The Statue Plans

This campaign is all about getting a statue of Jack erected in Hull City Centre, here you can see the plans that have been drawn up by a company with well over a centuries history in Hull.

These plans are not final, you may have your own ideas of how it should look, and where it could be placed, but these are ideas for it.

Please feel free to contact us at if you have an opinion about these plans, or if you have an idea of your own about how the statue could look, or where it could be placed.

Oppy Wood

As the allies advanced on Arras, Jack’s 11th (Tradesmen) Battalion was ordered to attack the German lines on the outskirts of the small French village of Oppy.

Having amassed almost in sight of Vimy Ridge, in the early hours of 3rd May 1917, Jack’s Battalion, and many others in the Hull Pals, were ordered to attack under cover of darkness.

Unfortunately it was a crisp, clear night, with a full moon, and a clear line of fire for the German machine-guns in the wood facing them as they ran across No Man’s Land.

Within a few hours over 2,000 men were slaughtered. Jack and his men had an objective to knock out a particular machine-gun, unfortunately due to the darkness, and smoke from the allied barrage, it wasn’t a clear target.

The gun was cutting Jack’s men down in frightful amounts, and twice they were repulsed from their attack.

Jack then took it upon himself to try and do something about the gun and so, single-handed, he ran across No Man’s Land, with just a pistol and a Mills Grenade for company.

Jack managed to stop the gun from firing, so his remaining men could get to safety, however Jack was never seen again, having been killed during his valiant action.

Because of such bravery, Jack was posthumously awarded the highest honour that can be bestowed on a member of the British Military, the Victoria Cross.

Jack’s wife and son, Lilian and Jackie, went to Buckingham Palace in March 1918 to collect the medal from King George 5th.

Pictures kindly supplied by Patrick J A Neal, author of the book The Heroic Johnsman

War Hero

Jack volunteered to sign up, and was packed off to Inns of Court officer training, where he would become a ‘Temporary Gentleman’ after being commissioned as a Temporary 2nd Lieutenant in the East Yorkshire Regiment.

His service record shows that he arrived in France on 16th September 1916.

On 25th March 1917, Jack lead a patrol into No Man’s Land on the Western Front of the Battle of the Somme. Under heavy fire Jack showed great courage, leading his men all the way to the German trenches, and capturing a German prisoner.

Jack then lead his men, still under heavy artillery fire and bombardment, and ensured they all made it back to their trench, without a single one of his men suffering any injury.

As a result of this action, Jack was awarded the Military Cross for, as the citation says, ‘Outstanding Gallantry’ in the face of almost impossible odds.

But more heroic drama was soon to follow, which ended in astonishing bravery, as well as tragedy.

Jack’s Rugby League Career part two

The following two seasons were nothing less than momentous for Jack, as he and Billy Batten formed a lethal wing/centre partnership capable of cutting even the tightest of defences apart.

In the 1913/14 season the number one goal was finally achieved, as the Airlie Birds took on Wakefield Trinity in the Challenge Cup Final at Thrum Hall, Halifax.

After 70 minutes of battle, with no quarter asked, or given, the match was still scoreless, then in the final ten minutes Hull struck twice, with devastating precision, the second try coming from Jack, to hand Hull a 6-0 victory.

At last the Challenge Cup was coming back to Hull, and once again Jack was a hero to thousands.

A few months later, on 1st September 1914, Jack married his childhood sweetheart Lilian Ellis, and married life obviously suited him very well as he then embarked on a record breaking 1914/15 season.

In that season Jack scored an outstanding 52 tries, it is a club record that still stands now in 2017, he also set a club record of scoring in 11 consecutive games, which was equaled by Richard Horne in 2006, but which has never been bettered yet.

On 29th June 1915, Lilian gave birth to their only child, also named John, but known as Jackie, however at the time Europe was being ravaged by war, and despite being in a reserved occupation as a teacher, Jack decided his place was at the front-line, fighting for King and Country.

