Second World War North West Europe Capture of Le Havre 1944 and Otterlo April 1945 'Hobart Funnie's' Flying Dustbin Troop Leader

London Medal Company Second World War North West E.

The superb Second World War North West Europe Capture of Le Havre 1944 and Otterlo April 1945 'Hobart Funnie's' Flying Dustbin Troop Leader's Military Cross and Second Award Bar, and post war Territorial Army Order of the British Empire group awarded to Major A.H. Warde, M.B.E., M.C. & Bar, Royal Engineers, who served with distinction in Churchill Tank A.V.R.E.s, is believed to have been in the first armoured vehicle raft over the Rhine, and represented the Civil Defence Corps during the funeral of Sir Winston Churchill.

Of his advance to relieve the hard pressed village of Otterlo on the night of 16th to 17th April 1945 he wrote when his troop encountered as platoon of the enemy - 'The enemy were taken completely by surprise and tried to give up, but we had no infantry with us and were unable to take prisoners. Those that were not killed by Besa fire were killed by 3 grenades thrown from the tanks as we passed them and by AVRE commanders firing their pistols.'

Group of 6: Order of the British Empire, Member, M.B.E., 2nd type, Military Division; Military Cross, GRI cypher, reverse dated 1944, with Second Award Bar dated 1945; 1939-1945 Star; France and Germany Star; Defence Medal, mounted court style as worn.

Condition: Good Very Fine.

Together with the following quantity of original documentation and ephemera: recipients corresponding miniature medal group; Buckingham Palace forwarding letter for the Military Cross, issued to: Captain A.H. Warde, M.C., Corps of Royal Engineers; original Warrant for the Ordinary Member of the Military Division of the Order of the British Empire, as issued to Major A.H. Warde, M.C., Royal Corps of Signals, Territorial Army, dated 15th June 1985; original copy of the London Gazette for 14th June 1985, this contains the second award of the M.B.E.; a letter of congratulations from H.Q. 42 Assault Regiment, Royal Engineers concerning the award of his Military Cross, dated 19th November 1944; a letter of congratulations from concerning the award of his Military Cross, presumably written by his local Member of Parliament - dated 11th January 1945; a superb letter from Major General Sir Percy C.S. Hobart, K.B.E., C.B., D.S.O., M.C., at Tactical Headquarters 79th Armoured Division, congratulating him on the award of the Second Award Bar to his Military Cross, dated 27th July 1945, and issued to Warde when he was serving with 617 Armoured Engineer Squadron; original copy of the London Gazette for 21st December 1944, this contains the award of the Military Cross; original copy of the London Gazette for 9th October 1945, this contains the second award of the Military Cross; an original report on the action fought by 617 Armoured Engineer Squadron at Otterlo on 17th April 1945, this concerning the action where he won his Second Award Bar to the Military Cross; original promotion document to the rank of full Lieutenant in the Land Forces, as issued to Lieutenant A.H. Warde, M.C., dated 29th December 1945; a copy of the 21st Army Group Personal Message from the C-in-C dated Germany, May 1945, and as issued by Montgomery, this hand signed by over 50 men, presumably representing those who served with Warde at the time; Home Office Civil Defence Staff College Certificate confirming that Major A.H. Warde, M.C., attended No.436 Senior Officer's Course at the Civil Defence Staff College, dated 23rd February 1962; Home Office Whitehall Document concerning the State Funeral of the late Rt.Hon. Sir Winston Churchill, K.G., O.M., C.H., on 30th January 1965 - this document lists the men from the Civil Defence Corps who will taking part in the funeral procession, with Major A.H. Warde, M.C. being listed as taking part, and representing the Headquarters of the Huntingdonshire Division; Huntingdonshire Division Civil Defence Corps Certificate issued to Major A.H. Warde, on passing the Home Officer Advanced Test, dated 7th March 1965; a newspaper cutting titled: 'Ramsey M.C. takes Lead - First Raft Over the Rhine', and detailing how he crossed the Rhine in the first raft capable of carrying tanks over the Rhine; a newspaper cutting titled: Royal Honours for Two, which details the award of his M.B.E. for his work with the Territorial Army - this together with related cuttings from the Army Honours List; a Ministry of Defence Letter concerning the award of the M.B.E., dated 15th June 1985; letter form Lieutenant Colonel Peter Gibbs, Private Secretary to HRH The Princess Anne, Mrs Mark Phillips, who wished to express her great pleasure on hearing of the award of the M.B.E. to Warde, issued on Buckingham Palace headed paper, dated 17th June 1985; letter of congratulations on the award of his M.B.E. from General Sir Frank Kitson, G.B.E., K.C.B., M.C., Commander in Chief, United Kingdom Land Forces, dated 1st June 1985; letter of congratulations on the award of his M.B.E. from Major General J.A.C.G. Eyre, C.V.O., C.B.E., Headquarters, London District, dated 11th June 1985; letter of congratulations on the award of his M.B.E. from Brigadier D.H. B-H-Blundell, Chief of Staff for Headquarters London District, dated 13th June 1985; letter of congratulations on the award of his M.B.E. from Major General C.E.W. Jones, C.B.E., Ministry of Defence Director General of Territorial Army and Organisation, dated 17th June 1985; letter of congratulations on the award of his M.B.E. from Major General R. Benbow, Signal Officer in Chief for the Army, dated 17th June 1985; letter of congratulations on the award of his M.B.E. from Major General J.M.W. Badcock, C.B., M.B.E., Master of Signals, dated 13th June 1985; letter from Major General D.H.G. Rice, C.V.O., C.B.E., acknowledging the receipt for the Warrant of Appointment for the M.B.E., dated 8th November 1985; forwarding letter for the Warrant of Appointment for the M.B.E.; and the original Royal Mint presentation case for the M.B.E.; an original photograph of Warde together with Field Marshall Montgomery inspecting a piece of military equipment, which was presumably belonging to 617 Assault Squadron, this image having been passed by censor on 26th February 1945; and a hand drawn image of one of Hobert's Funnies - a Churchill tank converted into an Assault Vehicle Royal Engineers which fired flying dustbins, this being apparently due to an annotation - the one commanded by Captain A.H. Warde, Royal Engineers.

