Sgt. Philip Henry Biggerton Pritchard

(S/N 7952828)

In late 1943 when serving as a Corporal in 'A' Squadron 1st Royal Gloucestershire Hussars, as an Non-Commissioned Officer (NCO) Tank Commander, Philip Pritchard volunteered for the Commandos.

After training at Achnacarry (Commando Basic Training Centre) and reverting to the rank of 'Trooper' - as did every NCO volunteer - he was posted to No.6 Commando (in Hove, Sussex) and posted to No.3 Troop (under Capt. A.C.H. Pyman RA, MC) and No.2 Section (Lt. Donald Colquhoun Scots Guards). With them he went on the Operation: Overlord D-Day being re-promoted to 'Corporal' in July 1944. 

In September 1944, Cpl. Philip Pritchard returned with his unit to Hove and began preparations for future service in the Far East and Japan. However, the sudden onset of the German offensive in the Ardennes resulted in their hasty return to North West Europe in January 1945.

Being wounded by shrapnel on 24th January 1945 at Maasbracht, he was sent to the Belgium Military Hospital (Brussels) that had previously been occupied by the German Army. After about six weeks of operations and treatment he returned to No.6 Commando and rejoined his old Troop once again and a period of intensive training for the planned assault river crossing of the Rhine and the capture of Wesel. He took part in the Wesser river crossing and capture of Leese, before embarking on the crossing of the Aller river opposed by a German Marine Regiment and causing over 90 casualties to the Commando. This was adjacent to the infamous Belsen Concentration Camp and he saw many emaciated prisoners from there on the road as he passed. This, for him, was the first indication that such places existed. The next river crossed was the Elbe river that was assault-crossed just before the war ended.

Cpl. Philip Pritchard returned with his unit to Hove, and promotion to 'Sergeant', for more training and re-equiping for the Far East and Japan, but with the end of the war in the Far East the future for the Army Commandos was bleak. In November 1945 the Army Commandos were disbanded and Sgt. Philip Pritchard returned to the Royal Armoured Corps (RAC) ending up in Germany with 'A' Squadron 5th Royal Tank Regiment until discharged as a Sergeant in November 1946.

After leaving the British Army, Philip Pritchard joined the Australian Army being commissioned and retiring with the rank of Major with an Order of Australia (AM) in 1978. He was then appointed as an Associate to a Supreme Court Judge in Tasmania until final retirement in 1988.

Words & picture courtesy of Maj. Philip Henry Biggerton Pritchard