John Pennington Harman was born at 9 Shrewsbury Road, Beckenham, Kent on 20 July 1914, son of Martin Coles Harman, owner of Lundy Island, of Hoo-end Farm, Whitwell, near Hitchin, Hertfordshire and his wife Amy Ruth (née Bodger) and was baptised at St. Mary’s Caterham on 12 September 1914. He was educated at Clifton College and subsequently at Bedales and was awarded his Royal Aero Club Aviator’s Certificate at Barnstaple & North Devon Aero Club on 12 July 1935.
Supplement to The London Gazette of Tuesday, the 20th of June, 1944
The War Office, 22nd June, 1944
The KING has been graciously pleased to approve the posthumous award of the VICTORIA CROSS to:
No. 295822 Lance-Corporal John Pennington Harman, The Queen’s Own Royal West Kent Regiment.
In Burma at Kohima on 8th April, 1944, Lance-Corporal Harman was commanding a section of a .forward platoon. Under cover of darkness the enemy established a machine-gun post within 50 yards of his position which became a serious menace to the remainder of his Company. Owing to the nature of the ground Lance-Corporal Harman was unable to bring the fire of his section on to the enemy machine-gun post. Without hesitation he went forward by himself and using a four second grenade which he held on to for at least two seconds after releasing the lever in order to get immediate effect, threw it into the post and followed up immediately. He annihilated the post and returned to his section with the machine-gun.
Early the following morning he recovered a position on a forward slope 150 yards from the enemy in order to. strengthen a platoon which had been heavily attacked during the night. On occupying his position he discovered a party of enemy digging in under cover of machine-gun fire and snipers. Ordering his Bren gun to give him covering fire he fixed his bayonet and alone charged the post shooting four and bayoneting one thereby wiping out the post.
When walking back Lance-Corporal Harman received a burst of machine-gun fire in his side and died shortly after reaching our lines.
Lance-Corporal Harman’s heroic action and supreme devotion to duty were a wonderful inspiration to all and were largely responsible for the decisive way in which all attacks were driven off by his Company.
John Harman is buried in Kohima War Cemetery, Nagaland. There are also memorial tablets in SS Peter and Paul, Chaldon, Surrey and at ‘VC Quarry’ on Lundy Island.