Together with the following quantity of books which accompany the group: 1) original History of the 79th Armoured Division, as published in 1945 in hardback, this being Warde's personal signed copy, and he is personally mentioned in the history; 2) Churchill's Secret Weapons - The History of Hobart's Funnies by Patrick Delaforce, paperback; 3) And We Shall Shock Them - The British Army in the Second World War, by David Fraser, hardback, first edition published 1983, this being Warde's personal signed copy; 4) One More River - The Rhine Crossings of 1945, written by Peter Allen, hardback, first edition published 1990, this being Warde's personal copy and a gift to him; 5) Blowing Our Bridges - A Memoir from Dunkirk to Korea via Normandy, by Major General Tony Younger, hardback, first edition published 2004; 6) 79th Armoured Division - Hobo's Funnies by Nigel Duncan, hardback, first edition published 1972; 7) The Mulberry Harbours, by Sir Bruce G. White, K.B.E., Brigadier, late Director of Ports and Inland Water Transport, War Office, this being a 15 page pamphlet.

Together with a large quantity of bound research concerning the 'Armoured Engineers in Battle - this being the Operations of 617 Assault Squadron, Royal Engineers, formerly 201 East Lancashire Field Company, Royal Engineers, during the period October 1944 to May 1945, as compiled and written by Major R.E. Ward, R.E., who was formerly 2nd in command of 617 Assault Squadron from 1943 to 1945; another similar bound document, being the history of the 42nd Armoured Regiment and its Predecessors by Major R.E. Ward, R.E., and another titled 42nd Assault Regiment Royal Engineers at the Liberation of Le Havre 10th to 12th September 1944, by Major R.E. Ward, R.E.; and then a quantity of loose paperwork concerning further research into the 617 Assault Squadron.     

