John Harman (soldier)

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John Pennington Harman
Memorial to John Pennington Harman - - 596097.jpg
Born20 July 1914
Beckenham, London
Died9 April 1944 (aged 29)
Kohima, British India
Allegiance United Kingdom
Service/branch British Army
Service number295822
UnitThe Queen's Own Royal West Kent Regiment
Battles/warsWorld War II
AwardsVictoria Cross (UK) ribbon.png Victoria Cross
RelationsMartin Coles Harman (father)

John Pennington Harman VC (20 July 1914 – 9 April 1944) was an English recipient of the Victoria Cross, the highest and most prestigious award for gallantry in the face of the enemy that can be awarded to British and Commonwealth forces.

His was one of three World War II VC's awarded for action in India, the others being awarded to John Niel Randle (also at the Battle of Kohima) and Abdul Hafiz (VC) at the Battle of Imphal.[1]


Harman was educated at Bedales School[2] and Clifton College.[3]


Two soldiers visit the Military Cemetery at Kohima to pay their respects to their former comrade Lance Corporal John Harman VC, 1945

John Harman was the son of millionaire Martin Coles Harman, owner of Lundy Island, and followed his father's interest in natural history.

Harman was 29 years old, and a lance-corporal in the 4th Battalion, Queen's Own Royal West Kent Regiment, British Army during the Second World War when the following deed took place for which he was posthumously awarded the Victoria Cross.

On 8/9 April 1944 at the Battle of Kohima, British India, Lance-Corporal Harman was commanding a section of a forward platoon where soldiers of the Imperial Japanese Army had established a machine-gun post within 50 yards of his company and were becoming a menace. Since it was not possible to bring fire on to the enemy post the lance-corporal went forward by himself and threw a grenade into the position, destroying it. He returned carrying the enemy machinegun as a trophy. Early next morning, having ordered covering fire from his Bren gun team, he went out alone, with a Lee–Enfield rifle with fixed bayonet and charged a party of Japanese soldiers who were digging in. He shot four and bayoneted one. On his way back, Lance Corporal Harman was severely wounded by a burst of enemy machine-gun fire and died soon after reaching British lines.[4]

Having been shot Harman was recovered to the nearest trench by his company commander, Captain Donald Easten, and died in his arms.[5] A plaque is displayed on the house where he was born in Shrewsbury Road, Beckenham, located in the London Borough of Bromley. There is also a memorial to him erected by his father in VC Quarry, on the east side of Lundy Island.

The medal[edit]

His Victoria Cross is displayed at The Queen's Own Royal West Kent Regiment Museum in Maidstone, Kent, England.


  1. ^ Brazier, Kevin (2015). The Complete Victoria Cross. Barnsley: Pen and Sword. ISBN 978-1-47384-351-6. pp330-331.
  2. ^ "Bedales School Roll" Archer, Anne and Archer, Dennis p125: Petersfield; The Bedales Association, 1993
  3. ^ "Clifton College Register" Muirhead, J.A.O. p410: Bristol; J.W Arrowsmith for Old Cliftonian Society; April, 1948
  4. ^ "No. 36574". The London Gazette (Supplement). 20 June 1944. p. 2961.
  5. ^ Keane, Fergal (2010). Road of Bones: The Siege of Kohima 1944. London: HarperPress. ISBN 978-0-00-713240-9. p269.

External links[edit]