Tim Harding and I first met late in 1942 when, after a brief sojourn in RHQ, I was sent back to proper soldiering as a troop leader in ‘A’ Squadron.

We were in Iraq, living in dugouts with tented roofs, and training hard for whatever was to come next. There were no entertainments other than those we made for ourselves, and in Squadron messes, troop leaders got to know one another well; and Tim and I became friends for life.

The Regiment went to Italy in 1944, after more training in Syria and Egypt, perhaps as well trained as it had ever been; and if there was a better troop than Tim’s I never saw it.

He was personally brave; he had the eye for the country that is indispensable; and he had the gift of getting the best out of his men who, if they didn’t always understand him, would follow him anywhere.

He did particularly well in the operations in close support of the infantry in Italy; he never hesitated to get out of his in the 2nd Polish Corps’ advance up the calf tank for a recce and on one such operation actually captured a German officer who did not know, as Tim did, that the revolver he was waving was unloaded.

The MC that came through towards the end of 1944 was richly deserved and delighted us all; needless to say it in no way diminished his performance, which shone brightly to the end of the War.

He was the best man at my wedding in May 1946; my wife’s WAAF friends thought he was gorgeous.

He returned to civilian life without a backward glance, but until very recently never failed to come to Regimental Dinners or to parade with his friends on the first Sunday in May.

The end came quickly; in January last he told me he had cancer, and he died as we marched past the Cavalry Memorial on 8 May 1988. He was loved and tended to the last by his son and daughter, whose lovely mother died long ago; and he will always be missed by those who served with him, and tried in vain to emulate his gallantry,

Related topics

  1. A short history of The 7th Hussars
  2. Timeline: Middle East (Egypt and Libya)
  3. Timeline: Italy 1943-5
  4. Gallantry Award: Citation and Immediate Award for The Military Cross – Lt ECF Harding, 7H