Mr Leslie Harding, Green Street Green
Just as the nation were reading the first official account of the rout of the German “invincible” air amada in the Battle of Britain – the greatest air fight in history – last August and September, the King, at Buckingham Palace, on Saturday decorated Mr Leslie Harding, of Bryrdale, Old Hill, Green Street Green, with the medal of the Order of the British Empire (Civil Division) in recognition of bravery and courage displayed during the battle in civil defence ground work.
Mr Harding is a son of Mr and Mrs Harding , 300 High Street, St Mary Cray, is married and has two children.
Before the war Mr Harding was a builder, but at the outbreak of hostilities took an interest in A.P.R. work, inaugurated by Lieut.-Colonel K.M. Kirkhope, C.I.E., then Chief A.R.P. Warden in the Orpington urban district, and after attending numerous classes and demonstrations for rescue and demolition squads, was eventually selected six months ago to take charge of a rescue party squad. Six months later Mr. Harding was promoted permanent Supervisor of Rescue Services in the Orpington urban district under the Civil Defence Committee.
When the Battle of Britain began in August and September, Mr Harding and his squad were ordered to a district where men were buried in a shelter which had been wrecked by a bomb. One of the men had an arm crushed and Dr. John Grant, with the help of Mr Harding and his men, amputated the limb before the victim could be liberated. Then the rescue squad resumed their work and took six people alive from the debris. All the time the enemy were overhead, being pounded by the R.A.F.
Eventually darkness hampered the rescue work and about midnight General Foreman Rickman (who was a leader of another rescue party) relieved Mr Harding and his squad. But at daybreak Mr Harding and his party were back on the scene, strutting and shoring huge concrete blocks and searching for other victims.
For courage in the raid, excellent leadership and good A.R.P. work, Mr Harding’s splendid services were rewarded by the King on Saturday.
Mr Rickman, who is the Orpington Urban Council’s general foreman, has been commended for his services during the raid. He also rescued two people in September 1940, at another place with the help of his rescue party. Mr Rickman was a volunteer, without any extra remuneration of any kind, In the 1914-18 war he served in the Wiltshire Regiment and in 1938 entered the service of the Orpington Council.
Bromley & District Times, 4th April 1941