Henry Harper
Further Information
Lieutenant E H Harper was the eldest son of Henry M and Annie Harper of Northland Place, Dungannon. He was born in Dungannon on 4 July 1880. His mother was Annie Forbes.
Family: Henry M Harper, Jane Harper, Edgar Henry Harper (born about 1882), Margaret F Harper (born about 1884), Helena E Harper (born about 1885), Victor M Harper (born about 1887), Emily M Harper (born about 1889), Ernest M Harper (born about 1891), Alexander M Harper 9 (born about 1892), Annie S Harper 7 (born about 1894).
Edgar Harper was educated at the Royal School, Dungannon from 1892 to 1899, and would be followed to the “Old Grey Mother” by his younger brothers Victor and Ernest. A talented rugby player, Edgar featured on the first XV, but it was his academic ability that would bring him most success.
The 1901 census records Edgar as already left home. His father's occupation is recorded as 'Solicitors Managing Clerk and House Agent'
Edgar continued his studies at Queens University and then at Trinity College Dublin. He obtained his B.A. (1st class) in Mathematical Science in 1904, finishing top of his class, before collecting his Masters in Maths the following year. He briefly returned to the corridors of his old school in Dungannon to teach Maths, before taking up a position in the University of North Wales in Bangor.
Edgar held an appointment as Lecturer in Bangor University, Wales. Whilst working in Wales, Edgar took particular interest in the mathematics of flight. In 1910, in conjunction with a colleague, he published his book, Aerial Locomotion. He also contributed greatly to one of the seminal books on the theory of aviation; G.H. Bryan's Stability in Aviation.
Aerial Locomotion by Edgat Henry Harper
In 1913 he became a Professor of Mathematical Physics in Cork University. Éamon de Valera had also applied for the post of professor of mathematical physics. There was intense canvassing on behalf of de Valera but he was pipped at the post by Edgar H Harper.
After all the applications were assessed the Governing Body took a straw vote to decide who they would recommend to the National University of Ireland (NUI) Senate for the position. In this vote de Valera secured 11 votes, two higher than the nearest competitor, E H Harper. However, in the actual vote they both scored 10 and the two names were sent along with the results of the final vote. Harper was elected to the chair, and de Valera managed to secure a post teaching mathematical physics in the recognised College of the NUI in Maynooth, Co. Kildare.
With the outbreak of war, Edgar relinquished his post in Cork to volunteer in the service of his country.
In May 1915 he obtained a commission with the 7th Royal Munster Fusiliers.
From the Mid Ulster Mail dated 8th May 1915:
Mr Edgar Harper, eldest son of Mr Henry R Harper, has received and accepted a commission in the 7th Royal Munster Fusiliers.
He later transferred to the 8th Battalion South Staffordshire Regiment, with whom he was promoted to Lieutenant.
Edgar's battalion took part in the Somme Offensive in early July 1916, fighting in what became known as the Battle of Albert.
Lieutenant Edgar Henry Harper was serving with the 8th Battalion of the South Staffordshire Regiment. when he was killed in action on 10th July 1916, aged 36.
From the Tyrone Courier dated 20 July 1916: A Double Bereavement
On Tuesday, Mr Henry M Harper, Northland Place, Dungannon, received the sad intelligence that his eldest son, Lieutenant Edgar H Harper, South Staffordshire Regiment, was killed in action on 10th July. The news was particularly distressing in as much as Mr Harper has now sustained a double bereavement – his youngest son, Lieutenant Ernest M Harper, of the Munster Fusiliers, having been killed in action in the Dardanelles on 9th August 1915. The present deceased officer was an old Dungannon Royal School boy, and afterwards had a most distinguished scholastic career in Queens University, Belfast and Trinity College, Dublin. He held an appointment at Bangor University, Wales and prior to the war was professor in mathematics in Cork University, which position he relinquished to volunteer in the service of his country. He obtained a commission in the 7th Munster Fusiliers in May 1915 and was transferred to the South Staffordshire Regiment, where he received promotion. Like his brothers, he was a popular figure on the rugby football field and played for Queens University and Dungannon clubs. Another brother, Victor M Harper, is a teacher at Campbell College, Belfast.