 Jackie Harrison birth certificate kindly supplied by Paul Dunham

Jack’s Rugby League Career part one

We know that Jack played for the Hull FC youth team during his younger years, before he went to teacher training, however his senior rugby league career began when he was in York, as he signed in 1911 for York RL (now York City Knights).

Jack played six games for York, scoring four tries, one of the games was a testimonial game, so records may show he only played five games, referring to the competitive games he played in.

In 1912 Jack left York and returned home to Hull, many people expected him to sign for Hull KR, given his East Hull roots, and his father being a fan of the red and whites.

It came as a complete surprise when Jack signed for Hull FC, causing a public spat with the chairman of York RL, which forced Jack to publicly explain how his signing for the Black & Whites had come about.

Jack actually made his debut, at The Boulevard, on 5th September 1912, ironically against York in a 9-3 victory for the Airlie Birds.

In his debut season Jack suffered horrific luck as he twice broke his collar bone, and yet he still finished as the clubs top try-scorer, with an impressive 17 tries in 29 games.

At the time Hull FC, who had become the first team ever to lose three consecutive Challenge Cup Finals a few years earlier, were in the process of building a team capable of winning that most prestigious prize in rugby league.

Jack, and team captain, the Australian Herbert Gilbert, among others were seen as players who could make that dream happen, then in 1913, Hull paid an astonishing £600 for Billy Batten from Hunslet, it was thought he could be the final piece in the jigsaw.

Jack at St. John’s College, York

In 1910, Jack Harrison arrived at St. John’s College, York to start his teacher training and, as well as proving to be a more than able student, he furthered his sporting career in different sports.

He earned his college colours at Cricket, Swimming and Rugby Union. To earn his colours in any sport, he had to be in the team for the full two years he was there.

Jack was the opening batsman for the cricket team, and in his 2nd year at the University he actually captained their first XV rugby side.

During his time as captain, Jack caused a wild celebration at the college, and inadvertently caused many students to be sent home in disgrace, this happened when his team traveled to Bede College for their traditional rugby match, it was York’s version of the Oxford/Cambridge rivalry.

In the game Jack scored the only two tries of the game, handing York victory away to Bede for the first time in 12 years, hearing the news of the famous victory many of the first year students left the campus to go and welcome the team back at the railway station, and chaired Jack back to the college.

Because of this break of the strict discipline, all the first years were suspended by the principal and sent home.

In 1912 Jack graduated with a B Grade, and returned home to Hull having secured a position at the council run Lime Street School.

Jack’s early life

John ‘Jack’ Harrison was born on 12th November 1890 at his family home at 20 Williamson Street, Hull, he was the 4th child of seven born to John and Charlotte Harrison.

His father was a Plater and Boilermaker at Earle’s Shipyard, it was a humble beginning for Jack, but he soon proved himself to be exceptional as he grew up in a very stable environment.

He attended Craven Street School, next door to Hull Kingston Rovers home ground Craven Park, and during his time there, his father would take him to watch Rovers home games.

While at school, Jack proved himself to be a scholar, and a very gifted sportsman, particularly at football and rugby.

In a time when university places were the almost exclusive right of the wealthy, Jack actually followed in his sister Beatrice’s footsteps in qualifying for teacher training at St. John’s College, York (now York St. John University).

Picture of Jack’s birth certificate kindly provided by Paul Dunham

The script of the short play Our Jack

As performed at Kardomah 94 on Sunday 30th April, the cast was:

Jack: Jordan Matfin

Lilian: Katie Stones

Charlotte: Clare Crowther

John: Kenny Richards-Preston

Directed by: Cassie Patton

Written by: Ian Judson

Our Jack.




John: So, where are you going to be teaching?

Jack: Lime Street school.

John: East Hull, that’s a good start my lad, there’s a sport you can play in East Hull as well, you know, near your old school!

Jack: Err, yes I could, but…

John: But what?

Jack: Sorry dad, I haven’t signed for Rovers.

