Charles James (Chum) HARDING

Poppy

HARDING, Charles James

Service Number: SX7796
Enlisted: 4 July 1940, Adelaide, SA
Last Rank: Private
Last Unit: 2nd/48th Infantry Battalion
Born: Hartfordshire, England, 3 March 1910
Home Town: Gilberton, Walkerville, South Australia
Schooling: Pulteney Grammar School, South Australia
Occupation: Mounter with Adelaide Art Engravers
Died: Died of wounds, Egypt, 20 September 1941, aged 31 years
Cemetery: Alexandria (Hadra) War Memorial Cemetery, Egypt
Grave 13 Plot 2 Row F, Hadra War Memorial Cemetery, Alexandria, Egypt
Memorials: Adelaide Pulteney Grammar School WW2 Honour Roll, Adelaide WW2 Wall of Remembrance, Australian War Memorial Roll of Honour
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World War 2 Service

4 Jul 1940: Involvement Private, SN SX7796, 2nd/48th Infantry Battalion
4 Jul 1940: Enlisted Adelaide, SA
4 Jul 1940: Enlisted Australian Military Forces (Army WW2), Private, SN SX7796, 2nd/48th Infantry Battalion
Date unknown: Involvement

‘Fond memories of ‘Chum’, Ever remembered by his loving wife.’

