Hardy, Edwin Forrest.

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Hardy, Edwin Forrest, born on 08-09-1886, in Franklin, Ohio, the son of Clarence Henry (Larry) Harding, the manager of the Harding Paper Division of the American Writing Paper Company, and his wife Lilly, born Woodward. Edwin was educated at Franklin High School and Phillips Exeter Academy. He also spent a year at Charles Braden Preparatory Academy, a special preparatory school for the United States Military Academy at West Point . He passed the entrance examination and was appointed to West Point by then Secretary of War, William Howard Taft. He graduated from West Point in the class of 1909, which also included future Generals George Smith Patton, Jacob Loucks Devers, John Cliford Hodges Lee, nickname “Jesus Christ Himself “, Robert Lawrence Eichelberger , and William Hood `Bill` Simpson. John Hodges died age 58, on 30-08-1958 in York, Pennsylvania.

Prior to World War II, he was in 1938 a Colonel in command of 27th Infantry Regiment, nicknamed “Wolfhounds” . In 1941 he was promoted to Brigadier General and Assistant commander of the 9th Infantry Division.

Harding had an agile mind. He could quote T. S. Eliot or Tennyson or Kipling, and discuss history or astronomy like an Ivy League professor. Harding understood the modern military and had literally written the book on it. During 1934, Colonel George Catlett Marshall   was assistant commandant at Fort Benning and selected Harding as an instructor and put him in charge of the Infantry School’s publications. He edited Infantry in Battle, a book that codified new ideas on how to organize infantry in battle. Harding was responsible for planning the book and supervising preparation and editing of the manuscript.

The 32nd Infantry Division, nickname “Red Arrow Division”  had been scheduled to receive a year of training before it left the United States. It was authorized to have a peace-time strength of about 11.600 soldiers, but like almost all units in the National Guard and the Regular Army prior to World War II, was not at full strength nor was it assigned all of the equipment it was authorized. Casualties of the 32nd Infantry Division during their 654 days of combat are 7.268. Training for many soldiers was incomplete. Harding was a leader who exuded confidence. The 2nd Battalion of the 126th Infantry Regiment, was deployed on an extremely arduous flanking manoeuvre on the Kapa Kapa Trail over a 9.100 feet (2.800 m) divide toward Jaure. The total distance over the mountains to the Japanese positions was over 130 miles (209 km), and most of the trail was barely a goat path. The Kapa Kapa trail across the Owen Stanley divide was a “dank and eerie place, rougher and more precipitous” than the Kokoda Track on which the Australians were then fighting the Japanese. It was “one of the most harrowing marches in American military history.”

In a first for World War II, General Douglas MacArthur ordered the 128th Infantry Regiment, nickname “The Terribles”  to be flown from Australia to New Guinea, the greatest distance the Air Force had airlifted men up to that time. When he learned how the trek across the 9,100 feet (2,800 m) mountain divide was so debilitating and lengthy, Harding requested that the remainder of the division be flown to the Buna area, to join Australian units in an assault on the main Japanese beachheads in eastern New Guinea. A local priest informed the Allies that there was a landing field on the western slopes and MacArthur ordered the rest of the 32nd flown across the Owen Stanley Range, becoming the first U.S. Army artillery flown into combat in the Pacific in World War II

MacArthur had initially promised Harding a new assignment elsewhere in the Southwest Pacific, but Harding was recalled to the United States a few weeks later. In 1943, he was made Commander of the Mobile Force in the Panama Canal Zone, and in 1944 Commander of the Antilles Department in the Caribbean, an unimportant assignment comprising 20 forts, camps and fields in the lesser islands from Cuba, Haiti, Costa Rica to Aruba, and portions of northern South America. In 1945, he was made Director of the Historical Division at the War Department for the Joint Chiefs of Staff. There he oversaw the planning of the Army’s comprehensive history of World War II. He submitted a plan on 18-12-1945, in which he estimated that the full historical series would contain about 120 volumes, although only 101 of them were described.

Death and burial ground of Hardy, Edwin Forrest.

Edwin Harding retired in Franklin, Ohio after 37 years of military service in 1946. Edwin Harding died age 83, on 05-06-1970 and is buried with his wife Elenor born Wood, who died age 61 in 1951 on Woodhill Cemetery, Franklin Warren County, Ohio, USA.

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