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L/Cpl HE Harden VC (RAMC) - attached to 45 (Royal Marine) Commando

Updated: Jun 3

Henry Eric Harden VC (23 February 1912 – 23 January 1945), 32 years old.

Harden was a lance corporal in the Royal Army Medical Corps attached to 45 (Royal Marine) Commando during the Second World War.

On 23 January 1945 during Operation Blackcock, at Brachterbeek, the Netherlands, three marines of the leading section of the Royal Marine Commando Troop to which Lance-Corporal Harden was attached fell, wounded.

The Commando section had come under heavy machine-gun fire in the open field that morning, and the men were seriously wounded. One of the casualties was Lieutenant Corey. Under intense mortar and machine-gun fire Harden was wounded in his side as he carried one man back to the aid post, which had been set up in one of the houses along the Stationsweg in Brachterbeek.

Against the orders of another Medical officer he then returned with a stretcher party for the other two wounded. Bringing in the second casualty the rescue party came under enemy fire which killed the wounded Commando. While finally bringing back the third man Lieutenant Corey, who had demanded he be recovered last, Harden was shot through the head and killed instantly.

45 Commando. Henry Harden is the sitting man to the right.

Fred Harris 45RM Commando states it was taken at the Staging Camp in Southampton on the 5th June 1944 rather than the 3rd.

Big Jimmy Tew holding the Piat and giving the V for victory salute; L/Cpl. William Boniface (kia); Mne. Tommy Lovett (kia); L/Cpl. Freddie Stallwood (kia); Mne Tommie Kilkie ? ; Mne. Bowen; Mne. John Timmins (kia); Cpl. David Reed (kia), Mne Neil Brown; Mne John Haville; Mne. 'Nipper' Lee (holding bike) (kia); Mne. Bill Barclay; Mne. Robert 'Dinger' Bell (holding rifle up)(kia); Mne Derrick Cakebread; Mne 'Taffy' Whitney; Mne Sid Mundy; unknown; Cpl. Tasker; Mne. 'Ginger' Young (wounded - leg amputation); Mne Fred Cheesemuir; LCpl Eric Harden(sitting)(kia) (awarded VC). (Commando Veterens Org)

Lance Corporal Henry Eric Harden would have become 33 years old on 23 February, exactly one month after his death. He left behind a wife and two young children.

For his exceptional valour and for giving his life to save three marines, he was posthumously awarded the Victoria Cross

On the Henry Harden bridge near the mill there is a plaque to commemorate Lance Corporal Harden. (51.149730, 5.924556)

May 2007. Mayor Frans Wilms of the Municipality of Maasgouw, Malcolm Ratcliffe, Julie Wells and John White. Photo courtesy of Pete Richardson of the Rheindahlen Branch of the Royal British Legion

The original plaque. In 2009, when the bridge was renovated, two black granite plaques were immured on either side of the bridge, one in English, the other in Dutch. Lieutenant Corey and Julie Harden were present at the unveiling.

Lance-Corporal Harden's final resting place is in the Commonwealth War Graves Commission cemetery at Nederweert, Limburg, the Netherlands.

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