Harold Joseph Pares


Leading Aircraftman Harold Joseph Pares Headstone

Author: RSL (Port Pirie Sub Branch) Inc.

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Harold Joseph Pares was born in Port Pirie, South Australia on the 14th February 1922 to Henry Harold and Helen Alexandra Pares (nee Clack).

Harold enlisted into the Royal Australian Air Force (RAAF) during World War 2 in Port Pirie on the 23rd May 1940, Service Number 2869; Harold reached the rank of Leading Aircraftman.

During his service he was awarded the United States of America Bronze Star Medal for conspicuous gallantry. In March 1944, Leading Aircraftman Harold Fares was in a fierce operation in the Admiralty Islands working with the American forces. For his work, he was mentioned in despatches, though nothing was known in Port Pirie until his mother received a letter dated March 5, 1944 from Mr A.S. Drakeford (Minister of Air) in which it was stated that the Governor-General had noted with approval that Leading Aircraftman Pares had been mentioned in despatches for conspicuous gallantry.

The citation was set out as follows:

“Leading Aircraftman Harold Joseph Pares, while attached to the First Cavalry Division at Rossun, Manus Island, Admiralty Group, in March 1944, volunteered during a tank attack to assist in the dangerous task of removing land mines which were obstructing the advancing American tanks. The young airman performed this work with utter disregard for the concentrated machine gun fire, rifle fire, and his own personal safety, thus inspiring and encouraging the troops in their assault and contributing materially to the success of the mission."

When news of the American honour bestowed on Harold became known around Port Pirie he received many personal and telegraphic congratulations.

A well-known rule of thumb is that an attacking force needs a 3:1 superiority to ensure success. In the opening stages of the battle of Los Negros, the ratio was more like 1:4. In the end the Allies won, "simply because, the United States and Australia dominated that stretch of ocean and the air over it." When queried about the naval support, Brigadier General William C. Chase, commander of the 1st Brigade, 1st Cavalry Division replied, "they didn't support us; they saved our necks". Chase's own defensive tactics were also a vital factor. He was awarded the Bronze Star for his part, as was General Douglas MacArthur. Harold was in good company.

On discharging from the RAAF, and typical of Harold, he had nothing to say about the above heroics. Harold was employed as a Barman at the Federal Hotel, Port Pirie, South Australia under legendary publican and stepfather Mr. Reg G. (Joe) Lambert.

He passed away on the 7th August 1994 and is interred in the Port Pirie Cemetery.




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