The Royal Regiment Of Fusiliers Museum (Warwickshire)

St John's House, Warwick, CV34 4NF

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Brigadier H C Illing CBE, MC

Harry Illing was born in London in 1920 and was educated at Alleyn's School, College of God's Gift, Dulwich. He joined the TA in 1939 as a private soldier in the Artists' Rifles and was commissioned in December of that year, being posted in mid-1940 to the 2nd Battalion of the Royal Warwickshire Regiment. D-Day in June 1944 found him as OC A Coy where he led his Company with great distinction and was awarded a 3rd Division Commendation. At the 1st Battle of Lebisey up against the fanatical Panzer Grenadiers of 21st Panzer Division he was twice wounded and was awarded an MC for his outstanding bravery throughout. After treatment in hospital, he was back with the 2nd Battalion some 3 months later, this time as Adjt and then to the Command of A Coy again.

The Battalion by this time had fought its way out of Normandy and into North West Europe. In doing so, it had been involved in heavy fighting throughout. On the approach to Bremen, the battalion was involved in a very tough battle at Leeste which was defended by the 18th SS Training Battalion - dedicated Nazi youth led by fanatical SS Officers and men. After a vicious close-quarter battle, the battalion triumphed and Harry Illing gained a bar to his MC. He had the distinction of this being awarded to him in the field by FM The Viscount Montgomery of Alamein.

With the end of the War in Europe the 2nd Battalion was posted to Palestine and then Egypt. Harry Illing accompanied them, still as Coy Comd, until 1947 he was posted as Adjt to the 7th Bn Royal Warwickshire Regt (TA) with its Bn HQ in Coventry. He was the sole regular officer in the battalion and was responsible for reforming a disbanded battalion. He attended the Staff College in 1950 followed by various staff appointments in Cyprus and Egypt until in Spring 1953 he was posted to 1st Battalion Royal Warwickshire Regt, again as OC 'A' Coy and remained with the Battalion throughout its time in Korea with the British Commonwealth Division. Under his leadership 'A' Coy prospered in a fighting-fit, well trained battalion.

In 1954 he was posted to a staff appointment in Malaya for 2 years during which he was mentioned in Despatches and appointed an honorary ADC to the High Commissioner. This was followed by attendance at the Joint Services Staff College, a spell as Depot Commander at Budbrooke Barracks and a few months as a student at the Royal Military College of Science at Shrivenham. In 1959 he was back commanding a company for the 1st Bn this time in Aden and thence to Hong Kong until 1960 when he moved to the Ministry of Defence in London as a staff officer in Operations Branch. The highlight of his career arrived in August 1962 when he was appointed to command the 1st Battalion the Royal Warwickshire Regt, then stationed in Hameln on the River Weser in West Germany. During his tour it became 1st Bn The Royal Warwickshire Fusiliers.

It was a happy and confident battalion that he left in 1965 to go to the Ministry of Defence for another staff appt, followed by a move 2 yrs later to Germany, this time as Chief of Staff HQ 2 Division. After a short spell in Aden as Force Comd he was appointed to command 51 Bde in Hong Kong in 1968, on promotion to Brigadier, where he remained for 3 yrs until returning to Germany for a further 3 yrs in a Brigadier's appointment on the staff of the C in C British Army of the Rhine after which he was appointed CBE. His last appointment as a serving officer was as Commander Rhine Area, based in Dusseldorf. He retired from the Army in 1975 but continued as Dep Col Warwickshire, RRF, to which he had been appointed in 1974, until 1981. Finally from 1982 to 1985 he was the Hon Col Warwickshire Cadets RRF.