The proud granddaughter of a Hartlepool war hero has completed her mission to have him properly recognised

Granddaughter Jill Goulding, sister Margaret Brown, niece Christine Balmer, Major Ian Mattison from the British Plaque Society, David Worthington from Hartlepool Borough Council and councillor John Lauderdale around the grave of Commander Harold Wilkinson Goulding.
Picture by Jane Coltman
Granddaughter Jill Goulding, sister Margaret Brown, niece Christine Balmer, Major Ian Mattison from the British Plaque Society, David Worthington from Hartlepool Borough Council and councillor John Lauderdale around the grave of Commander Harold Wilkinson Goulding. Picture by Jane Coltman

A Hartlepool war hero - whose grave merely called him “Harry” for 70 years - has finally been fully named.

Harold Wilkinson Goulding was the ultimate in brave Second World War daredevils. He risked his own life to get VIPs and secret agents safely behind enemy lines.

Harold with wife Edna and son Bryan at Buckingham Palace having received D.S.O.

Harold with wife Edna and son Bryan at Buckingham Palace having received D.S.O.

He was so highly thought of, senior Army officials including Lord Mountbatten “very strongly recommended” him.

But his astonishing work was so top-secret, his grave has merely said “Harry” ever since his death in 1945.

Now, though, a very proud and grateful granddaughter Jill Goulding, from Hayling Island in Hampshire, has changed all that.

She travelled to Hartlepool to pay a fitting tribute and yesterday, a tablet was officially named in a poignant 15-minute ceremony.

I visited Hartlepool in June last year to meet my Great Aunt and Uncle for the first time, I then visited Harold’s grave and to my amazement it was not properly named, which I vowed to rectify.

Jill Goulding, granddaughter of Harold Wilkinson Goulding

Instead of just saying Harry, it describes a loving husband and father, gives his full name and tells how he was the first person from Hartlepool to win the Distinguished Service Order in the Second World War.

He was a planning and commanding officer on D-Day and carried out more landings on enemy coasts than any other officer.

Also at the ceremony were council officials, councillors and Major Ian Mattison from the British Plaque Trust which commemorates the lives and successes of notable figures.

There was a speech from Jill on Harold’s incredible work, and a poem dedicated to him.

Some of those attending the ceremony around the grave of Commander Harold Wilkinson Goulding.
Picture by Jane Coltman

Some of those attending the ceremony around the grave of Commander Harold Wilkinson Goulding. Picture by Jane Coltman

Harold died on August 4, 1945, just 17 days short of his 43rd birthday. He left a widow, Edna and son Bryan.

Jill, from Hayling Island in Hampshire, explained how the ceremony was the culmination of six years of research.

“In 2010 I found his attache case which was full of Secret, Top Secret and Most Secret documents. I then started to research why he had received the DSO.”

It led to an “amazing story” and to Jill “meeting Harold’s half siblings, my Great Uncle Harry and wife Margaret and to my Great Aunt Margaret and daughter Christine.”

Harold's sister  Margaret Brown, at the grave of Commander Harold Wilkinson Goulding.
Picture by Jane Coltman

Harold's sister Margaret Brown, at the grave of Commander Harold Wilkinson Goulding. Picture by Jane Coltman

Jill visited Hartlepool in June last year to meet her relatives for the first time, and visited the grave.

She said: “To my amazement it was not properly named, which I vowed to rectify.”

A tribute to one of Hartlepool’s finest.

l Harold was born in Hartlepool on August 21, 1903 to Harold and Alice Goulding.

l He went to Brougham School.

l He married Edna Victoria Crallan in late 1926.

Harold and son Bryan.

Harold and son Bryan.

l They had one son who died shortly after birth and a second John Bryan (known as Bryan) born in November 1928.

l Harold joined the Merchant Navy at 15 years old.

l In May 1940, he was offered a commission with the Admiralty. He immediately worked for the Special Operations Executive and SIS 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.

l Between June and October 1940, he carried out more than 70 successful missions.

l He was awarded the DSO in November 1940 and got his award from the King in March 1941.

The ceremony around the grave of Commander Harold Wilkinson Goulding.
Picture by Jane Coltman

The ceremony around the grave of Commander Harold Wilkinson Goulding. Picture by Jane Coltman