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Captain George Clifford Harding
Died 14th April 1919 aged 28



Captain George Clifford Harding served in the 14th Mobile Veterinary Section of the Royal Army Veterinary Corps.


He was born in Shrewsbury in 1890.  His parents, Martin John Harding and Elizabeth Blanche Harding lived in Lexden Gardens, Belle Vue, with their elder son, John and daughter, Hilda at the time of his birth.  They were able to afford to keep a servant.


Martin Harding was a bank cashier but by 1901 he had progressed to the rank of assistant bank manager and the family had moved to Myrtle Villa in Belle Vue and their youngest child, Violet, had been born.


By 1911 the family had moved to Oakdene on Watling Street Church Stretton.  Mr Harding senior had now been promoted to Bank Manager but I can’t be sure which bank he worked for.  George was a veterinary student.  John had left home and Hilda was working as a governess.


George graduated in London in July 1914 and enlisted in the Veterinary Corps as war broke out and was in France by December 1914. The Corps was founded in 1796 after public outrage at the death of horses in battle, especially in the Crimean War. 


During the Great War the corps reorganised to provide a mobile veterinary section as part of each division that went overseas.  The 14th Mobile Veterinary Section were attached to the 3rd Cavalry Division.


They provided first aid to the horses, which suffered from battle injuries, debility, exhaustion, mange and gas attacks.  If greater care was needed the horses were sent to the Base Vet Hospital. The success rate was high. Of 2 ½ million horses hospitalised, 2 million were able to return to service.


In recognition of their great help in the war the epithet “Royal” was added to the Corps in 1914.

Badge Harding.png

Badge of the Royal Veterinary Corps.


At the outbreak of the war there were 364 AVC officers.  A further 1306 were then commissioned and by 1918 almost half of all the veterinary surgeons in Great Britain were serving in the AVC.


As the Mobile section were engaged near the front lines the work was often dangerous. A total of 67 vets lost their lives, 9 inaction, 24 of wounds and 34 from disease.


George did return to Church Stretton at the end of the war but unfortunately he died on 14th April 1919. We know that he died of “disease”. Could he have succumbed to the Spanish influenza that claimed so many lives? He is buried in the Cunnery Road cemetery.

Grave Harding.jpg

Probate was granted to his father in December in the sum of £1256.  George never married and was just 28 when he died.


He was awarded the Victory Medal and the British Medal as captain and the 15 Stars Medal as a lieutenant. (The 15 Stars Medal was awarded to any soldier who served against the Central European Powers in 1914-15, prior to the 1916 Conscription Act)


The Royal College of Veterinary Surgeons raised money after the war for a Memorial.  It was erected at the college in 1921 and George’s name is on it.



His parents moved back to Quarry Place in Shrewsbury when Mr Harding retired from the bank.

Little Stretton, Church Stretton, All Stretton

Stretton WW1 Soldiers on War Memorials

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