348 - Fighting Brigadier: The Life Of Brigadier James Hill Dso** Mc by Peter Harclerode (Book)

348 - Fighting Brigadier: The Life Of Brigadier James Hill Dso** Mc by Peter Harclerode (Book)


Fighting Brigadier

Brigadier James Hill is recognised in Airborne circles as a founding father of The Parachute Regiment, yet his story has not been told until now. Commissioned in 1931 into the Royal Fusiliers, he had to leave the Army five years later because he married under-age. Recalled in 1939, he won his MC with the British Expeditionary Force in France.

An early Airborne Forces volunteer, he joined 1st Parachute Battalion as second - in - command in May 1942. In October by now in command, he took the battalion to North Africa where he earned his first DSO. Badly wounded, he was evacuated back to Britain where he assumed command of the newly formed 9th Parachute Battalion in early 1943. Promoted to brigadier, he formed 3rd Parachute Brigade, which he commanded throughout the Normandy campaign. Wounded twice, he earned a bar to his DSO.

Hill and his brigade returned with 6th Airborne Division to England in September 1944 before fighting in the winter Battle of the Bulge. In March 1945, 3rd Parachute Brigade played a key role in the Rhine Crossing, and the advance to the baltic in a race against time to block the Russian advance on Denmark. For these and other outstanding achievements Hill received a second bar to his DSO, the US Silver Star and King Haakon VIII of Norway's Liberty Cross.

Post-war, James Hill was a greatly respected figure in The Parachute Regiment, instrumental in forming The Parachute Regimental Association and serving on the Regimental Council for 30 years. In 1974 he was appointed Chairman of the Airborne Assault Normandy Trust, later becoming President and Vice-Patron.

James Hill died in 2006 aged 95. His life-size bronze statue stands prominently at Pegasus Bridge; a fitting memorial, as is this overdue biography, to the Fighting Brigadier.