John: What do you mean, you haven’t signed for Rovers!?

Jack: I mean I’ve signed for Hull FC.

John: You’ve done what?

Jack: I’ve signed for…

John: Yes I know what you said, I’m just in shock Hey Charlotte, have you heard about this?


Charlotte: Oh what’s wrong John?

Jack: He’s upset that I’ve signed for FC mum!

Charlotte: Is that all?

John: Is that all? What else does it have to be? He’s betrayed his old dad and signed for the enemy, me own son!

Jack: Oh for goodness sake dad, have you seen what’s going on there? Three Challenge Cup finals on the trot!

John: Yeah, and they lost all of them, but that’s besides the point.

Jack: Why?

John: Because I’m your dad, and I support Rovers!

Jack: Yes, and?

John: How do you think my mates are going to react, when they find out that my son, my own flesh and blood, has signed for bloody codheads united!?

Jack: Codheads… Oh please dad, do you know how ridiculous that sounds!?

John: Do you know what your life is going to be like on derby match day?

Jack: Yes I do, I’ll be trying to win a game, but wearing a black and white shirt, instead of a red and white shirt, what difference does that make?

John: You’ll be playing for the wrong side, that’s what difference it makes, you were born in East Hull…

Jack: Yes and I went to school where Rovers ground is, I know all the cloak and dagger stuff dad, so spare me that please!

John: How did they ever talk you into it?

Jack: They showed me what they are about. Three Challenge Cup finals, the very game that I’ve dreamed of scoring in! They could give me that chance.

Charlotte: They gave him £100 to sign- they really want him. You can’t argue with that John, he’s 21 now, you’ve got to let him do what he thinks is best for him.

Jack: It’s not a conspiracy against you, or against Rovers dad, it just feels like the right thing for me! Right, I’m off to see my Lillian. Bye Mum


Charlotte: Give her my love!

Jack: Will do Mum.

John: Ever since he turned out for York, I always looked forward to this day, when our son would return home, and tell me he had signed for Rovers. My team! The team I’ve supported through thick and thin. And now look…

Charlotte: Do you know what I think?

John: No, what?

Charlotte: I think our son just showed us why he’s a man now!

John: Eh! A man? He’s a lad, fresh out of short pants, what does he know about real life?

Charlotte: He’s not fresh out of short pants, he’s a grown man, and just imagine how brave he had to be to stand in front of you! To tell you he’s signed for FC! I know it’s taken him a lot of courage to tell you that.

John: I suppose you’ve got a point, but he better not think I’ll be cheering for his team come derby match day, oh no, not on your nelly!

Charlotte: Something tells me he’ll be able to handle that, and you’ll be proud of him!

John: I won’t be proud of him playing for them.

Charlotte: No I know you won’t, and that’s alright, but don’t hate him for it either.

John: What do you take me for? Hate me own son, never in a million years.


















Scene Two


John: You did it then son, you scored a try in the Challenge Cup Final.

Jack: Yes, and we won, I can’t believe it.

John: I never thought I’d say this about you in a black and white shirt but I’m proud of you son, I just wish you were in a red and white shirt instead.

Jack: Not today dad.

John: So what’s next for you?

Jack: I don’t know, keep teaching, maybe try and set a try scoring record, but I think settling down is becoming a priority for me as well now.

John: Settle down! When there’s a war coming, are you sure?

Jack: I love Lillian, war or no war, I can’t help that, and now I’m in a position where I can support a wife and family.

John: Well if that’s the way it is, you better get on with it hadn’t you?

Jack: September the 1st.

John: What about it?


Now Charlotte and Lillian walk on stage together.


Lillian: Your lucky scarf, lucky scarf, lucky scarf…

John: Err, what about September the 1st?

Charlotte: That’s the date of the wedding, it’s all booked.

Lillian: We don’t want to wait any longer, not with war imminent Mr Harrison.

John: You haven’t joined up yet have you, you’re in an essential profession!

