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In the 1930s James Hill was forced to leave the Army because he was under 26 when he married. Recalled to the colours he won his MC with the BEF in 1940. He was one of the first to volunteer for airborne forces and became second-in-command of 1 PARA. He was in the thick of the expansion of Airborne forces in 1941-42 and took command of 1 PARA in North Africa, winning his first DSO. He converted 10th Bn The Essex Regiment to 9 PARA and later in 1943 took command of 3 Parachute Brigade, playing a major role in the D-Day Landings. Wounded twice his Brigade captured the key Merville Battery.
The Brigade recovered to England in September 1944 before returning to Europe to contain the German winter Bulge offensive. In March 1945 his Brigade played a key role in the Rhine Crossing and raced east to block the Russian advance on Denmark.
Post war Brigadier Hill was a leading figure in the Parachute Regiment and revered by fellow Paras. He died in 2006.
Peter Harclerode was a serving officer in the Guards and Paras. He is a much published author who concentrates on Special Forces. He lives in Suffolk.
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