Ordinary Seaman Harold Desmond Ford, the son of George Ford and Ada Matilda Ford (nee Taylor) was born at Pomona in Queensland on 28th January 1926. He was educated at the Toowoomba Grammar School. At the age of 17 years and 5 months he was mobilized into the Royal Australian Navy at Brisbane in Queensland on 1st July 1943. His physical description at the time of his mobilization was that he was 6 feet in height and had a medium complexion, hazel eyes and brown hair. He stated that he was of the Presbyterian religion. He gave his next of kin as his father Mr George Ford, residing at 788 New Sandgate Road, Clayfield, Brisbane. His father’s address was later changed to Gold Street, Banyo, Brisbane.
Ordinary Seaman Harold Ford was allotted the service number of B4766 and sent to H.M.A.S. Cerberus for training during the period 1st July until 11th October 1943. He returned to H.M.A.S. Moreton during the period 12th October until 29th October 1943. He then embarked on sea duty with H.M.A.S. Australia on 30th October 1943. He remained a member of the Australia’s crew until he lost his life whilst serving on H.M.A.S. Australia in the Lingayan Gulf Area, Philippines on 6th January 1945. At the time of his death Harold Ford was 19 years of age. His name is commemorated on Panel No. 1 at the Australian War Memorial in Canberra.
Ordinary Seaman Harold Ford became missing and presumed killed whilst serving on H.M.A.S. “Australia” on 6th January 1945 during the invasion of Luzon by American forces. At the time of his death, Harold Ford was 18 years of age. He has no known grave therefore his name is commemorated on the Plymouth Memorial to the missing in England. His name is commemorated on Panel No. 1 at the Australian War Memorial in Canberra and locally on the Toowoomba Grammar School World War 2 Honour Board.
HMAS Australia was attacked by a Japanese dive bomber that crashed into the foremast of the Australia resulting in 30 officers and men being killed or having died of wounds, and 64 wounded, 26 of these seriously.
Ordinary Seaman Harold Ford has no known grave therefore his name is recorded on the Memorial to the Missing at Plymouth in England. His name is commemorated locally on the Toowoomba Grammar School WW2 Honour Board.
The following report of the naval engagement in which Harold Ford was killed was published in the Mackay Daily Mercury on 27th January 1945:
RECORD BOMBARDMENT – Mr Curtin said in bombarding beachheads and heavy gun emplacements, beating off Japanese air attacks, and covering the advance of the American troops, the weight of shells fired by the “Australia” was heavier than in any of her previous engagements. The Australian Navy, he said, well merited the praise it had received from high ranking British and American officers who witnessed the Luzon engagement. The Chief of the Australian Naval Staff (Sir Guy Royle) had received a personal letter from the Commander-in-Chief of the British Pacific Fleet (Sir Bruce Fraser), who watched the operations from an American ship. The letter stated: “I feel very proud of the Australian Navy. Its achievements during the operations were first class. I thought the “Australia”, which seemed to be singled out for attack, dealt with every situation with great courage and determination. She carried out her duties until the landing had been completed and her task was accomplished”.
US CONGRATULATIONS – The work of the Australian ships, continued Mr Curtin, was summed up in signals received by the “Australia” from the Vice Admiral, said: “Your gallant conduct and that of your ships has been an inspiration to all of us”. The Australia flew the flag of Commodore H.B. Farncomb, and was commanded by Captain J.M. Armstrong. The “Shropshire” was commanded by Captain C.A. Nicholls, and the “Arunta” by Commander A.E. Buchanan. The “Aruntas’” sister ship, “Warramunga, commanded by Lieutenant Commander H.J. Alliston, was also in action. Other Australian ships which participated in the operations included the landing ships “Manoora”, “Kanimbla”, and “Westralia”.
Toowoomba Grammar School archive records show that he enrolled as a boarder on 30th January 1939 and left the School on 29th November 1940 after completing seven subjects in the Junior examination. His parent was shown as R.J. Ford. After leaving school he was employed at the Queensland Trustees.
Harold Ford’s brother, George Alex Ford (QX9387), also served during World War 2 in the 2nd/26th Infantry Battalion. He became a prisoner of war when the Allied forces surrendered at Singapore.