The widow and the two sons of a "great soldier" killed by mortar fire in Iraq led more than 800 mourners at his military funeral in Hampshire.
Major Harding had served in the Army for 30 years
Maj Paul Harding, of the 4th Battalion The Rifles, was killed less than a month after he was deployed to Basra.
His widow Paula, and sons Christopher, 19, and Jake, 17, led the funeral procession at Winchester Cathedral.
Six pallbearers carried the major's coffin - draped in the Union Flag with his regimental sword and cap on top.
The service on Friday included a eulogy by colleague and friend, former Maj Nick Haddock, who spoke of Maj Harding's "selfless" devotion to both his family and to his duty.
He said: "With a gentle manner and a disarming honesty, he touched so many lives and he died where he was always to be found, leading from the front."
He added that Mrs Harding said after hearing of her husband's death: "He was so strong, so strong. I thought he was invincible."
Maj Harding, who was a rifleman for 30 years, was put in charge of security, re-supply and liaison at the Provincial Joint Co-ordination Centre (PJCC) - a small and isolated outpost in central Basra city shared with Iraqi security forces.
On the night before the Army commander died, he placed himself in the centre's most exposed fortified position to help secure the route in for a re-supply convoy from the Basra Palace base.
The 48-year-old was hit by a mortar round and died instantly on 20 June.
'Brave and courageous'
The funeral service included a rendition of the hymn Jerusalem with prayers including the regimental collect of The Rifles before ending with the Last Post.
The order of service, produced by Maj Harding's sons, told the story of their father's life, how he loved sport from a young age and had trials for Chelsea Football Club who he supported all his life.
It also described how he met his wife at a sergeant's mess rifle ball in August 1985 and they became engaged three weeks later.
Speaking after the funeral, Lt Gen Nick Park, General Officer Commanding Northern Ireland, paid tribute to Maj Harding describing him as "one of our finest soldiers".
He said: "This was not just a great soldier, he was a fantastic sportsman, he was a great mate for everyone he knew and he was a wonderful dad."
Defence Secretary Des Browne said: "Major Paul Harding was an exemplary soldier - brave, courageous, and committed."
His funeral was followed by a cremation.
Maj Harding was the 152nd member of the British military to die in Iraq since hostilities began in 2003.