Veteran Stories:
Edmund Harding

Army

  • Pictured here are three Italian women that Edmund Harding met while on leave in Italy.

    Edmund Harding
  • Edmund Harding and his friends pose with Italian prisoners of war in 1944. Mr Harding is in the front row, second from the right.

    Edmund Harding
  • Edmund Harding poses with his rifle during the Italian campaign.

    Edmund Harding
  • Edmund Harding (right), poses with a friend in Malta in 1942.

    Edmund Harding
  • Edmund Harding in Italy, 1944.

    Edmund Harding
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"And when the air raid subsided and finished, I found out that that drugstore I was going to was directly ahead, and everybody was killed."

Transcript

In Malta, begin there, because that’s where I started from. At that time, this is 1942, supply ships were trying desperately to reach Malta because there was nothing on the island, even the food was very scarce. And they were being blown up by the Luftwaffe, the Luftwaffe being the Messerschmitts, German aircraft, fighter aircraft, and the Junkers, the [Junker] 87 bombers [also known as Stukas]. They were being bombarded daily and our task, myself, was to defend the island, no matter what. I was in the KOMR, the Kings Own Malta Regiment, and we actually had a Bofors [anti-aircraft gun]. We used Bofors most of the time. The Bofors, what they called then the Ack-Ack 3.7s, which fired a boom, boom, boom, boom, just one after the other, you know. And that’s how we got to aim at these Luftwaffe aircraft, the Junkers 87/88 and the Messerschmitts. That was my role and one other role actually was to cycle on a bicycle at night along the peripheral area where we were staying, a placed called It-Taflija – that was the name of it – and to see if the Germans or anybody else were trying to invade the island. So that was another of my tasks. But mainly it was Ack-Ack. An air raid would, well, first of all, we in the army would know that an air raid was imminent, but the island itself would have a siren. Like they did in London, England, I suppose you heard that before. (siren sound) We had eight to nine air raids every day. So as soon as the air raid sirens were gone and we were alerted that there was an air raid in offing, you know, we would race over to our Bofors guns, the Ack-Ack 3.7-inches, they used to call it at that time, and fire at the aircraft. We brought down a couple in my battery, you know. And then they left and they landed in Italy because they were stationed in Italy, the Germans. And even the Italians at one time, they sent their aircraft, called the Alfa Alessandro [referring to the Savoia-Marchetti SM.79, designed by Alessandro Marchetti]. That was the name of the aircraft that came over. But they were mostly 90 percent German. And we stood by there to find out if we had any casualties or any other problems and waited out, and then about a half an hour later or an hour later, there was another air raid. You know, and that went on and on and on. And the raid that stands out for me, and this is just about not even a month before I joined the army, I was racing on my bicycle to go to the pharmacy and buy something, I don’t know what it was. Anyway, there was something that I needed, and an air raid ensued at the time. Now, I was not actually in the army at the time, it was about a month before I joined. I was just 17 and something. So instead of going to the drugstore, I stopped and I was trying to get into a shelter of some kind, which I did. And when the air raid subsided and finished, I found out that that drugstore I was going to was directly ahead, and everybody was killed.
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