Major Howard Hillier M.B.E., Royal Artillery

Discussion in 'Royal Artillery' started by hillier, Jun 30, 2012.

  1. hillier

    hillier Junior Member

    I have just about finished researching my father’s experiences during WWII but he only left one first-hand account and a few souvenirs, photos, handbooks and notes. I have done my best to piece together his records and have spent many hours on the internet and this forum gleaning information. I feel that I have heeded Ron Goldstein’s plea that contributors first do their research before asking for help! I thought I would give a summary and if members feel like adding some comments (and no doubt many corrections) then I would be grateful. Maybe a few members have relatives who served in his units?

    Howard Hillier No 91549
    1936-1939 London Scottish, Gordon Highlanders (TA)
    1939 Transferred to Brighton by his bank. Joined 57th Home Counties Field Regiment. Took up commission (2nd Lt)
    March-June 1940 BEF .with 57th. Dunkirk
    1940. Invited by commanding officer Brig “Tiger” Lyon-Smith to assist him (as Transport Officer at HQ) set up 6th Support Group, 6th Armoured Division. Acting Captain. 1941 – Substantive captain. Photo Oct 1942 of tanks in Lakenheath, Norfolk – Inspection by King George 6th.

    8.11.1942 Embarked for Tunisia with 6th Armoured. Presume he took part in actions such as Thala, Gouballat-Bou Arada Plain. The only first hand description I have of his wartime experiences is a fascinating account of the final battle in Tunisia, written 30 years after the war ended. In part, it reads:

    “Our Divisional Commander took the keys to the City from the Bey of Tunis and I happened to be present! Then, East of Tunis, at a place called Hamman Lif, a great razor back massif comes right down to the sea, sealing off the whole Cap Bon Peninsular, leaving only about a 20 foot road between it and the sea.. The road at Hamman Lif was protected by 100 and 88mm guns and they caused pretty good havoc. Then we tried to scale the Massif – the Grenadiers and Welsh Guards- it was so steep (about 1 in 2) that I couldn’t get my guns to rake the heights which were massed with machine guns and mortars, etc, etc. So we waterproofed our tanks and drove through the sea and got behind them. Then we swept on straight down to Hammamet and then to Enfidaville.. “

    During this action he was commanding a battery of the 72nd Anti-Tank Regiment. Later, in Italy and Austria, he seems to have been attached to HQ 61st Infantry Brigade. Is HQ regarded as a unit? Please forgive my ignorance!

    July 1943 Promoted to Temp Major .
    Sept 1943 received M.B.E.

    March 1944 Sailed for Italy, was camped under Vesuvius when it blew its top. Joined 61st Infantry Bde as DAA and QMG. Presume he was in 4th battle for Monte Casino, Gustav Line and Liri Valley. Then battle for Arezzo and the Gothic Line.

    He distinguished himself in the push to Austria and was awarded the American Bronze Star

    Commendation for the (American) Bronze Star Medal from Brigadier Adrian Gore, 61 Infantry Brigade (Rifle Brigade):

    “For outstanding zeal and devotion to duty as Deputy Assistant Administrator and Quartermaster General of 61 Infantry Brigade during the past year and especially during the period April 20th to May 9th 1945. During this period Major Hillier has shown himself to be an administrative officer of the highest order and a capacity for hard work, endurance and fearlessness in keeping with the highest traditions. During the Brigade dash forward from Monselice to Klagenfurt during the last week in April when the leading units covered over 100 miles in 24 hours and all units over 200 miles in 5 days, this officer without any thought for his own personal safety went out night and day guiding up the echelons to the leading units. He need not have done this but there were very few maps of the area and wireless was useless owing to the great distances involved. There is no doubt that it was the direct result of this officer’s actions that this successful action, culminating in the capture of Klagenfurt, was made possible.”

    I have a few more mementoes, such as an opera program from Venice, an invitation from a General Murray to attend a buffet supper at Castle Tentschach, the race card for the 6th Armd’s 4th Race Meeting (in Austria?) and photos of skiing in the mountains. Also a souvenir “The Road Home” from Villach to Calais but a note in it states that the route had to be changed, so I cannot accurately trace his route home.

    As a new member I apologise if this posting is too long – you will just have to forgive me for being overly proud of my dear old Dad!
     
  2. BFBSM

    BFBSM Very Senior Member

    As a new member I apologise if this posting is too long – you will just have to forgive me for being overly proud of my dear old Dad!

    Be proud, and it wasn't long.

    Thank you for posting.

    Mark
     
  3. Owen

    Owen -- --- -.. MOD

    Have you got the original recommendations from TNA for his awards of MBE & Bronze Star ?

    The National Archives | DocumentsOnline | Search Results

    Recommendation for Award for Hillier, Howard Rank: Major Service No: 91549 Regiment: Royal Artillery, Headquarters 61 Infantry Brigade, British Army Award: Bronze Star Medal 1947-1948
    WO 373/148

    Recommendation for Award for Hillier, Howard Rank: Temporary Captain Service No: 91549 Regiment: Royal Regiment of Artillery Award: Member of the Most Excellent Order of the British Empire 1943WO 373/71
     
  4. hillier

    hillier Junior Member

    Have you got the original recommendations from TNA for his awards of MBE & Bronze Star ?