Ambrose Harry Warde was born in Burton-on-Trent, Staffordshire, on 23rd August 1921, and educated at Bradfield School, then going on to read Engineering at Birmingham University, he later moved to Ramsey in Huntingdonshire, where he lived with his mother, a Mrs Warde, at Bodsey House, his mother becoming President of the Huntingdonshire Federation of Women's Institutes, being well known throughout the county for her musical and dramatical abilities, and would later become head of the Huntingdonshire, Cambridgeshire and Isle of Ely Women's Land Army during the war. With the outbreak of the Second World War, Warde was granted a wartime commission in 1941, joining as a 2nd Lieutenant (No.34859) the Royal Engineers. Warde was posted to the 201st East Lancashire Field Company, which was part of the 42nd Assault Regiment.

This unit was a part of the Territorial Army, and formed part of the 42nd Armoured Division from 1941 until 1943 when the Division was disbanded, being predominantly involved in training in mobile operations, notably bridging and mine warfare. By October 1943 the unit was reorganised into a Headquarters Squadron, and two Field Squadrons - the 16th and 617th which had previously been known as the 200th and 201st Field Companies, Warde having been in the latter, now found himself part of the 617th Assault Squadron as it was designated , and the unit then moved to Aldeburgh in Suffolk where it was soon joined by the 222nd Field Company from the disbanding 47th London Division, and the 557th Field Company from the disbanding 55th West Lancashire Division, thus bring the 42nd Assault Regiment up to strength with four Assault Squadron's each to consist of four Troops of six Churchill Assault Vehicles R.E., known as 'A.V.R.E.', the Regiment then consisted of a total of 104 A.V.R.E.'s. The Regiment now formed part of the 1st Assault Brigade commanded by Brigadier G.L. Watkinson, in the 79th Armoured Division, commanded by Major General P.C.S. Hobart. The 42nd Assault Regiment which was otherwise known as 42nd Armoured Engineer Regiment, was commanded by Lieutenant Colonel R.L. Willott, with the 2nd in Command being Major J.F.D. Savage, however things changed just prior to D-Day, with Willott going on to being C.R.E. of the 50th Division. Major J.O.M. Alexander, M.C., was appointed the commanding officer of 617 Assault Squadron till December 1944, being superseded by Major P.B. Dunham, who commanded through to May 1945.  

The A.V.R.E.'s were Churchill tanks especially adapted to carry bridges, fanciness, and other devices, and were armed with a spigot mortar known as a "Petard" which could fire a 40lb charge of explosives about 80 yards against concrete defences or obstacles, the purpose being to carry out demolition work of which the standard tank armaments were not capable. In addition to the "Petard" bombs, known as "flying dustbins", they carried a quantity of General Wade hand-placed charges for use dismounted under the "Demolition NCO" who formed a sixth member of the crew. The Churchill was a five man tank so the Demolition NCO's were very cramped and blind until they did have to get out. Altogether the A.V.R.E.'s carried about half a ton of High Explosive - a very dangerous load. The A.V.R.E.'s were the brain child of Major General Sir Percy C.S. Hobart, K.B.E., C.B., D.S.O., M.C. and were nicknamed 'Hobart's Funnies'.

With the invasion of Normandy in June 1944, Warde who had been by now promoted to War Substantive Lieutenant and temporary Captain was present with his regiment equipped with Hobart's Funnies, and landed at Sword Beach on 17th August 1944, being then present during the fighting for the liberation of the port of Le Havre which occurred from 10th to 12th September 1944. Warde was commanding No.3 Troop, and had experimented with sights for the petards, attempting to zero the sights by setting out targets of petrol tins at distances up to 100 yards. And it was here at Le Havre that No.3 Troop did stirling work under Warde's leadership. The port of Le Havre was manned by a large garrison and fortified with anti-tank ditches, pillboxes equipped with machine guns and approaches sown with more than 1000 mines, and had one of the strongest defences in the Atlantic Wall.