English born on 3rd March 1910; Charles came from the historic town of Hertfordshire renown for its medieval buildings. His parents James George and Eleanor Jessie Harding and sister Winifred emigrated to South Australia where they lived in the Adelaide suburb of Klemzig.
Charles attended Pulteney Grammar School where he acquired his nick-name of ‘Chum’, by which he continued to be known throughout his life. He also proved to be a talented soccer player, joining the Sturt team post school and playing for a number of seasons while also fulfilling the role of secretary manager.
Post school, Chum worked for Adelaide Art Engravers where he was responsible for mounting the designs. In a blow to the close-knit family, just after his 20th birthday Charles’ mother, Eleanor died age 48 and was buried in the North Road Cemetery after a service in the chapel. She continued to be remembered on the anniversary of her death each year by James, Chum and Win.
However, a positive emerged in his life when Chum met his future wife, Emily Audrey Rush, the only child of Mr and Mrs E.S. Rush of the O.G. Hotel at Klemzig, with the two becoming engaged on 3rd June ’33.
With the outbreak of WWII Chum enlisted on the 4th July 1940, just after his 30th birthday being allocated the number SX7796. At a similar time, other opposition soccer players included Scottish born Charles Fraser SX7260, Essex-born Walter Everett SX7261 and Manchester-born James Hinson SX7429 also enlisted with all being allocated to the newly formed 2/48th Battalion. These talented players were later to catch up in quite different circumstances and play a match together in the same team. Their initial days were spent in the cold of the Pavilions, now part of the Royal Adelaide Showgrounds before the new enlistees headed to Woodside for their preliminary training.
During pre-embarkation leave, Charles and Emily married on the 17th of October, at St. Cyprian's Church, North Adelaide. The young couple had a few days together, living on Torrens Street at Gilberton. After Chum’s leave, and having been married for just a month the 2/48th contingent embarked on the Stratheden for the Middle East, on the 7th November 1940, arriving on the 19th December 1940. Their 2/48th Battalion completed a few months training in Cyrenaica.
While there the Infantry organised a soccer game against British teams with Joseph Moffitt of the 2/10th Captaining the team. South Australians from the 2/48th Battalion who played included Charles Fraser (who later died 25th October ’42) and Walter Everett (who survived the war), both of whom played for Port Thistle in the local competition, James Hinson (killed in Action on 31st October ’42) who played locally for Birkala Rovers and Chum, who had played for Sturt. The Advertiser reported in March ’41 that over fifteen games, the South Australian team won 12 and lost three. Inevitably, probably as a result of these games, at the end of February ’41 Charles was hospitalised with a torn medial meniscus in his knee, an injury not uncommon in older athletes and often sustained by a sudden change of direction. This curtailed some of his movement before he was discharged from hospital at the end of April.
He then joined his battalion in Tobruk at the start of April 1941 where the dust, flies, heat, minimal water supplies and constant bombardment were quite a challenge to new enlistees. They were to become the famed Rats of Tobruk.
In his book, Tobruk to Tarakan, John Glenn described conditions in August “Conditions in the salient were particularly bad, and at nights cases of heat exhaustion had to be evacuated from the forward posts. This was the fifth month of the siege, and conditions were telling on the men. To add to this there was a marked increase in enemy fire from mortars, artillery, and machine guns, and our casualties were mounting.” This was when Chum was wounded in action on 11th August ’41, then evacuated to hospital with gunshot wounds to his left thigh and right forearm. The gunshot wound to his thigh was later confirmed to be a compound fracture of his femur resulting in Chum being placed on the seriously ill list. In the primitive, stressful conditions under which medics were working, septicaemia developed, resulting in Chum’s leg amputated on 20th. He initially responded to the surgery but by the 22nd was placed on the dangerously ill list and died the following day.
Chum was buried on the 21st September ’41 at the Alexandria Hadra War Memorial in Egypt Grave 13 Plot 2 Row F. Originally this was a Gravesite for those who had died during the WWI conflict, having been hospitalised or killed on troop carriers sunk by either torpedoes or mines entering the port. However, when Alexandra again became a hospital centre during WWII, the cemetery was extended. Chum now rests with others from the Navy, Airforce and Infantry who died of their injuries, including Captain H. F Wideyer who is the only 2/48th in the immediate area to rest with Charles.
Emily chose the headstone inscription ‘Fond memories of ‘Chum’, Ever remembered by his loving wife.’ In a further blow to Emily, her father, Edgard Stanley Rush died seven years after ‘Chum’ on the 17th September, 1948, having recently retired from the O.G. Hotel at Klemzig.
Back home the initial news that Chum had been injured was published in the Advertiser on the 20th August, 41. Others also wounded included Sgt. Ken C. Batty. SX3131, Adelaide. Pte. Harold J. Turner, SX7374, Eastwood. Pte. Cyril V. Stewart, SX6236. Frewville. Pte. Robert M. Hart. SX6035, Colonel Light Gardens. Pte. Frederick. A. Fulton, SX7302, Kent Town. Pte. Ernest H Pritchard, SX5047. Kent Town. Pte. C. J. Harding, SX7796, Inf.. Gllberton. Pte. Dereck A. Prance, SX11234, Woodside and Pte. Alexander Paterson, SX10528. Mannum. Apart from Chuck, all others injured survived.
