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Harry Reed was born in Melbourne, was single and a Ploughman living in Ballarat when he enlisted in the 29th Battalion, 14th Reinforcement on 16 August 1917 at the age of 19. His unit embarked from Melbourne, Victoria, on board HMAT A38 Ulysses on 22 December 1917. On 25 July 1918 he suffered severe gas poisoning, resulting in being invalided to England. He recovered and was apparently feeling better when he was awarded eight days' pay for intoxication. He transferred to the 5th Battalion in November 1918 and remained with them until he returned to Australia aboard the Plassy on 17 March 1919.
He was awarded the Military Medal for 'In the sector opposite MORLANCOURT on night of 18th/19th July. The enemy after a heavy bombardment of the whole sector made a determined attempt to rush and retake a portion of the trench system captured by us a short time previously. Attacking simultaneously on both flanks of the trench and at the same time bombing down the sap the enemy wounded all of the garrison of the post but Private REED and another man. These two men gallantly fought the Bosche off and sustained an unequal contest until assistance arrived. Private REED displayed conspicuous bravery and devotion to duty and the splendid work of this man and his comrade prevented the enemy from gaining in our trench or obtaining an identification.'
Tree No. 3023