Jack: No I haven’t joined yet, but I’ll have to at some point, I suppose it depends how long the war is going on for.

John: Oh, right, I see.

Jack: Look you don’t need to worry for now dad, I’m not just going to pop along to the recruitment office and join up tomorrow, I’ve got other priorities first

Lillian: I’ll keep him here as long as is possible Mr Harrison, I promise.


Charlotte: Aww, that’s so lovely, to see you two so happy together.

John: Well I suppose you better get my best suit ready for September then, congratulations both of you, err will that Billy Batten be there?

Charlotte: Steady on John, they’ve only just set the date, he’s been a bit busy you know!








Scene Three


Charlotte: What a day, I don’t remember our wedding day seeming as long as this one.

John: It didn’t, we were the centre of attention, just like Jack and Lillian today, when you’re caught up in it like that it doesn’t seem to last long.

Charlotte: I suppose you’re right.


John: What are you two doing here now? It’s your wedding night you know!

Jack: Yes, trust me dad, we’re not going to forget that.

Lillian: We just wanted to say thank you for such a perfect day.

Charlotte: That’s so thoughtful, haven’t you got better things to do, now go on, shoo.

John: What a pair, you know Charlotte, she wasn’t the only beautiful bride there.

Charlotte: Oh, go on!



















Scene Four


John: Why do you have to do this now?

Charlotte: Why do you have to do it at all? You don’t need to, you’re a teacher!

Lillian: We always knew it had to happen sooner or later.

Jack: I said right from the off, if the war went on for long, I would have to join up!

John: But you’ve got a family to think of!

Jack: We knew that when the war started.

John: Is there nothing I can say that’ll change your mind?

Jack: No, it’s something I have to do, it’s something I want to do, and it’s absolutely the right thing for me to do, nothing can change that.

Lillian: I’m upset, and worried, but what’s to say he won’t come home at the end of it all anyway?

John: Well, I can’t argue with you there, where did you say you’re going to be training?

Jack: Inns of Court officer training.

John: So you’re going to be an officer?

Jack: Hopefully, yes.

John: Oh well, maybe you’ll be able to stick to ordering troops around then.

Jack: Maybe yes, but we’ll have to see what the situation is like.

Charlotte: Well I don’t like it, but I’m going to support you all the way, and so will your dad, and your brother and your sisters too.

Jack: Thanks mum, I appreciate that, more than you probably realise.

Lillian: And please just come home safe to us!

Jack: I’ll do my best, I promise


Scene Five


Charlotte: Look John, Lillian’s got a letter from Jack today.

John: Excellent! What’s he said?

Lillian: He hates it where he is, but he’s making the best of it.

John: That sounds like my lad, I still remember the day he told me that he’d signed for FC, you could have knocked me over with a feather, I swear.

Charlotte: I got the impression you wanted to knock Jack over.

Lillian: Do you think he will just go straight back to Hull FC when he comes home?

John: I hope not, him playing for them, it’s not natural.

Charlotte: Well if he doesn’t, he’s made his mark!

John: Yeah, 52 tries in a single season, I wouldn’t have believed it if I hadn’t seen it with my own eyes.

Lillian: I just hope he has the chance to decide which team to play for.

John: Hey, don’t worry Lillian, if there’s anybody I know who can get through that whole mess out there, it’s Jack!

Charlotte: Yes, he certainly can, he’s not soft.

Lillian: I just can’t help worrying, but I suppose you’re right.

John: I would be more worried if you weren’t feeling like that.

Lillian: Of course I care, he’s my husband, and Jackie’s father, he has to come home to us!

John: I know, and it’s love, and strength like that, which will bring him home to us all, at least I hope so anyway.


Scene Six


Jack: My Darling Lillian, I can’t really begin to describe how horrible it is here, the stench of death is absolutely everywhere. We’re doing our best to just get on with what life is like on the frontline, but it’s not easy. The problem is there’s loads of bodies in No Man’s Land, and we can’t go out and get them to give them a decent burial, because we’d get shot ourselves. So they’re just left out there, some of them sink into the mud, others get blown to bits by the bombing.

