Edward Ian Bruce Harvey originally joined the Royal Navy as a junior officer, before transfer to the Scots Guards. This was followed by a posting to West Africa. Later he resigned from the Army and became a medical student in Edinburgh.
He re-joined the Army in 1939 and was serving with the 147th Field Ambulance when he was selected to command the 225th Parachute Field Ambulance (225 PFA) on its formation in June 1943.
Lt Col Bruce Harvey attended parachute training at RAF Ringway, along with 243 other members of 225 PFA, on course 75 which ran at RAF Ringway from 26 June to 6 August 1943. The course instructors’ notes record that he was a “very excellent commanding officer; set an exceedingly fine example and did very well on the course.”
He commanded 225 PFA on D Day, where he established a surgical aid post at the Café Gondrée, neighbouring Bénouville Bridge, and cared for the wounded. For his actions here, during the first days of the operation, he was awarded the Distinguished Service Order. His citation reads:
“On 6 June 1944, the Field Ambulance landed by parachute in area 1274 (Ref Map France 1/25,000, Sheet 40/16). Lieutenant-Colonel Harvey after leading his unit to the neighbourhood of the site chosen for the MDS [Main Dressing Station], made a personal reconnaissance. He encountered some enemy in the building selected, took two prisoners and then established his MDS. He organised the removal of casualties from the bridges, coming under heavy and accurate machine gun fire whilst doing so. Again on 7 June 1944, when his MDS was hit by mortar fire and several men killed and wounded, Lt Col Harvey by his example and coolness maintained a steady flow of casualties to the treatment rooms. His MDS was again heavily shelled on the morning of 8 June 1944. This officer by his outstanding courage, complete disregard of personal safety and coolness under fire has set a very high standard.”
Bruce Harvey was promoted to Temporary Colonel in May 1945 and appointed as Deputy Director Medical Services Norway Command in HQ 1st Airborne Division. He was responsible for the organisation of medical services for the whole of Norway during its liberation and his work was subsequently recognised with the award of the King Haakon VII Liberty Cross.
He continued as a T/ Colonel on the Supplementary Reserve until 1948 and was awarded the honorary rank of Colonel.
Bruce Harvey remained on the Regular Army Reserve of Officers until reaching the age limit in January 1959.