Exeter Civic Society

Exeter Civic Society

Hardy, Theodore Bayley

Theodore Bayley Hardy VC, DSO, MC, Army Chaplain

A plaque on the wall of Winkworth Estate Agents at the corner of Southernhay East and Barnfield Road, Exeter, reads:

Erected by Exeter City Council and The Devon Armed Forces Charities, 27th June 2006.

In Memory of the Revd Theodore Bayley Hardy VC, DSO, MC. Chaplain to the King. Born 20th October 1863, Barnfield House. Died of wounds 18th Coctober 1918, Rouen, aged 54. “A Gallant Christian Soldier” and “Army Chaplain”

A framed account of the achievements of the REVD THEODORE HARDY is displayed in the corridor outside the Mayor’s Parlour in Exeter’s historic Guildhall in the High Street. The building is frequently open to the public. The account reads as follows:

“THE REVD. THEODORE BAYLEY HARDY, VC, DSO, MC

The Revd. Theodore Bayley Hardy, V.C., DSO, MC was a temporary Chaplain 4th class  and Chaplain to the King.

He was born at Barnfield House, Southernhay, Exeter, on 20th October 1863, the son of George and Sarah Hardy. The house subsequently became a preparatory school for young gentlemen, and was run by his then widowed mother. Following this, it became the YMCA and is now offices ….

Hardy was ordained on the 18th December 1898, aged 34, and was combining his careers as a schoolmaster with duties as a curate. Following his wife’s illness, he had to give up teaching and became the rector of Hutton Roof, near Kirby Lonsdale in Westmoreland.

His wife died in June 1914 and it was only months later that Europe was plunged into war. His two children, William and Elizabeth, were following their own careers and Hardy felt he must now join the Army and take his place in this war. Time after time he applied to the Chaplaincy Department, but he was turned down as too old, he was fifty-one.

His persistence finally paid off and he was accepted in the summer of 1916 in the rank of Captain, Temporary Chaplain 4th Class. Hardy subsequently became the chaplain of the 8th Battalion The Lincolnshire Regiment and The 8th Battalion The Somersets. These two Battalions served alongside each other across the Western Front from Ypres to the Somme throughout the period 1916 to 1918.

It was during this period, Hardy, by his dogged determination to be with the soldiers at the front, proved to be a shining example of courage, humanity, bravery and loyalty to these men that saw him awarded a Distinguished Service Order on 31st July 1917, followed by a Military Cross on 4th October 1917 and finally his Victoria Cross at Rossingal Wood in the Somme in April 1918.

Hardy was wounded in action whilst crossing a footbridge accompanying a fighting patrol of the 8th Somersets on 8th October 1918 on the Selle River  near Cambrai. He was evacuated to No. 2 Red Cross Hospital at Rouen and died on the 18th October 1918; three weeks later the war was over.” Transcribed by JW

Further accounts of the courage of the Rev T B Hardy, the most decorated non-combatant of the First World War, can be found online, including the Exeter Memories website. His Victoria Cross is kept at the Royal Army Chaplains Department Museum in Surrey. A biography, It’s Only Me : A Life of the Reverend Theodore Bayley Hardy V.C., D.S.O., M.C. 1863 – 1918 Vicar of Hutton Roof, Westmorland by David Raw was published in 1988.

This portrait of the Rev T B Hardy, VC, DSO, MC, by Howard Somerville, is kept by the Imperial War Museum

 

The Rev T B Hardy (ringed) carrying a stretcher at the Front