Mary Edith Harris was born in the autumn of 1895 and was the oldest of five children to Walter and Ellen Harris. Walter was a linesman for the railway, and was based in Taunton, Somerset, which is where the young family were initially raised.
By the time of the 1911 census, Walter and Ellen had moved the family to Weston-super-Mare, and were living to the south of the town centre. Walter’s mother – who had been widowed a number of years by this point – was also living with them.
Mary had left school and found work as a clerk in a local steam laundry. Her younger sister, Sarah, was also employed at the laundry, but as a golfering machinist.
War was beckoning, and Mary obviously wanted to play her part. Her work in the laundry stood her in good stead, and she found herself enlisted in the Women’s Army Auxiliary Corps – later Queen Mary’s Army Auxiliary Corps – as a clerk.
There is little recorded information on Mary’s career, so it is not possible to identify exactly what work she undertook. However, she was awarded the Victory and British medals for her service.
Details of Mary’s death are also scarce: she passed away in Weston-super-Mare on 7th November 1918, at the age of just 23 years old. There is nothing in the contemporary media to suggest anything unusual about her death, so it is likely to have been as a result of one of the lung conditions that ravaged Europe in the wake of the conflict.
Mary Edith Harris was laid to rest in the Milton Road Cemetery in her home town, Weston-super-Mare.