Unassuming Doncaster Victoria Cross hero Jack Harper featured in new book

As the 75th anniversary of D Day approaches on June 6, new book honours a Doncaster World War Two hero who was awarded the Victoria Cross for an act of extraordinary bravery that ended in his death.

By Julia Armstrong
Tuesday, 28 May, 2019, 15:48
Doncaster man Jack Harper, VC, is featured in a new book, How Modest are the Bravest!, by Ken Tout

The story of Corporal Jack Harper, VC, was a former peat digger from Hatfield Woodhouse, is featured in the book, which recounts the battle actions of 22 war heroes from the period running from D Day to VE Day in north-west Europe.

Ken Tout, writer of How Modest are the Bravest, said: “In September 1944 on the Belgian-Dutch border, the 4th Hallamshires and Leicesters had been ordered to attack a vast complex of asylum and prison buildings, using only the lightest weapons, no artillery or aerial bombardment, because refugees, inmates and prisoners were still in residence.

Corporal Jack Harper, VC, from Hatfield Woodhouse, Doncaster, who was killed in battle in September 1944

“Harper's company were to seek a rear entrance by crossing a 300 yards open turnip field and assaulting a marching-gun barricade.

“Casualties were high but almost miraculously by sheer doggedness, Corporal Harper made the crossing in the face of intense machine-gun fire.

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“Having driven back the enemy he was then sent, still under short-range fire, to find a bridge or ford across the wide canal-cum-moat. Reporting back successfully, he was shot dead by a sniper.

“Harper was a quiet, helpful man, known affectionately to his men as ‘our mother hen’ but was immense in battle.”

Ken, who was a Normandy tank commander, said that Jack Harper’s actions exemplify the main theme of his book, “that at the moment of utter battle peril it is usually the quiet thoughtful man, rather than the bully or braggart, who stands tall, ready to give his life for his comrades”.

The book is published by Helion Press UK.