Friends of the Somme - Mid Ulster Branch  
31267   Private Alexander Duff Harkness
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Dated added: 30/12/2015   Last updated: 04/06/2017
Personal Details
Regiment/Service: 2nd Battalion, Wellington Regiment (New Zealand Army)
Date Of Birth: 09/11/1888
Died: 16/08/1918 (Died of Wounds)
Age: 29
Alexander Harkness was the son of Adam and Margaret Harkness of Drumconvis, Coagh. He emigrated to New Zealand in 1914. He enlisted with the Wellington Regiment in 1916. After training he arrived back in England in January of 1917. Alexander Harkness died of wounds received in action on 16th August 1918 while serving with 2nd Battalion Wellington Regiment.
Private Alexander Duff Harkness
Further Information
Alexander was the son of Abraham and Mary Margaret Harkness. Abraham Harkness married Mary McCartney on 5th January 1882 in the district of Cookstown.
Alexander Duff Harkness was born in Coagh on 9th November 1888. He was one of at least eight children.
Family: Abraham Harkness, Mary Margaret Harkness, John Harkness (born 10th February 1883), Matilda Tillie Harkness (born 26th December 1884), Robert A Harkness (born 18th January 1887), Alexander Duff Harkness (born 9th November 1888), Margaret Harkness (born 9th March 1891), Eliza Harkness (born 6th August 1893), Abraham Harkness (born 3rd August 1896, died 5th June 1903, age 6), Samuel Harkness (born 5th January 1899).
The 1901 census lists Alexander as age 11, living with the family at house 4 in Drumconway, Coagh, County Tyrone. Alexander was still at school. They were a farming family.
Alexander’s younger brother, Abraham Harkness, died on 5th June 1903, aged just 6.
Alexander’s father died on 17th April 1908 in Coagh, aged 66.
The 1911 census does not list Alexander as living with the family at house 4 in Drumconway, Coagh, Tyrone. In fact, he is not listed anywhere on the 1911 census.
It seems he emigrated to New Zealand in 1914. Alexander D Harkness arrived in Bluff from London, England on 11th August 1914. He was 26 years old and a farmer.
Alexander Harkness enlisted at Trentham Military Camp on 25th July 1916. He gave his next of kin as his mother Margaret, who was living in Coagh. He also lists an Andrew McCartney, from Levin in Wellington, who was his uncle.
Alexander stated that he was working as a Wellington fire brigade man. He gave last known address as the Thorddon Fire Station in Wellington. In fact, his last employer was a Dr Hassell, and he was working as a mental hospital attendant at the Mental Hospital in Porirua.
After training in New Zealand, his unit arrived at Devenport in England on 29th January 1917.
In May he was allowed home on leave and visited his old home in Drumconvis.
Private Harkness was again given leave in August 1917.
After more training, his unit left for France on 5th September 1917.
Private Harkness joined his battalion in the field on 20th September 1917.
In July 1918 he was admitted to hospital due to illness. He was back with his battalion a week later.
Private Alexander Harkness was severely wounded on 15th August 1918 in France. He had received shrapnel wounds to the leg, head and left arm.
Private Alexander Harkness was serving with the 2nd Battalion of the Wellington Regiment when he died of his wounds at Casualty Clearing Station No. 56 the following day on 16th August 1918
In a letter to his mother, one of his friends said.
“Your boy was a Company stretcher bearer and while going forward with three others a shell landed very close. One chap was killed, and the others, including your son, received nasty wounds. Company stretcher bearers do splendid work here. They are right up at the front with their companies and carry from the front line to the Regimental Aid post.”
Mrs. Harkness also received letters of sympathy from Mr. Milner, Secretary of State for war, Mr. J. Allen, Minister of Defence, Wellington, New Zealand, and the Governor of New Zealand.
Private Alexander Duff Harkness is buried in Bagneux British Cemetery, Gezaincourt, France.
The CWGC record Private A D Harkness as the son of Abraham and Margaret Harkness, of Drumconvis, Coagh, County Tyrone.
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Relevant Cookstown Area Locations
No Location Region Location Notes Longtitude Latitude
1 Drumconway Coagh Census listing in Drumconway 54.638970 -6.588334
References and Links
No Link Reference Map Doc
1 1901 Census lists Harkness family 1901 census lists Alexander as age 11 at house 4 in Drumconway, Coagh, Tyrone
2 1911 Census lists Harkness family 1911 census does not list Alexander at house 4 in Drumconway, Coagh, Tyrone
3 Archives New Zealand Military documents (24 no) of Private Alexander Duff Harkness
4 Dolores Cross Project No picture of Private Alexander Duff Harkness's grave
5 New Zealand War Records Online Cenotaph record for Alexander Duff Harkness
6 NOK Address in Ireland Mrs Margaret Harkness, Mother, Drumconvis, Coagh, Tyrone, Ireland
7 NZ Passenger Lists Possible listing of Alexander D Harkness
8 NZ War Graves Project Details of Private Alexander Duff Harkness including grave photo
9 War Graves Photographic Project Photo of Private Alexander Duff Harkness's grave can be purchased here
Cookstown District's War Dead Acknowledgements 2010-2018