From the Mid Ulster Mail dated Saturday 22 July 1916: Lieutenant E H Harper
Intense sorrow was expressed in Dungannon on Tuesday at the announcement from the War Office of the death of Lieutenant Edgar H. Harper, South Staffordshire Regiment, who was killed in action on 10th July. He was the eldest son of Mr Henry M Harper, Northland Place, Dungannon, an old and highly respected resident of the town, who has sustained a double bereavement, his youngest son, Lieutenant Ernest M. Harper, 7th Royal Munster Fusiliers, having been killed in action at the Dardanelles on 9th August last. The present deceased officer was an old Dungannon Royal School boy, and afterwards had a most distinguished scholastic career in Queen's University, Belfast, and Trinity College, Dublin. He held an appointment as Lecturer in Bangor University, Wales, and prior to the war was Professor in Mathematics in Cork University, which position he relinquished to volunteer in the service of his country. He obtained a commission in the 7th Munster Fusiliers and was transferred to the South Staffordshire Regiment, where he received promotion. He was an enthusiastic Rugby football player, and gave his services willingly to Queens University Club. Another brother, Victor M Harper, is a teacher in Campbell College Belfast.
From the Irish Times dated 22nd July 1916:
Particulars have now been received by Mr Henry M Harper, Northland Place, Dungannon, regarding the death of his eldest son, Lieutenant Edgar H Harper, South Staffords, who was killed in action on 9th July. It appears that he was leading his men in the charge when a machine gun bullet struck him in the side, and he expired immediately.
Lieutenant E H Harper – Much sorrow was expressed in Dungannon on Tuesday at the announcement from the War Office of the death in action of Lieutenant Edgar H. Harper, South Staffordshire Regiment. He was the eldest son of Mr Henry M. Harper, Northland Place, Dungannon, whose youngest son, Lieutenant Ernest M. Harper, Royal Munster Fusiliers, was killed at the Dardanelles on 9th August last. Lieutenant E H Harper was educated at Dungannon Royal School, Queen’s University, Belfast, and Trinity College, Dublin. He held an appointment as Lecturer in Bangor University, Wales, and prior to the war was Professor in Mathematics in Cork University, which position he relinquished to volunteer in the service of his country. He obtained a commission in the Royal Munster Fusiliers in May, 1915, and was transferred to the South Staffordshire Regiment, where he received promotion. He was an enthusiastic Rugby football player.
From the Belfast Newsletter dated 25th July 1916: How Lieutenant Harper died
In an effort to console his grieving father, Edgar's aunt wrote a poem, of which the following is an extract:
Dear brother, how shall I comfort you?
For all words seem vain and weak,
To convey the loving sympathy
Which my heart to you would speak
As I think of your two noble sons
Who in death are lying low,
Cut off in their manhood's early years
By the cruel ruthless foe.
Ernest, your youngest and darling son,
Went forth at his country's call;
He willingly gave up all.
On the sandy slopes of the Dardanelles
He performed a hero's part;
Risking his life to save those of his men;
O, his was a loving heart.
His gallant deeds on the battlefield,
His comrades in arms can tell;
By whom he was dearly loved in life,
And sadly mourned when he fell.
Next Edgar, your dearly-loved first-born,
Went forth to the field of strife;
For King and Country he gave up all
And sacrificed his life.
As he gallantly led forth his men,
To meet the relentless foe;
A German bullet pierced his side
And his life-blood ceased to flow.
Somewhere in the friendly bosom of France
He lies in his last, long sleep;
And as you think of your double loss
In bitter sorrow you weep.
From the Tyrone Courier dated 24 August 1916: In Memorial
Lieutenant Edgar H. Harper is commemorated on the Great War Memorial in the 1937 Reading Room in Trinity College, Dublin.
1937 Reading Room in Trinity College, Dublin
Administration (with the Will) of the Estate of Edgar Henry Harper late of Northland Place Dungannon County Tyrone Lieutenant Staffordshire Regiment who died 10 July 1916 in France granted at Armagh to Henry M. Harper House Agent
Edgat Henry Harper's will
Oddly, the bottom of the note, Edgar says “I bequest all of my property of every description to my Eldest sister Margaret Forbes Harper of Balliol? School, Sedbergh?”
Edgar left behind Effects to the value of £225 3s. 7d.
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Relevant Dungannon Area Locations
No Location Region Location Notes Longtitude Latitude
1 Northland Place Dungannon Central Lived in Northland Place 54.503081 -6.765672
References and Links
No Link Reference Doc
1 1901 census lists Harper family Does not list Edgar Henry as living with the family at house 3 in Northland Place, Dungannon
2 2nd Presbyterian Dungannon Edgar H Harper, killed in action.
3 Book "Aerial locomotion" Book co-written by Edgar Henry Harper. First published in 1910.
4 Book on Cork University De Valera gets pipped by Edgar
5 Brief De Valera biography Mentions E H Harper
6 Lieutenant Ernest Magowan Harper Brother of Edgar Henry Harper
7 War Forum discussion Forum discussion on Edgar H Harper including
Dungannon District's War Dead Acknowledgements 2015-2018