Waldo Harnack was born and grew up in Chelmsford where he attended the grammar school. Like his father, 34 years organist and choir master at All Saints' Church in Springfield, he was musical. Waldo gained a B.Sc. and began a career in the civil service in the far east. He married in 1938 and had a son who died in infancy in 1940. Waldo was commissioned as an officer in the Punjub Regiment and was murdered by villagers in March 1942 after the Japanese invasion of Borneo. His father lived in Springfield Road.
Waldo was born in Springfield on 29th December 1904, the only child of Frederick William Harnack (1874-1948) and Emma Harnack (nee Johnson) (1874-1943). His parents had married in Lincolnshire in 1902.
In 1911 the census recorded six year-old Waldo living with his parents at 95 Springfield Road, Springfield (since re-numbered). At the time his father was an Actuarial Clerk. He was also organist and choirmaster from 1899 to 1917 at All Saints' Church in Springfield and again after the First World War for a total of 34 years until he left the positions in 1937 due to increasing deafness.
In 1914 a Chelmsford newspaper reported:
"Musical Success.— ln the recent examinations of the Associated Board of the Royal Academy and Royal College of Music Waldo Harnack. aged nine years, and pupil of Miss Grace Powell, L.R.A.M., passed in pianoforte playing—Lower Division. Harnack has also obtained the Elementary and Proficiency Certificates of the Royal Life-Saving Society knowledge of rescue and resuscitation of the apparently drowned at recent examinations held at the Chelmsford Ladies' Swimming Club. The C.L.S.C. is to be congratulated on so young a member having gained this success."
Waldo was educated at King Edward VI's Grammar School in Chelmsford and later gained a B.Sc., Eng. (Lond.) at the University of London, graduating in 1925.
In 1926 the London Gazette announced that Waldo, was to be appointed Second Lieutenant in the 54th (East Anglian) Divisional Train of the Royal Army Service Corps. He had been lately Cadet Lance-Corporal with the Trent College Contingent, Junior Division of the Officer Training Corps.
In April 1926 he began working for the Sarawak Civil Service as a surveyor in the British protectorate northern part of the island of Borneo. Later that year he became Assistant Superintendent of Surveys and from November 1928 to June 1929 was Acting Superintendent of Surveys. Between May and December 1930 he was on furlough and visited England, sailing there from Calcutta.
Back in Sarawak he became Assistant Superintendent of Surveys, 2nd Division in January 1931 and for a period from April to November 1932 was Acting Superintendent of Surveys once more. In May 1933 he was Assistant Superintendent of Surveys, 1st Division.
Waldo HARNACK, Second Lieutenant, General List seconded to 2nd Battalion, 15th Punjab Regiment
Murdered in Dutch Borneo. Aged 37
Waldo had a second period of furlough from April to October 1935 and once again returned to England, returning afterwards to Sarawak via Singapore. From November 1935 to June 1936 he was Acting Superintendent of Lands & Surveys, a role he covered again from April 1937 to May 1938.
Between September 1938 and April 1939 he had a third period of furlough and during this period, on 1st November 1938, he married Kathleen Margaret Harvey at St. Margaret's Church, Rochester, Kent. His bride was the elder daughter of Mr. and Mrs. H. B. Harvey of Rochester.
In May 1939 he became Acting Superintendent of Lands & Surveys and from May 1940 took up that position on a permanent basis.
During the Second World War Waldo served as a Second Lieutenant, on the General List seconded to 2nd Battalion of the 15th Punjab Regiment, the principle unit in the Sarawak Force, for whom he was the Intelligence Officer fighting against the Japanese.
On 19th September 1940 Waldo and Kathleen had a son, born in Kuching. Sarawak, who survived only a few hours.
Waldo was recommended for a Military Cross for bravery in action at Sampit on 7th March 1942 and was also mentioned in despatches. He was murdered by villagers in Dutch Borneo on 20th March 1942, aged 37, as he attempted to march back to Sarawak. He has no known grave.
Waldo left an estate valued at £2,006 15s. 9d. with probate granted to The Chartered Bank of India Australia and China.
Waldo's mother died in 1943. A Chelmsford newspaper reported:
"ORGANIST BEREAVED.—The funeral of Mrs. Emma Harnack, wife of Mr. F. W. Harnack, Springfield Road, took place on Wednesday. Mr. and Mrs. Harnack have lived in Springfield for 40 years. Mr. Harnack was up to recently organist at All Saints' Church. Their son, who was in Borneo, has not been heard of since the Japanese invasion."
Waldo is commemorated on King Edward VI's Grammar School’s War Memorial, Springfield War Memorial, the memorial to the officers of the Sarawak Civil Service who died from 1941-45 in Sheepstor Parish Church on Dartmoor, and the Singapore Memorial. Confirmation of his death was not to reach home until March 1946.
At the time of confirmation of his death Waldo’s father was living at 95 Springfield Road (later renumbered as 413).
Waldo's widow remarried in Surrey in 1953 and died in Sussex in 1998.