Phil Ward

Philip Ward of Fincham, Norfolk, joined the local Home Guard in 1941, aged 16.

In 15 April 1943 he was called up into the General Service Corps, in Beverley.  He was posted to Cheshire Regiment where he trained as a machine gunner before volunteering for airborne forces.

He qualified as a military parachutist at RAF Ringway in May 1944 and was initially posted to No2 Airborne Forces Holding Unit at Clay Cross near Chesterfield, before being posted to 9th Parachute Battalion at Bulford as a reinforcement.

Posted to Normandy in July 1944, he served as No. 2 on the Vickers Machine Gun of Cpl James McGuinness.  He participated in the break-out to the Seine in August and saw action at Dozule, Pont L’Eveque and Beuzeville.

Philip Ward fought in the Ardennes during the winter of 1944-5 and took part in the funeral of the young men shot by the Germans as spies in Bande.  He escorted some of the coffins from Bande to the nearby village of Grune for burial there.

9 Para moved into Holland immediately after the battle in the Belgian Ardennes.  The machine gun platoon set up a machine gun position in the village of Horn, immediately opposite Roermond, across the River Meuse.  They ‘held the line’ there in February 1945 for about two weeks, before being relieved by the Americans.  After Holland, they returned to the UK, to prepare for the Rhine Crossing, which took place on 24th March 1945.

He parachuted in as part of the Rhine Crossings during Operation Varsity in March 1945, subsequently advancing to the Baltic with the 3rd Parachute Brigade.

He served in Palestine with 9 Bn from September 1944.  Later, he became Platoon Sergeant, in charge of 4 Vickers Machine guns. He was demobed in September 1947.

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