January 20th 1917

Today’s Daily Telegraph, I note, records on their Roll of Honour, the death of 2nd Lieut. Wallace Hardman, alongside five others from the Manchester Regiment. From articles over the past week it has become clear that he was killed in the engagement that took place on January 9th at Mahammed Abdul Hassan, north of Kut.

The Hardman and Mallalieu cousins are bearing up well in the face of the news, as we settle into a new term – the eighth of the war thus far.

Young Percival Mallalieu (aged 8 and in Form 1a), remembers being with his Aunt Minnie (Wallace’s mother) last autumn on a walk that took them past her local Post Office, when someone came out with a telegram. She must have feared the worst, but as it transpired it was only to give her the news that Laurie (her third son) had arrived safely back at Bedford School.

“Auntie Minnie held the message so that we could see it; but her hand was shaking so much that we could not read it.” Percival recalled.

The telegram she so feared at that moment was the one she received a week ago, on January 13th:

hardman-telegram

 

I am very grateful to the Hardman family for this most charming picture of their grandmother with ten of her grandchildren, taken in 1902. Three of them have now given their lives and four others are serving officers.

hardman-grandchildren

The older boys in the back row are David Westcott Brown (killed), Maurice Campbell (Lieut., RAMC) and Percy Campbell (killed).

The middle row shows Pat Campbell (2nd Lieut., RFA) Hugh Brown (Capt., Bedfordshires and recently wounded) and Geoffrey Brown.

With their grandmother in the front row are Donald Hardman (Artists Rifles for RFC) and Wallace Hardman (killed).

How can anyone look at such a picture without shedding a tear?

January 16th 1917

hardman

2nd Lieut. Wallace Hardman (13th Manchester Regiment)

The term could not have a worse start than to coincide with the death of another gallant Old Dragon. That it should be another member of the Hardman family, who have already lost two cousins (Percy Campbell & David Westcott Brown), is an even greater tragedy.

Indeed, five of Wallace’s cousins are current pupils, who will return for the beginning of the new term tomorrow, their hearts heavy with this news.

Although Wallace was commissioned into the 13th Battalion of the Manchester Regiment in March 1915, he was then attached to the 1st Battalion, which was deployed to Mesopotamia in January 1916.

Wallace joined his Battalion on August 28th 1916 to be part of the new British offensive on Kut, which started last month under Lieutenant-General Sir Stanley Maude. Thus his active service amounted to less than five months.

Wallace’s mother received the news of his death on the 13th. Since then Wallace’s servant has written with the details of how he died:

“On the 9th of January, early in the morning, he and some of his brother officers took part in an attack against the Turks. A native regiment ran away and Wallace went after them and forced them to return…

Later on, while going along the trench, seeing that all of his Lewis guns were ready, the word came for the attack. One of the gunners, a small man, could not lift his gun over the parapet; Lieut. Hardman lifted it for him and was shot dead in doing so.”

The letter from his Commanding Officer shows the great esteem in which he was held by his fellow officers:

“Your son was shot through the head and died instantaneously, while gallantly leading his men in an attack on January 9th.

His conduct during the attack in its earlier stages was so gallant that I intend particularly to mention his name when the next despatches are sent in as, in conjunction with several others, he succeeded in saving what at one time looked like a very dangerous situation.

Your son was one of my best officers  and was beloved by us all and I cannot tell you how we miss him.”

 

Wallace was the first son of an Old Dragon to come to the OPS, when he arrived aged 9 in 1906. I recall that, at his father’s request, I allowed the school an extra half-holiday in honour of the occasion.