The task for the Funnies at Le Havre was to remove the obstacles and defences which were remarkably similar to those we had been practising on in England. A total of eleven gaps had to be made through the deep minefields, six of them to cross a wide deep ditch as well. These were to be made in 'lanes' by combined teams of flails and A.V.R.E.'s in exactly the way the Regiment had been rehearsing back in Suffolk throughout the winter and spring of 1943 to 1944. In addition some A.V.R.E.'s and Crocodiles would have to go through these lanes to reduce the strong points before the infantry, some of whom would follow in the kangaroos while others preferred to go through on foot. The whole process of reconnaissance, planning, and deployment of this specialised armour was co-ordinated by HQ 30th Armoured Brigade under Brigadier Nigel Duncan and although it was the regiment's first operation it all seemed to go like clockwork, in fact until the shots began to fly it all seemed very much like another exercise, especially as the enemy remained so quiet and had absolutely no air force at his disposal as we were by now over 300 miles behind the main battle front in Belgium and Holland. Le Havre had been bypassed by the advancing armies.

617 Assault Squadron was not tasked with working on the Lanes - their A.V.R.E.'s were held back to go through and Petard the strong points, together with the Crocodiles, Churchill Gun Tanks, and Infantry, some carried in Kangaroos and some on foot. No.3 Troop was tasked to support the 2nd Battalion Glosters being given the assault lane 'Mary Green'. The troop also carried fanciness and towed sledges with sleepers and bundles in case of unforeseen obstacles. Warde found that the Lane was not quite through and the Flails were held up so he decided to rush the last bit of the minefield and chance his luck. He took half his Troop forward in line ahead in the order 3C, 3A, 3B. 3C hit a mine and was immobilised. No-one was seriously injured and there was no fire. Warde thereupon decided to dodge round the knocked out A.V.R.E again chancing his arm with the mines and ordered 3Baker to follow him, this being something that Warde had brought off successfully in a live minefield while training in Suffolk the previous winter and it worked again. 3A with Warde in it, and 3B Petarded the fortified houses and as Crocodile - flamethrower tank - joined in. The "Croc" was on the left of Warde's 3A in the centre, and 3B on the right, with all their "Besas" firing well and 75 yards from the strongpoint, a collection of houses, comprising one small, and one large, they halted and then 3B Petarded the small house, while 3A Petarded the big house, with the "Croc" squirting flame into the big house. There was no sign of resistance and the force ceased fire and rallied. The next target was about 300 yards to the right but the light was failing. 3A and 3B advanced with some Infantry tanks, all "Besas" firing and some 6 pounder fire at about 150 yards. A and B went forward to about 75 yards and opened up with Petards. It was an emplacement, it seemed lifeless, and the infantry soon consolidated it. A good press photo of 3 Troop next to this strong point is featured in the 79th Divisional History on page 106.

The night of the 10th to 11th the force harboured in a wood and were mortared and shelled until daylight, being hit a number of times, but no real damage was done, the Troop spent the night talking and smoking. With daylight, the Troop having refuelled and rearmed, it moved out of the wood and into the open near a big Chateau, with a formation of 150 Lancasters and Halifaxes flying over them and then bombing Le Havre. That day the Troop had a number of false alarms but were generally 'swanning around and looking for the enemy. Having harboured again for the night, and listened to a continuous machine gun battle of Brens versus Spandaus. The 12th September saw the final assault on Le Havre involved an assault over the southern plateau, and No.3 Troop went forward with six A.V.R.E.'s. Quite soon after starting Warde saw that there was an 88mm anti-tank gun just over the crest on the left and he called to 'OB' a tank and crew lent from HQ due to the loss of 3C in the minefield on the 10th, to get of the skyline. OB under a Lieutenant White had already managed to hit a 50cm PAK gun. OB attempted to turn rather than to reverse back and so they go a direct hit in the flank, caught fire and almost immediately exploded, all being killed. Warde quickly summed up the situation and decided to go round in the lower ground below the crest. This time he adopted a narrower formation, working by half Troops as the Dog half under Lieutenant Glibbery had now rejoined. Thus deployed they took on the machine gun posts in the steel cupolas. There were very strong tank turrets and some of the Petard bombs did not penetrate, but despite this the defenders soon gave up. After the machine guns had gone, the Infantry took the anti tank positions and soon the whole plateau was consolidated.

