Albert Victor Harding
Gunner Albert Victor Harding, 1 Divisional Ammunition Column, 7th Reinforcements, Australian Imperial Force, enlisted at Brisbane, three years after leaving Wheatley for Australia. He embarked on 10 August 1915 from Melbourne on ship RMS Persia bound for England. He was posted to 11th Trench Mortar Battery, Australian Field Artillery, stating his next of kin as Mrs J. Harding, Bell Lane, Wheatley - his mother. Albert was killed by artillery fire during the days leading up to the start of the Somme offensive.
4752 Corporal Harding ‘was killed in action on the afternoon of 25 June [the Commonwealth War Graves Commission say 27 June]. I cannot speak too highly of his manly and soldierly qualities ... the best man in my battery. He died gloriously in action under heavy fire and his name has been forwarded for very gallant behaviour. The officer in charge of the gun on which he was working . when cease-fire had been given, walked over and was shaking hands with him and congratulating him on his behaviour when an enemy shell, bursting a few feet away, struck Corporal Harding and he fell forward into the officer's arms, dead. He was killed instantaneously . a gallant man and a good comrade.' (Oxford Times, 15 July 1916).
He was buried in Rue-Petillon Military Cemetery, Fleurbaix, Bethune, France (ref. I. J. 4). He is also remembered on Panel 20 in the Commemorative Area at the Australian War Memorial, Treloar Crescent in Campbell, Australian Capital Territory.
Albert was baptised in Wheatley on 20 June 1887: next to his Register entry is noted ‘Jubilee of the Queen's accession'. He was the youngest son of John Harding, farm labourer, born in Great Milton, Oxon., and Jane/Jenny nee Davis, both born in Wheatley in 1847. He was brother to Thomas Harding. In 1891 the family were living on High Street and in 1901 on Bell Lane. At 14, Albert was a farm labourer and in 1911 his father, John, was living alone on Bell Lane. Albert was lodging at 21 Clairville Gardens, Hanwell, Middlesex, employed as a carter. On 30 August 1912 he boarded the Orient Lines ship Orvieto from London, bound for Sydney, Australia. The passenger list gave his age as 23 and his occupation as labourer. None of his family emigrated with him. See also references to him in the Wheatley in a World at War chapter.