Trooper John Henry Hird

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Early life:

John Henry Hird was born in Keighley on 16th January 1923, he was the only son of John Christopher Hird, a building contractor and Elizabeth Hird nee Wright. He had two older sisters, Nancy Elizabeth (born 1913) and Ruth Edmondson (born 1919).

The family lived at 99 Highfield Lane in Keighley. John Henry attended Keighley Grammar School before working as a joiner with the family firm, Hird Brothers & Co, Ltd at King Street in Keighley (now Timothy Hird & Son).

A cropped image of a page from a register with details about John.

The 1939 Register shows John Henry Hird living with his parents

At the time of the 1939 Register John Henry lived with his parents at home. His oldest sister Nancy had married and lived in Wharfedale, and Ruth was working as a hospital nurse in Basingstoke, Hampshire.

War service:

Initially during the Second World War John Henry served with the Home Guard, but later enlisted with the 4th/7th Royal Dragoon Guards. This regiment was formed in 1922 by amalgamating the 4th (Royal Irish) Dragoon Guards and the 7th (Princess Royal’s) Dragoon Guards, before transferring to the Royal Armoured Corps in 1939.

A silver coloured eight pointed star with an emblem in the centre. This has a crown and the latin inscription Quis Separabit which means 'Who shall separate us?' The date at the bottom is MCMXXII which is 1922.

The badge of the 4th/7th Royal Dragoon Guards.

The 4th/7th Royal Dragoon Guards were involved in much of the Battle of France, equipped with ‘Beaverette’ cars (which were also used by the Home Guard, so John may have been familiar with them by then) before being evacuated from Dunkirk during Operation Dynamo.

They later joined the 79th Armoured Division and were equipped with amphibious Valentine tanks, then re-equipped with M4 Sherman DD tanks.

On D-Day, the 4th/7th Royal Dragoon Guard’s waterproofed Sherman tanks were the first ashore on G

A wall with a colonnaded front and arched doorways at either end. This photo is from the Commonwealth War Graves Commission.

The Bayeux War Memorial.

old Beach. Their role in the Normandy breakout was significant, being among the first armoured units to cross the River Seine and contributed to the liberation of Lille.

Sadly, John Henry Hird did not survive. He was reported missing in Normandy, and by late September 1944 was officially presumed to have been killed.

He is commemorated on the Bayeux War Memorial in Normandy.

Information sources:

England and Wales, Civil Registration Birth Index, 1916-2005
1939 England and Wales Register
England and Wales, National Probate Calendar (Index of Wills and Administrations), 1858-1995
The Keighley News, 30 September 1944
Commonwealth War Graves Commission
UK, Army Roll of Honour, 1939-1945
Normandy War guide 4-7-dragoon-guards

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