b. 20/10/1863 Barnfield House, Exeter, Devon. d. 18/10/1918 Rouen, France.
Hardy was born 20 October 1863 to George and Sarah Richards Hardy of Exeter. Hardy was educated at the Royal Commercial Travellers School, Pinner, Middlesex from 1872–1879, City of London School from 1879–1882 and at the University of London. He was ordained in 1898. He was an Assistant Master at Nottingham High School from 1891–1907, at which one of the Junior School's houses is named in his honour. He was married to Florence Elizabeth Hastings, who died in 1914.
Hardy was aged 51 when war broke out, and was priest at Hutton Roof in the Lake District. He volunteered at once but was turned down as being too old. Eventually, in August 1916, he was accepted for army service as a Temporary Chaplain to the Forces, 4th Class and attached to 8th Battalion, The Lincolnshire Regiment. He had reluctantly been awarded the DSO and MC prior to the award of VC in which his citation includes four separate acts of gallantry. He was the most decorated non-combatant of the Great War.
For most conspicuous bravery and devotion to duty on many occasions. Although over fifty years of age, he has, by his fearlessness, devotion to men of his battalion, and quiet, unobtrusive manner, won the respect and admiration of the whole division. His marvellous energy and endurance would be remarkable even in a very much younger man, and his valour and devotion are exemplified in the following incidents: —
An infantry patrol had gone put to attack a previously located enemy post in the ruins of a village, the Reverend Theodore Bayley Hardy (C.F.) being then at company headquarters. Hearing firing, he followed the patrol, and about four hundred yards beyond our front line of posts found an officer of the patrol dangerously wounded. He remained with the officer until he was able to get assistance to bring him in. During this time there was a great deal of firing, and an enemy patrol actually penetrated between the spot at which the officer was lying and our front line and captured three of our men.
On a second occasion, when an enemy shell exploded in the middle of one of our posts, the Reverend T. B. Hardy at once made his way to the spot, despite the shell and trench mortar fire which was going on at the time, and set to work to extricate the buried men. He succeeded in getting out one man who had been completely buried. He then set to work to extricate a second man, who was found to be dead.
During the whole of the time that he was digging out the men this chaplain was in great danger, not only from shell fire, but also because of the dangerous condition of the wall of the building which had been hit by the shell which buried the men.
On a third occasion he displayed the greatest devotion to duty when our infantry, after a successful attack, were gradually forced back to their starting trench.
After it was believed that all our men had withdrawn from the wood, Chaplain Hardy came out of it, and on reaching an advanced post asked the men to help him to get in a wounded man. Accompanied by a serjeant, he made his way to the spot where the man lay, within ten yards of a pill-box which had been captured in the morning, but was subsequently recaptured and occupied by the enemy. The wounded man was too weak to stand, but between them the chaplain and the serjeant eventually succeeded in getting him to our lines.
Throughout the day the enemy's artillery, machine-gun, and trench mortar fire was continuous, and caused many casualties. Notwithstanding, this very gallant chaplain was seen moving quietly amongst the men and tending the wounded, absolutely regardless of his personal safety.
He was wounded in action when again trying to tend to the wounded and died a week later in Rouen, France, on 18 October 1918, two days before his 55th birthday.
LOCATION OF MEDAL: MUSEUM OF ARMY CHAPLAINCY, AMPORT, HAMPSHIRE.
BURIAL PLACE: SAINT SEVER CEMETERY, ROUEN, FRANCE.
Theodore Hardy is buried in BLOCK S, PLOT V, ROW J GRAVE 1
Barnfield Road, Exeter
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Lochnagar Crater (Thomas Stewart)