Within a week, Chum’s condition was then upgraded to be placed on the seriously ill list, with the inevitable official announcement of his death from wounds made in October. Emily, however had been informed of the distressing report, which was then shared in the Adelaide News. ‘Mrs. Harding. of Klemzig. was notified today that her husband. Pte. Charles Harding, 31, who had previously been reported wounded in action, is now seriously ill. Pte. Harding was employed by News Ltd. before he enlisted. He left with a South Australian infantry unit in November. Pte. Harding was a member of the Sturt soccer team. Born in England, he was educated at Pulteney Grammar School, S.A.’ The paper then updated its report on the 24th ‘Wounded At Tobruk; Dies Advice that her husband, Pte. C. J. ("Chum") Harding had died of wounds was received today by Mrs. Audrey Harding, of the O.G. Hotel, Klemzig. Pte. Harding, who was employed by Adelaide Art Engravers before he enlisted. was wounded at Tobruk on August 3. He was married only a month before he sailed with an infantry battalion on November 17, 1940. Pte. Harding was the only son of Mr. C. J. Harding, of Gilberton, and the late Mrs. Harding. He was prominent in soccer, and played with Sturt for several seasons. Pte. Harding, who was 31, was educated at Pulteney Grammar School.’
A tribute to Charles ‘Chum’ is also on his parents’ headstone in the North Road Cemetery, Nailsworth, and bears the inscription ‘2/48th A.I.F. Loved only son of above, wounded at Tobruk 3rd August, Died at Alexandra 20th September 1941. Aged 31. “Greater love hath no man than this.”
Family and friends continued to remember and grieve the loss of Chum:
Advertiser Thursday 25 September 1941, HARDING. -In memory of Chum. Loved only brother of Win, died of wounds on September 20 1941. Greater love hath no man than this. HARDING – On September 20 died of wounds abroad, Pte C.J. Harding (Chum) dearly loved son of Mr J.G. Harding and the late Mrs Harding of Gilberton and loving brother of Win (Mrs Arbon) of Yorketown. His duty nobly done. HARDING. —On September 20 died of wounds abroad. Pte C.J. (Chum) Harding dearly beloved husband of Audrey (nee Rush), of the O.G. Hotel. Klemzig. One or the best.
Mail Saturday 19 September 1942, HARDING. — A tribute to Chum, died of wounds September 20, 1941. Ever remembered by Don, Tom and Mrs. Price.
Advertiser Monday 20 September 1943, HARDING. —In memory ot Chum, Ioved only son of J. G. Harding, Gilberton and brother of Win. died wounds Tobruk, Sept. 20 1941. HARDING. —In loving memory of Pte C. J. ("Chum"), who died of wounds September 20, 1941. —Ever remembered by Mr and Mrs. C H Wales and "Taffy" Saunders HARDING. - Loving memory of my husband. Pte. C. J. (Chum) Harding, died of wounds at Tobruk, September 20. 1941. Treasured memories live for ever of happy days we spent together. —Remembered by his loving wife. Audrey HARDING. —In loving memory of Pte. C. J. (Chum) Harding, who died of wounds received at Tobruk on September 20, 1941. —Ever remembered by his mother and father-in-law.
Advertiser Wednesday 20 September 1944, HARDING—In memory of our dear friend. Private C J (Chum). 2/48th Battalion who died of wounds received at Tobruk September 20. 1941.—Ever remembered by Mr. and Mrs. C. H. Wales. HARDING. —In memory of "Chum " died of wounds, Tobruk. Sept. 20. 1941. dearly loved son of J G Harding and brother of Win. HARDING. —In loving memory of Pte C. J. (Chum) Harding, who died of wounds received at Tobruk. Sept. 20. 1941—Always remembered by his mother and father-in-law. HARDING. —Cherished memories of my darling husband. Pie. C. J (Chum) Harding, who died of wounds received at Tobruk. Sept. 20, 1941 Deep In my heart a memory is kept of the one I loved and shall never forget. —Ever remembered by his loving wife, Audrey.
Advertiser Thursday 20 September 1945, HARDING. —In memory of Chum, loved only son of J. G. Harding, Gilberton brother of Win; died of wounds. Tobruk. September 20 1941. HARDING—In loving memory of my dear husband. Pte. C. J. (Chum) Harding, who died of wounds received at Tobruk. September 20. 1941.—Ever remembered by his loving wife, Audrey.
Advertiser Friday 20 September 1946, HARDING. —In loving memory of my dear husband, Pte C. J. (Chum) Harding, who died of wounds received at Tobruk, by his loving wife, Audrey.
Advertiser Saturday 20 September 1947, HARDING. —In loving memory of Chum, died of wounds. Tobruk. September 20. 1941.—Dad and Win. HARDING. —In loving memory of my dear husband. Pte. C. J. (Chum.) Harding, died of wounds. September 20. 1941.— Ever remembered by his loving wife. Audrey.
Advertiser Monday 20 September 1948, HARDING. —In loving memory of my dear husband, Pte. C. J. (Chum) Harding, who died of wounds at Tobruk, September 20, 1941. —Ever remembered by his loving wife Audrey. HARDING. —In memory of Chum, loved only son of J. G. Harding, Gilberton, and brother of Win, died of wounds, Tobruk, September 20, 1941.
Advertiser Thursday 20 September 1951, HARDING. — In loving memory of my dear husband 'Chum.' who passed away September 20. 1941. — Ever remembered by his loving wife Audrey.
Advertiser Saturday 20 September 1952, HARDING. — In loving memory of my dear husband. 'Chum.' who passed away September 20. 1941. —Ever remembered by his loving wife. Audrey HARDING. — In loving memory of 'Chum.' died of wounds Tobruk. September 20. 1941 —Dad and Win.
Advertiser Saturday 19 September 1953, HARDING. — In loving memory of Chum, died of wounds, Tobruk. September 20, 1941. —Dad and Win.
Advertiser Monday 20 September 1954, HARDING. — In loving memory of Chum, died of. wounds. Tobruk. Sept. 20. 1941.— Dad and Win.

Researched and written by Kaye Lee, daughter of Bryan Holmes SX8133, 2/48th Battalion.

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