Wednesday, June 29, 2011

Honored Allies Wednesday: Henry E. Harden (United Kingdom)


"In North West Europe on the 23rd January, 1945, the leading section of a Royal Marine Commando Troop was pinned to the ground by intense enemy machine gun fire from well concealed positions.  As it was impossible to engage the enemy from the open owing to lack of cover, the section was
ordered to make for some nearby houses.  This move was accomplished, but one officer and three other rank casualties were left lying in the open.  The whole Troop position was under continuous heavy and accurate shell and mortar fire.  Lance-Corporal Harden, the R.A.M.C. orderly attached to the Troop, at once went forward, a distance of 120 yards, into the open under a hail of enemy machine gun and rifle fire directed from four positions, all within 300 yards, and with the greatest coolness and bravery remained in the open while he attended to the four casualties.  After dressing the wounds of three of them, he carried one of them back to cover.  Lance-Corporal Harden was then ordered not to go forward again and an attempt was made to bring in the other casualties with the aid of tanks, but this proved unsuccessful owing to the heavy and accurate fire of enemy anti-tank guns.  A further attempt was then made to recover the casualties under a smokescreen, but this only increased1 the enemy fire in the vicinity of the casualties.  Lance-Corporal Harden then insisted ongoing forward again, with a volunteer stretcher party, and succeeded in bringing back another badly wounded man.  Lance-Corporal Harden went out a third time, again with a stretcher party, and after starting on the return journey with the wounded officer, under very heavy enemy small arms and mortar fire, he was killed.  Throughout this long period Lance-Corporal Harden displayed superb devotion to duty and personal courage of the very highest order, and there is no doubt that it had a most steadying effect upon the other troops in the area at a most critical time.  His action was directly responsible for saving the lives of the wounded brought in.  His complete contempt for all personal danger, and the magnificent example he set of cool courage and determination to continue with his work, whatever the odds, was an inspiration to his comrades, and will never be forgotten by those who saw it."

From LCpl Harden's Victoria Cross citation, awarded on 6 March 1945.
May you be at peace, 

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