Richard Heseltine, or as he was more usually known, Pippin, was born in London in 1914 and educated at Charterhouse. He then took up farming.

However, like so many of his contemporaries, when it was very clear that sooner or later we would be at war with Germany he decided to join the supplementary reserve of The 3rd Hussars and was appointed a 2nd Lieutenant on 13th May 1939.

He was attached to the Regiment in June 1939 for a period of training and was mobilised on the outbreak of war. He moved with the regiment to the Middle East in the summer of 1940 and remained at Regimental duty continually, other than brief absences for courses and leave, with the regiment until he returned to the UK in January 1945.

He saw a great deal of action with the regiment both in the Middle East and in Italy and was awarded the Military Cross and a MiD.

Like so many of his contemporaries, whilst he was not a professional soldier, he was a natural soldier. His MC was won at Chitta d’Castella in Italy an action for which the regiment received a battle honour.

During his time with The 3rd Hussars, both in the Desert and in Italy, the regiment sustained a considerable number of casualties and in a Sky TV programme, which was screened shortly before his death, he talked about his experiences in the desert and in particular the battle of Alamein where many of his close friends were either killed or wounded.

A few years ago the regiment organised a battlefield tour covering operations in Italy, including Chitta d’Castella, where he was a prominent guest artist.

Also over the years, he gave talks on his wartime experiences to members of the regiment, which were both informative and amusing, and in one of which he recounted finding himself and his crew in a German Lager area having thrown a track which they were attempting to replace in the pitch darkness when he succeeded in hitting his driver on the head with a track adjusting bar.

As one of the few surviving members of the regiment, who had come out to the Middle East in the summer of 1940, he returned to the UK in early 1945 on Python and was finally released from the Army in March 1946. Prior to his release, he served with the Pre OCTU, RAC.

On his release he was appointed honorary major on the RARO and finally relinquished his commission, having attained the age limit on 24th November 1964.

Until his death, he remained a highly respected and loyal member of the OCA.

On his release in March 1946, he returned to Suffolk and to his beloved farm.

He died on the 11th of July 2012.

Related topics

  1. A short history of The 3rd Hussars
  2. Middle East (Egypt and Libya) timeline
  3. Italy 1943-5 timeline
  4. Gallantry Award: Citation and Immediate Award of the Military Cross – Maj R Heseltine, 3H