One more of the dwindling band of First World War surviving officers died last year (1971), John Harvie, at the age of 78.

He joined the 3rd Hussars in France at the end of 1915, with a regular commission from Special Reserve, and was posted to ‘C’ Squadron, with which he remained throughout his service.

He was in the trenches at Vermelles with The 4th Cavalry Bde. Bn. in January-February, 1916, and again at Lempire in the summer of 1917, and on several other occasions when the Regiment supplied working parties in the front line. He was wounded in the famous attack by the 2nd Cavalry Division and the Canadians on April 1st, 1918, at Rife Wood, a few miles south-east of Amiens following the German break-through in front of St. Quentin on Gen. Sir Hubert Gough’s Fifth Army.

The seizure of this vital position overlooking the valley of the Luce and the all-important main railway line from Pariss to the channel ports was rewarded by a special message of thanks from the C-in-C., Field-Marshal Sir Douglas Haig. The Germans were stopped dead in their tracks. and they made no further advance by the time the great battle was called off by Gen. Ludendorff, the enemy commander.

Harvie went home wounded but rejoined the Regiment in the summer and went with it to Duren when it was stationed there in 1919 as part of the British Army of the Rhine. He resigned his commission in the autumn of that year and married the sister of a brother officer, Mary Stubbs, who predeceased him. He married secondly the daughter of Sir Harry Brittain. He spent the rest of his active life on the Stock Exchange until his retirement some years ago.

John Harvie was loved by everyone in all ranks of his regiment, being a most efficient soldier in his typically quiet and modest way. He had a delightful and wholly spontaneous wit, and I can recall an uproarious occasion at Duren when he acted as umpire in an inter-squadron cricket match mounted throughout on a very Germanic cow, which, like all our unwilling ex-enemy holts, was convinced that the English were stark, staring mad.

John was a perfect example of a regimental cavalry officer who refused to take himself (or anyone else) too seriously but never failed to know his duty and to do it without thought of reward. Hail and farewell to his inimitable spirit.

Related topics

  1. A Short History of The 3rd Hussars