Alan, a trainee engineer, joined the Army in 1941 and was posted to Bovington. His basic training course completed, he was posted out to Egypt, joining The 8th Hussars near Cairo where they were being brought back up to strength and re-equipped after the battle of Sidi Rezegh.

Posted to ‘A’ Squadron, commanded by Maj Geoff Harbord, he gained his battle experience at Bir Hakim, the Knightsbridge Box and all the confused and bitter fighting of early 1942 as the Allied Forces were driven back to the Alamein Line.

He soon gained a reputation for quiet courageous leadership and was promoted to corporal. ‘A’ Squadron was part of the northern protective screen during the opening phase of the battle of Alamein. His tank was hit, the track blown off but soon repaired and he continued with the squadron during the next three months of fighting.

A brief spell of training in armoured cars followed as the Regiment was posted first to Cyprus, then returned to Benghazi, before returning to England in December 1943 to reequip with tanks once more and prepare for the invasion.

Landing with the Regiment on D3, he was in action near Villers Bocage on the 11 June, and the two leading tanks of his troop were knocked out by an 88mm gun at point-blank range.

The squadron suffered severe casualties during the next two days and as a result, he was posted to a new troop, formed out of the survivors and commanded by a young officer with no previous battle experience. Together with Sgt Pritchard, he made an immense contribution to creating a competent troop which survived the ensuing battles intact until January 1945.

He had a determination about him that, tempered by his slow dry wit, made him a popular figure in the squadron. He was Mentioned in Dispatches and promoted to sergeant in April 1945.

He was delighted when news of the posting to Berlin was announced, as he strongly admired the Russians and their regime. Early contacts altered his views on this point, but his firm socialist views remained, and after his demobilisation, in December 1946 he played a prominent part in the Labour Party in Lancashire.

In 1980 he remained an indefatigable worker for a wide range of charities, a prominent member of various tribunals and organisations, and hospital committees, and in fact, active in everything which helped those in difficulty until the onset of cancer forced him to slow down.

He kept in close touch with the Regiment and attended reunions until illness prevented him from so doing.

Related topics

  1. A short history of The 8th Hussars
  2. Middle East (Egypt and Libya) timeline
  3. North-West Europe 1944-45 timeline