William James Hardham, VC (31 July 1876 – 13 April 1928) was a New Zealand soldier who was a recipient of the Victoria Cross, the highest award for gallantry "in the face of the enemy" that could be awarded at the time to military personnel of the British Empire.
Born in Wellington, Hardham was a blacksmith and part-time soldier in the local militia when he volunteered to serve with the New Zealand Military Forces in the Second Boer War. Posted to the 4th Contingent in 1900, he was on a patrol in the South African Transvaal when it was ambushed. He rode his horse to the rescue of a wounded soldier while under heavy fire and for this he was awarded the Victoria Cross. Discharged from the New Zealand Military Forces in 1901, he rejoined for another period of service in the Second Boer War but was only briefly in South Africa before being sent to England for the coronation of King Edward VII and Queen Alexandra.
Returning to civilian life, he became increasingly involved in rugby administration with the Wellington Rugby Football Union; he had played representative rugby for Wellington in his youth. He also continued to serve in the militia. When the First World War began, he volunteered for service abroad with the New Zealand Expeditionary Force (NZEF) and was posted to the Wellington Mounted Rifles (WMR) as a captain. Wounded during the Gallipoli Campaign, he was repatriated to New Zealand. On recovery he was made commandant of Queen Mary Hospital in Hanmer Springs but desired a return to the NZEF and a posting overseas. He rejoined the WMR, then in Palestine, in late 1917 but his health was poor and affected the remainder of his service in the military. Having reached the rank of major by the end of the war in 1918, he was discharged from the NZEF. Returning to civilian life, he worked for a newspaper and later the Public Works Department as well as being involved in veterans' affairs. He died in 1928 at the age of 51.
In the Face of the Enemy: The Complete History of the Victoria Cross and New Zealand. Auckland, New Zealand: HarperCollins.
Harper, Glyn; Richardson, Colin
Haka: The Maori Rugby Story
McCarthy, Winston; Howitt, Bob
The New Zealanders in South Africa 1899–1902.
Hall, D. O. W.