He was the “go to” man.
An outstanding officer. A great leader.
Hartlepool man Harold Wilkinson Goulding was held in the highest regard among the men he not only trained, but joined when they went into action in Second World War battles.
He was the Flotilla Officer for Blue Beach during the raid on Dieppe.
He was so highly thought of, senior Army officials felt he should be “very strongly recommended in all ways as being fitted for higher rank. Very loyal keen and hardworking. Has an exceptional energy.”
That recommendation even prompted a reply from Lord Mountbatten who said he fully concurred.” He described Lt Commander Harold Wilkinson Goulding as “outstanding and fully worth immediate promotion.”
This officer is outstanding and fully worth immediate promotion.Lord Mountbatten
Reports described him as having a retiring manner on the outside yet inside he possessed “loyalty, steadfastness of purpose, devotion to duty, zeal and energy of a high order.”
He led commandos and others from Combined Operations in landing craft, navigational, and seamanship skills. He was a first class seaman and navigator, and an exceptionally able Trinity House pilot in Channel ports and waters.
Another report said: “In operations in small craft against enemy occupied coasts, he has entered into dangerous situations of unknown quantity, with fearlessness and courage, and has shown great coolness and presence of mind under enemy fire, for which he has been awarded the DSO. Possessed of more than usual powers of endurance”
But what about the man himself. Thanks to grandaughter Jill Goulding, we can fill in the personal details of a man who did so much for his country.
Harold Wilkinson Goulding was born in Hartlepool on August 21, 1903 to Harold and Alice Goulding.
He went to Brougham school and married Edna Victoria Crallan in late 1926. They had one son who died shortly after birth and a second son John Bryan (known as Bryan) who was born in November 1928, and died in September 1997.
Harold joined the Merchant Navy when he was 15 years old.
In May 1940, he was approached and offered a commission with the Admiralty. He immediately worked for the Special Operations Executive and S.I.S. (M.I.6), ferrying the first Agents and V.I.P.s in and out of occupied territory by means of fast boat, on most occasions personally taking them ashore by skiff.
Many times he came under fire, once by our own Portsmouth Harbour defence.
Between June and October 1940, he carried out more than 70 successful missions and was awarded the D.S.O. for this work in November 1940 and received his award from the King in March 1941.
Throughout the war he was always used when it was “a matter of operational urgency”.
He is a man whose story will continue in Memory Lane later this week.