Sergeant Gunner - Royal Air Force Volunteer Reserves - 115 Squadron - Service No. 1286585
Eric Roland Harding was born on 31st July 1923 in Grimsby, Lincolnshire. His father was Ernest John Harding, a Draper’s Manager of Bon Marche, and his mother was Louisa Jane (née Tucker). The first school that he attended was Cliffe House School in Gravesend.
In 1932 Eric Harding joined The County School for Boys – now known as Gravesend Grammar School. The Head Master at that time was the Reverend Samuel Lister. The County School for Boys was located in Darnley Road, Gravesend close to the Railway Station (now the Victoria Centre for Education). In 1938 the School moved to brand new premises in Church Walk, Milton, Gravesend opposite to Milton Church.
The School’s Admission Register lists Eric’s address as Highlands, Windsor Road, Gravesend. Whilst at the School, Eric was in Hill House. Older brother, Leslie Harding (born 1921) was also a student at the School. He is also on the School Roll of Honour – killed in action on 19th August .1942. Another brother, Cyril, was a member of the National Fire Service in Gravesend during the War, and a sister, Freda, on war service in East Africa.
In 1939 Eric left the School and started work as a pupil at J and E Hall Ltd. In 1941 Eric enlisted in the Royal Air Force Volunteer Reserves as a Sergeant Gunner, Service Number 1286585, joining 115 Squadron.
On the 4th June 1942, Eric Harding took off from RAF Marham on Operation Bremen, with 170 aircraft. Although crews reported indifferent results, this was in fact the third heaviest raid on Bremen of the war. The U-boat factory was damaged as was the harbour area. However, Eric Harding’s aircraft did not return, as it crashed into the North Sea. He was killed age 18. He is remembered at Runnymede Memorial Panel 85.
Eric Harding was in the same Form as Roger Lovell, who was also Killed in Action in World War Two.
There are links below to Newspaper Clippings and Photographs from the Gravesend Grammar School Archives.
Below are links to the Commonwealth War Graves Commission website and a few other websites that might be of interest: