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Harding, Edwin Forrest (1886-1970)


Photograph of Edwin F. Harding

U.S. Army. Via Mayo (1974)

Edwin F. Harding was a classmate of Eichelberger who commanded 32 Division ("Les Terribles") when it was deployed to New Guinea to participate in the Buna campaign. A leader who exuded confidence, he threw his division against Buna on 19 November 1942 in the expectation that the area was defended only by "a shell of sacrifice troops." He accepted MacArthur's decision to rely on direct air support in place of tanks or heavy artillery, and his troops were stopped cold by formidable Japanese field fortifications.

Harding himself was nearly killed before the attack was under way, when the coastal trawler in which he was moving with his headquarters was attacked by Japanese aircraft. Harding dived overboard and swam to shore. The same attack destroyed many of the supplies intended for the upcoming attack.

MacArthur became so concerned about the lack of progress that he dispatched Eichelberger to take control of the campaign. After reporting signs of poor morale among the men of 32 Division (who had suffered terrible casualties) Eichelberger was ordered to relieve Harding on 1 December 1942. Although MacArthur initially promised Harding a new assignment in the Southwest Pacific, Harding was recalled to the United States a few weeks later.

Service record

1886     

Born
1938
Colonel     
Commander, 27 Regiment
1941
Brigadier general     
Assistant commander, 9 Division
1942
Major general
Commander, 32 Division
1943

Commander, Mobile Force, Panama Canal Zone
1944

Commander, Antilles Department
1945

Director, Historical Division, War Department
1946

Retires
1970

Dies

References

Generals.dk (accessed 2008-3-8)

Mayo (1974)



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