    The National Archives | DocumentsOnline | Search Results

    Recommendation for Award for Hillier, Howard Rank: Major Service No: 91549 Regiment: Royal Artillery, Headquarters 61 Infantry Brigade, British Army Award: Bronze Star Medal 1947-1948
    WO 373/148

    Recommendation for Award for Hillier, Howard Rank: Temporary Captain Service No: 91549 Regiment: Royal Regiment of Artillery Award: Member of the Most Excellent Order of the British Empire 1943WO 373/71
    Many thanks, Owen- I didn't have these. Can you tell me what additional information I'm likely to find in the PDF file that costs 3 pounds 50?

    Andrew
     
  5. Owen

    Owen -- --- -.. MOD

    Dont pay the £3.50 I some of us can find them for free.
    Give me awhile & I'll post them.
     
  6. Buteman

    Buteman 336/102 LAA Regiment (7 Lincolns), RA Patron

    Hi Hillier,

    If you wait for a while, I will download it and post it for you. It takes a short while do this this, but costs nothing.

    Someone else may already be doing the same thing.:)

    Cheers - Rob
     
  7. Owen

    Owen -- --- -.. MOD

    Rob, can you do it please.
    I gotta go out.
    :(
     
  8. Buteman

    Buteman 336/102 LAA Regiment (7 Lincolns), RA Patron

    jUST PRINTING IF OFF NOW.
     
  9. Buteman

    Buteman 336/102 LAA Regiment (7 Lincolns), RA Patron

    As promised.

    Date of announcement in the London Gazette - 14 November 1947

    [​IMG]
     
  10. Buteman

    Buteman 336/102 LAA Regiment (7 Lincolns), RA Patron

    Page from the London Gazette. Near top left.

    [​IMG]
     
  11. Owen

    Owen -- --- -.. MOD

    Name Hillier, Howard
    Rank: Temporary Captain
    Service No: 91549
    Regiment: Royal Regiment of Artillery
    Theatre of Combat or Operation: North Africa (Algeria, Tunisia)
    Award: Member of the Most Excellent Order of the British Empire
    Date of Announcement in London Gazette: 23 September 1943
     

    Attached Files:

  12. hillier

    hillier Junior Member

    Owen and Rob,
    Many thanks for all your assistance- great to have the citation! It will go with a photo I have of my father receiving the medal at the US Embassy in London in 1947.

    Andrew
     
  13. kiwi craig

    kiwi craig Member

    Just a small piece of information. Lt Col Loyn-Smith was the OC of the 57th Field Regiment.
    I have done a quick look at the diaries The 57th and the two batteries that made up the Regiment,225 & 226 Btys. I was unable to pick up your Father's name with what I have.
    How ever this is first contact I have had with any one who had a relatives in the same Regiment as my Father.
    http://www.ww2talk.com/forum/people-ww2/45604-937112-gunner-alexander-cormack-ra-discovering-my-father.html
    Cheers, Craig
     
  14. hillier

    hillier Junior Member

    Craig,

    Many thanks for that and I hope my father’s whereabouts in the BEF can be established!

    His official service record states:
    “Proceeding to British Expeditionary Force with unit. Embarked S/57/11/6” Have no idea what these numbers mean. This entry is dated 19.3.1940 but I don’t think that this is the actual date of embarkation.

    Date of disembarkation on return to U.K. from Dunkirk is 24.6.1940 (much later than your father's).


    I don’t know whether you saw my post on 27/6/2012 in the “Introductions” section where I mentioned that my father seems to have been in the 113th Field Regiment, at least for a while. This has further confused the issue.

    What makes me think he must have been with the 57th is the connection with “Tiger” Lyon-Smith (I think you will find this is the correct spelling). I have a letter written by “Tiger”, dated 20th November 1940, asking my father if he would like to assist him (as Transport Officer) in setting up the 6th Support Group., which was to be attached to the 6th Armoured Div. This suggests he must have known my father quite well. There is also an interesting P.S. to the letter: “Would you send me a copy of the War Office telegram appointing me to this command? I think Nicholl has the original.” Is it possible that my father was attached to H.Q. of the regiment in some sort of admin capacity? Does the name Nicholl appear in the diaries?

    Enjoyed reading about your father’s experiences very much.

    Regards,
    Andrew
     
  15. kiwi craig

    kiwi craig Member

    Hi Andrew,
    In the TNA the war diary of the 57th Field is WO 167-485. There were returns by name, of the officers attached to the regiment. Unfortunately, with my Father being a Gunner I did not think to copy it when I was over there. There are many helpful people on this forum that may be able to look it up or get a copy for you.
    Cheers, Craig
     
  16. hillier

    hillier Junior Member

    Thanks, Craig. Hopefully someone who is planning a visit to the TNA can help me.

    Regards,
    Andrew
     

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