Lieutenant Colonel Malcolm Harding-Roberts (T 1931 – 1935) passed away in Malvern on September 9th aged 102.
Malcolm was born in Clun in Shropshire in August 1919, younger brother to Eric (T 1929 – 1935) who passed away in 2009. Their father was the local bank manager and the owner of one of the only two cars in the village. In 1927 the family moved to Kington In Herefordshire when their father became manager of the Midland Bank there.
In 1936 Malcolm, Eric, and a friend, all still teenagers, cycled across Europe to Berlin to watch the 1936 Olympic Games. There they saw Adolf Hitler parading down the Unter den Linden and Jesse Owens‘ triumph. On the way home, they witnessed a German military exercise. A portent of things to come.
The following year Malcolm followed his father into the Midland Bank, working in Malvern on the princely salary of £48 per annum. In June 1939 he joined the Territorial Army, and he was commissioned as a second lieutenant, assigned to the Malvern Battery of the 67th Field Regiment, Royal Artillery. War broke out just three months later and the regiment joined the British Expeditionary Force. During the retreat to Dunkirk two of his comrades were killed in the lorry, he was driving. Rescued by HMS Worcester he had to witness further carnage during German air attacks.
On his return to England Malcolm volunteered for “hazardous ops” and after commando training and winning his parachute wings he was posted to India where he was part of a unit that was responsible for directing naval gunfire. That included during the amphibious landings in Burma when he was erroneously listed as “killed in action”.
After the war, Malcolm returned to the Midland Bank where he worked first in Malvern then in Worcester until he retired in 1979. Settled in Malvern he married Trini in 1950 and raised his two sons Christopher and Neil. He returned to serve in the Malvern Battery of his regiment commanding it from 1955 to 1961. In retirement, he regularly attended Royal Artillery and Dunkirk Veterans Association reunions. However, it took many years for him to be able to tell his sons anything about his wartime experiences.
When he was offered retirement on a full pension at age 60 in 1979 (42 years after he had joined the bank) he was told that the actuarial assessment was that he would live to enjoy his full pension until he was about seventy-two. In fact, he was to enjoy it not for 12 years, but for 42 years – by which time we believe that he was the oldest living OW.
The centre of Malcolm’s life was always his family. Trini, who passed away in 2014, his sons Christopher and Neil and his Granddaughters Ilona and Verity, who brought great joy to his and Trini’s later years. An officer and a gentleman; gentle, funny, kind and generous. A much loved Father, Grandfather, Uncle (to Michael [T 1964 – 1968] and Peter [T 1965 – 1970]), Great Uncle and Great Great Uncle.