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John William Harding

Birth

John William Harding was born in Middlesex and he appeared in the 1901 Census, where he was recorded as living in Hawarden at the Orphanage aged 10 with his younger brother Frederick James (aged eight). The two boys were two of 16 children recorded as living at the Orphanage on the 1901 Census.

Early Life

Circumstances in London at that time, possibly due to the effects of the Cholera epidemic, made it impossible for the boys’ father to look after them, so they had been moved to Hawarden. In the early years of their childhood the boys lived at the Orphanage established and run by William and Catherine Gladstone, in the grounds of Hawarden Castle.

William and Catherine were keen to ensure that the children were not institutionalised and received an education, so the children attended local schools. John attended Hawarden County School and his name is recorded on their Roll of Honour.

When the boys left the Orphanage, Catherine Gladstone asked if they could be cared for by a local couple, a Mr and Mrs Shallcroft. They agreed and the boys went to join the family at Castle Lodge in Hawarden.

Chester College

John attended Chester College, leaving in 1911 to teach at St Mary’s Primary School, in Liscard, on the Wirral. He lived on Parkside Avenue, in Birkenhead.

Military Service

John enlisted in Liverpool on the August 29, 1914 and was allocated to the 10th (Scottish) Battalion of The King’s Liverpool Regiment serving as a Private. He would serve with the 166th company of the Machine Gun Corps Infantry. His was also deemed fit for the Territorial Force. His next of kin was named as his brother Frederick, who was serving in the Navy on HMS Electra.

From August 1914 until January 1915, John served at home, sending a postcard to the mother of friends in Hawarden, from his posting in Edinburgh. On January 23, 1915, he embarked for France as part of the Expeditionary Force serving in France for one year 346 days.

Lest We Forget

During John’s service, he returned twice to his home in Hawarden from the trenches. He died fighting, when a shell exploded near him on August 9, 1916. He was 25 years old.

Post Mortem

After his death, Mrs Shallcroft signed for John’s personal effects to be passed on to his brother Frederick. His medals were signed for by Leslie Shallcroft, the eldest son of Mr and Mrs Shallcroft. John’s plaque and commemorative scroll were sent his father listed as living in Fulham.