Lillian: I really hate it here, and I want to come home to you and Jackie, but I can’t just ask for leave, and I wouldn’t want to desert the lads either. I’m responsible for them. It’s a messy job but somebody’s got to do it I suppose. I’ve just been given an order which looks pretty scary, but I have to do it. Give Jackie a big hug and kiss from his dad, stay safe my sweetheart, I’ll be home as soon as possible.

Jack and Lillian together All my love, Jack.


John: Can I look at the letter, please?

Lillian: No! I want to keep hold of it, it’s addressed to me, from my Jack.

John: But I’m his dad…

Lillian: And I’m his wife, please understand, I just want to keep hold of it. Hearing what he’s said is one thing, reading it is quite something else.

John: Please, just let me read it, it’s important to me.


Lillian: I did try to warn you.

John: What? Oh, yeah, I know, err, I don’t like the thing about the bodies, that’s plain horrible.

Lillian: Please let’s not talk about it.

John: I don’t know how we can’t talk about it, it’s horrible I know, but I want to feel like I’m there with him, do you get that?

Lillian: Every day, but do you really think that he would want us to worry like this?

John: No I suppose not, but it doesn’t feel right trying to ignore it either.


Lillian: Look, I don’t want to talk about it, please don’t be angry with me, it’s just how I feel right now and I can’t help that.








Scene Seven


Lillian: He’s been awarded a medal

John and Charlotte: (Together) A medal?

Lillian: That special mission he got, he lead a patrol in No Man’s Land, under heavy fire, he even caught a German prisoner!

John: What a man, we breed them tough in ‘ull.

Charlotte: What medal has he been awarded?

Lillian: Err, the Military Cross, for conspicuous gallantry, I’m so proud of him, he is amazing.

John: Of course he is, he’s my son.

Charlotte: Our son, and Lillian’s husband

Lillian: And Jackie’s father.

John: You watch both of you, he’ll be home, flying down that wing before you know it, and I’ll be supporting him, whatever colours he’s wearing!


Scene Eight

Knock at the door, twice.


(Off Stage) Lillian Harrison?


John: Hello Lillian, we thought we’d visit and see our little man, how’s you?

Charlotte: I’ve brought a jar of jam for little Jackie, I made it especially…


John: I regret to inform you that your husband, J. Harrison, killed in action, in the early morning of the 3rd instant, death was instantaneous, and without any suffering. His battalion was involved in an attack on German machine gun positions, in the dark, at Oppy Wood, Arras in Northern France, single handed across No Man’s Land to prevent the gun from firing so his men could get to safety, his gallantry was absolutely inspiring to all his men, because of where he fell it was impossible to retrieve his remains. I, and the C.O. and all the company deeply sympathise with you in your loss. Your husband always did his duty, and now has given his life for his country. We all honour him, and I trust you will feel some consolation in remembering this.


Now Lillian will run off stage screaming ‘NO, NO, NO!


Lights will go down and then a spotlight will shine on Jack a few seconds later.


Jack: I have no grave, they never found my body, it was impossible for them really, because I actually reached the German lines before they got me. (Now Lillian and John will come back on stage and stand beside Jack) Lillian, Jackie and my father, went to Buckingham Palace in March 1918, and collected the Victoria Cross that I was posthumously awarded by King George the 5th. I have no grave, but you can see my name on the Arras Memorial in northern France, not far from where I fell, in the East Yorkshire Regiments chapel at Beverley Minster, in St. Charles Borromeo Church in Jarratt Street, and now I’m going to be remembered with a commemoration stone in Sutton, now do me a favour tonight please, when you go home, think of us and remember, for your tomorrow, we gave our today.


Now the cast will come together, all saying, ‘They shall grow not old, as we that are left grow old, age shall not weary them, nor the years condemn, at the going down of the sun, and in the morning, we will remember them.’


The last post will be sounded.


The End