Battle Of Arnhem Veteran Passes Away

The Battle For Arnhem: Allied tanks of British Corps cross the road bridge at Nijmegen.

Gordon (Curly) Harding passed away early in December. He was one of only a few surviving members of the 3rd Parachute Regiment that fought at Arnhem in the Second World War.

Assistant Poppy Appeal, the organizer for the Spalding branch of the RBL Cheryl Arnold, said Curly shouldn’t be forgotten. The Arnhem men were distinct.

Major David Allmond, chairman of the Spalding Parachute Regimental Association, of which Curly was a member, added that the loss is tremendously sad. Curly was the last of the 3rd Battalion men who arrived in Spalding in the latter part of 1943.  It’s a bigger loss than can be described. He was the last connection with the 1940s.

Harding was one of about 250 men of the 3rd Battalion who trained at Spalding, England starting in December 1943.

They resided in accommodation huts on the Grammar School Field, the Odeon Cinema, and other locations.  Following nine months of training, they were assigned to take part in the assault on Arnhem as part of the British Airborne Division, perhaps one of the most famous battles of the war.  Of the estimated 12,000 or more men who fought at Arnhem, only 2,000 survived, Spalding Guardian reported.

Allmond has described the battle as ‘devastating’ because of the large loss of life.

Harding, one of the few survivors, returned to Spalding, marrying his third wife in 1976. After she had passed away, he lived with his stepdaughter and her family. She said his death had left a big hole because he was always present and been a part of the family.

Ian Harvey

Ian Harvey is one of the authors writing for WAR HISTORY ONLINE