Arthur Dennis Harris of Cheltenham, who served in The 8th KRI Hussars and the 2nd Royal Gloucestershire Hussars in the 2nd World War, died in November 2009. He was 89.
He enlisted in the 2nd RGH, a TA unit, on June 134 1939 and was called up at the outbreak of war. The unit, after training in Britain, was sent to the Middle East in 1941 arriving in Egypt on October 1. The RGH, with two units of the County of London Yeomanry, formed a brigade, part of the 1st Armoured Division.
Arthur, a member of a tank crew, was involved in a series of battles in the Western Desert in Nov and Dec 1941. There were many casualties but he survived. RE-equipped with new tanks, the unit was in action again in May 1942. Arthur was wounded in June and was hospitalised for five weeks.
In Jan 1943 the unit was disbanded and what was the Cheltenham squadron was posted to The 8th King’s Royal Irish Hussars, then in Cyprus. After further service in the Middle East, the Unit returned to the UK and, re-equipped with new tanks, trained for the Normandy invasion. The Regiment, less ‘C’ Squadron, went up the Normandy beach on D+3.
In the battle for Villers Bocage soon after landing, Arthur, then a Corporal, helped his crew escape from a burning tank and ensured that the codes and maps had been destroyed.
Eventually, he was promoted to Sergeant and became a troop leader with three tanks under his command. When, near the end of the war, the Regiment advanced into Germany, Arthur’s tank was hit and the following action resulted in him being awarded the Military Medal. The citation recalls the action as follows:
“In April 1945, Sgt. Harris’s tank was hit by an anti-tank shell which injured the gunner and jammed the turret. Despite the fact that he could not traverse the turret, Sgt Harris manoeuvred the tank into a position which enabled him to knock out two anti-tank guns and capture the crew.
This NCO has displayed leadership and courage of the highest order. His example has been invaluable.”
Arthur, like many other Gloucestershire Hussars, was very proud of his service in The 8th Hussars.