Billy Beresford, born on the 31st of July 1921, was one of four children who grew up in a very poor area of Derby known as the Little City. He attended the local school and left at the age of fourteen to work at a local steelworks as a construction plater.

Billy was about twenty when he volunteered to join the Army and was enlisted on the 12th of June 1941 and reported for service in July 1941. He was allocated to the RAC and posted to Tidworth for his basic RAC training then off to Catterick to complete it. In January 1942 he sailed from Liverpool with a draft of reinforcements for the Middle East.

Billy joined ‘B’ Squadron 4th Hussars and on 12th June 1942 went into action during the battle of Knightsbridge.

Unfortunately, it was to be his first and last experience of action.

His tank (a Grant with a crew of six) lost a track having been hit by a German anti-tank gun, a second shell went through the tank and a third shell set the engine on fire. The crew bailed out. Billy was wounded in the arm, leg and side.

He was eventually captured by the Italians and became a prisoner of war in June 1942. He was a POW in Italy until the Italians surrendered, then taken prisoner by the Germans and shipped to Germany until repatriation in May 1945.

After a period of leave, Billy was posted to the RASC at Yeovil in Somerset where he attended a driving course and passed with a full driving licence. He was medically downgraded and discharged with a disability pension and left the service in September 1946 having served five and a half years.

He was awarded the War Medal and Africa Star.

In civilian life, Billy returned to this old job in the steelworks for a while then was employed as a civilian driver with the Royal Army Ordnance Corps, which entailed delivering trucks to units and docks around the country, followed by seventeen years in a plating shop making steam boilers. Eventually, he worked for Raleigh Cycles until early retirement at the age of sixty-two.

He attended the London Reunion on many occasions and was very proud of his Regiment.

He married Betty Wynn in September 1948. Betty sadly predeceased him in 1991. They had one son, Alan, a daughter and a number of grandchildren.

Billy died on the 16th of January 2009 aged 88 years.

Related topics

  1. A short history of The 4th Hussars
  2. Middle East (Egypt and Libya) timeline