Lt-Col Edward Frank Harrison C.M.G.

Edward Frank Harrison was born 18th July 1869 in Camberwell, London. At age 14 he began an apprenticeship with a pharmacist and in 1890 Edward Frank Harrison received a scholarship to study pharmaceuticals.

After the declaration of war in 1914 he attempted many times to join the military with no success (due to his age being 45), however, in May 1915 he succeeded and joined the 23rd battalion. After a large scale chemical attack (using chlorine gas) by the Germans on 22nd April 1915 during the Second Battle of Ypres, the Chemist’s Corps of the Royal Engineers was formed. In July 1915 Edward Frank Harrison was transferred to the Chemists Corps of the Royal Engineers to work in the anti-gas department. The anti-gas department was handed the task of designing protection for the troops as they had no highly effective form of respiratory protection. Although the simple fabric hoods being used provided some form of protection it was not enough to combat new chemical agents being used. In July 1915 Edward Frank Harrison and a small team began developing a respirator which incorporated layered protective chemicals in a filter canister. After many attempts to incorporate soda lime permanganate granules which provided protection against many gases Harrison discovered the perfect formula for the filter canister. The “Large Box Respirator” of which 200,000 were issued was developed by the end of 1915. Harrison worked on a more compact version of the “Large Box Respirator” known as the “Small Box Respirator” which was issued in 1916.

In January 1917 Harrison became the head of the Anti-gas department which then became part of the chemical warfare department of the Ministry of Munitions of which Harrison was appointed assistant controller.  In July 1918 Harrison became the deputy controller of the chemical warfare department and in October became the controller of the chemical warfare department.

Lt-Col Edward Frank Harrison Died 4th November 1918 (one week before armistice) from the flu after suffering from pneumonia.

Gas Masks Rule owns a memorial photograph and lock of Harrison’s hair which was originally donated to the Whitehall Theatre of War by Harry Cole of Streatham, London who was a long-time friend of Mr. Harrison and a former member of the Army and Navy Co-operative Society . The Whitehall Theatre of war auctioned off their collection in the mid-1980s.

 

Bibliography

 

Simon Jones, ‘Harrison, Edward Frank (1869–1918)’, Oxford Dictionary of National Biography, Oxford University Press, Oct 2008 [http://www.oxforddnb.com/view/article/98022, accessed 5 Nov 2014]

The Pharmaceutical Journal, Vol. 278, p508; 27 April 2007;

[http://www.pharmaceutical-journal.com/news-and-analysis/news/memorial-to-edward-frank-harrison-designed-by-phyllis-blundell-1921/10003840.article, accessed 5 November 2014]