Ross, or Junior as he was known to his mates, was born on the 18th October 1923 in Sydney and he enlisted in the RAAF on the the 20th June 1942, also in Sydney.
Ross died in a flying accident on the 21st November 1944, while he was with 145 Squadron when it was based in Fano.
John “Johnny” Anthony Ulm, another Spitfire pilot, recounts the following story:
With fellow Aussies, Reg Nevett, Ross “Junior” Harding, Kiwi Joe Moffatt, and Brits, “Paddy and Pud”, I joined 145 Squadron on the Adriatic Coast. The Squadron lived mainly under canvas and in my time with 145, of the four in our tent, two were killed, and I nearly bought it three times that I was aware of. Our work was mainly in close support of the Eighth Army, dive bombing and strafing, sometimes 100 yards ahead of our somewhat trusting infantry. The photo is of a Luftwaffe Fw 190, the aircraft that Ross would have had a few tussles with.
Shortly afterwards, we Down Under boys suffered our Saddest Moment of the war to date. Ross Harding, just turned 21, known to us all as “Junior”, a born fighter pilot, with sun bleached hair from his home at Dee Why Beach, was killed on the 21st November 1944. During takeoff, the engine had some trouble and and his 500 pounder exploded under him. We buried him in a blood-soaked hessian in the mud, marking the temporary grave with white painted stones. He now rests forever at Ancona.
145 Squadron moved to Malta in June 1943 and began to fly offensive patrols of Sicily before covering the Allied landings. It moved to Sicily soon after the Allied landings, arriving on 13 July, then moved to the Italian mainland in September 1943. By the end of 1943, enemy fighters were becoming rare in the skies over Italy. 145 Squadron consequently began to carry out ground attack missions, and in June 1944 becoming a fighter-bomber squadron. It continued to perform this role to the end of the war.
Ancona War Cemetery is in Italy on the Adriatic Coast. The site was chosen to reflect the Allied progress up the Adriatic Coast in August and September 1944.
With thanks to Johhny Ulm
Bruce Read and Lee Hunt
The Spitfire Association