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Tribute to a Hero (Hardback)

The Life and Loss of Major Paul Harding MiD at Basra

Military > Biographies Military > Post-WWII Warfare

By Paula Harding, Garry McCarthy
Imprint: Pen & Sword Military
Pages: 256
ISBN: 9781399089708
Published: 8th November 2022



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When a senior army officer is killed in action holding off an enemy attack threatening to overrun his outpost, the confidence of his comrades is rocked. Accolades of courage and eulogies flow freely from politicians and Generals alike. For the briefest of moments, a devastated nation pauses to pay homage to a fallen hero. Fellow countrymen marvel at the heroic endeavours, patriotism courses through everyone’s veins, then all too swiftly life moves on. But for the young family, the fight has just begun.

This powerful story is as inspirational as it is humbling. Major Paul Harding was the most senior officer to be killed in action during the Iraq campaign. A legend of his time with over 30 years service, people like him are not meant to die in combat. His death shocked every soldier under his command and was felt by three decades of army veterans. Caught in the centre of this tragedy, the family courageously battle to come to terms with their grief and fill the void of a talented father and great warrior.

Heart-breaking and awe-inspiring in equal measure, the story recounts the immediate aftermath of Major Harding's death and the incredible journey of his family as they navigate their way through the pain of an unwanted new normal. This intimate account of modern war is like no other. Written by his widow and a junior subordinate, it details the life before, and after the heart-wrenching moments when Major Harding’s family are told that, the fiercest of battles in Iraq had claimed his life. This first-hand account includes the gargantuan effort to steady the family's resolve and help them rebuild a life torn apart by conflict and the fifteen year journey to contentment.

5 Stars

I am much better informed after reading the book and would recommend it to anyone with an interest in British Military Family Life from the mid 1980's to the Mid 2010's, family bereavement, The Royal Green Jackets or the Rifles.

Read the Full Review Here

Army Rumour Service (ARRSE)

A very good read, I feel a must for Army wives. At first I was sceptical about the duel authors but it worked

Anthony Beach

About Paula Harding

As a teenager Paula Harding embarked on a career as an NHS nurse. Committed to making the world a better place, she met her soul mate after a chance encounter during a family visit to West Germany in 1984. She met and fell in love with a dashing young soldier who was passionately loyal to the service of his country and determined to make the world a safer place. Having witnessed conflict at first hand over three decades, she was prepared for all eventual outcomes as her husband once more departed for war. As a busy mother of two, she focused on routine and future planning. These two disciplines have since become the bedrock of resilience as she struggled to come to terms with her loss and prevent the family from falling apart amidst the greatest challenge of anyone’s life.

About Garry McCarthy

Garry McCarthy was a subordinate and lifelong friend of Major Paul Harding. For three decades they had served together in a family regiment, travelling the world on operational service and duty. Like Major Paul Harding, Garry was selected for a Late Entry Officer Commission after serving 20 years in the ranks and quickly became an expert in soldier welfare. By 2007 he had become one of the most experienced officers in managing the aftermath of servicemen killed on duty. Exhausted and emotionally drained from previous tours of duty, he was given leave to miss an imminent deployment to Iraq. Far from proving to be the required respite it left McCarthy as the only officer available to support the Harding family through the most traumatic period of their lives.

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