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Rodney Harms MC

Discussion in 'Roll of Honor & Memories - All Other Conflicts' started by GRW, Apr 29, 2016.

  1. GRW

    GRW Pillboxologist WW2|ORG Editor

    Oct 26, 2003
    Likes Received:
    Stirling, Scotland
    "Scottish education nurtured the talents of Rodney Harms, who won the Military Cross in Korea and rose to be a staff colonel in the British army and hold senior Nato and foreign appointments.

    The former pupil of Robert Gordon’s College, Aberdeen, earned his MC for an audacious daylight raid that destroyed a strongpoint of tunnels and trenches in central Korea in January 1953.

    It was a time of stalemate in the conflict, with conditions resembling the Western Front of 1914-18. To reach their objective, he and his party of 17 men from the 1st Battalion, The Duke of Wellington’s Regiment had to cross a thousand yards of “no man’s land”.

    His most dangerous moment came when, having sent the assault group forward to the tunnels together with the covering force that had guarded them all during the crossing, he was attacked by a Chinese soldier who leapt out of a trench and sought to machine-gun him down. He saved himself with a well-tossed grenade, and despite a rain of shells and mortar-bombs, encouraged his men until the job was done.

    “His coolness and courage were outstanding,” the citation for his award said. Harms had kept up a flow of radio reports for his commanders controlling wider events, and on bringing back with him the dead machine-gunner’s body, he found on it papers of military value. He had shepherded his men through the ordeal with none injured. About ten Chinese were killed.

    Four months later Harms took part in the Battle of the Hook, in which there was hand-to-hand fighting, and the regiment, deployed as part of the 1st Commonwealth Division within the US 1 Corps under United Nations auspices, lost 20 dead, and 86 wounded. The battle led to the armistice that still holds today.

    It was, however, Harms’s gentler abilities, as an intelligence officer, trainer of men, and linguist, that would dominate his 36-year army career.

    Born in Chesterfield, Derbyshire, Rodney Malcolm Harms came to Scotland after his father, Walter Stanley, was posted to Aberdeen as an RAF observer on Catalina flying boats during the Second World War. Walter went on to work in the Granite City as an oil company manager. He inherited from his mother, Barbara, an accomplished pianist, the musical talent that gave him pleasure, throughout his military life until his fifties, in playing the violin.

    His gift for languages won him a place to study French and German at Aberdeen University, but he had to give it up as his parents could not afford to pay. Having been in the school Combined Cadet Force and played rugby, he joined instead the 30th Junior Leaders Training Battalion, Elgin, and from there went to Sandhurst. He was commissioned into the Yorkshire-based Duke of Wellington’s Regiment – known as “The Dukes” – in 1949."

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