Warde was awarded the Military Cross for his conspicuous gallantry and great initiative at Le Havre from 10th to 12th September 1944, the award being published in the London Gazette for 21st December 1944, and the recommendation reads as follows: 'This officer commanded his Troop during the operation starting 10th September, for the capture of Le Havre with conspicuous gallantry and great initiative. He got through the initial minefield with only one other AVRE besides his own but he immediately headed it full speed for the nearest enemy strongpoint, which was holding up the infantry. An anti tank gun was silenced before it could open fire, as were several machine guns. Immediately after this Captain Warde led his two AVRE and one Crocodile to another enemy post which was silenced by petard fire and flame. On the third and last day of the action Captain Warde with his Troop in conjunction with an Infantry Company carried out a most successful operation around the edge of the plateau on the south east outskirts of Le Havre, which resulted, after liberal use of petard bombs, in the position surrendering. During this Op the AVRE were up to 200 yards ahead of the Infantry and had no support form other guns or tanks. It was the speed with which this operation was concluded that enabled other formations to advance into the town.'

Shortly after the surrender, the Regiment moved back to its original harbour at Hermeville, before moving to Ybleron near Yvetot and remained several weeks resting and refitting while the transport was taken to move stores up to Belgium for the next stage. Though no other mention is given than in a letter believed to be from his local Member of Parliament, and dated 11th Janaury 1945, Warde may well have also been wounded during the operations at Le Havre or else at some time later during the advance through Belgium and the low countries, however this was not too serious as he was certainly back in action in March 1945.

617 Assault Squadron's next major operation was the crossing of the Rhine on 23rd to 24th March 1945. Though Warde was not decorated for this action, he nevertheless played a most important part. His local newspaper - a cutting from which - gives the story under the title - Ramsey M.C. takes Lead - First Raft Over Rhine: 'Captain A. H. Warde, M.C., of Bodsey House, Ramsey, Hunts., now serving with 617 Assault Squadron, R.E., got into action across the Rhine on the first raft capable of carrying tanks across the river. Under shellfire from the Germans Captain Warde's sappers worked on through the night of 23rd - 24th March, when the great 21 Army Group attack was launched, and completed their raft at six in the morning. By nine o'clock the first armoured vehicles were being taken across. The R.E.'s worked within 200 yards of the bank of the river. Mortar bombs were falling around them when they began work on their raft. One Sapper was killed within the first few minutes. For three days the R.E.'s continued on their task of building up our armour on the east side of the Rhine, during which time they were under shellfire. Captain Warde won the M.C. at Le Havre in fierce tank fighting when he closed in on German pillboxes and destroyed them at close range. Mrs. Warde, who recently resigned the Presidency of Hunts Federation of Women's Institutes is well-known throughout the County for her musical and dramatic abilities. She has rendered excellent services in organising the Hunts, Cambridge, and Isle of Ely Women's Land Army.'

As mentioned in this article, Warde was in thd first armoured vehicle to cross the Rhine on the 24th March 1945, but he went on to distinguish himself further on the night of the 16th to 17th April 1945 during the action fought in and around Otterlo when serving in support of the 5th Canadian Armoured Division. On the evening of the 16th, the 617th Assault Squadron was in harbour about 1 1/2 miles east of Otterlo, but during the night considerable small arms fire could be heard coming from Otterlo and most of the Squadron was stood to during the night. At 0615 a report came through from a neighbouring unit that the enemy had attacked Otterlo in strength, and had run over a Field Battery and a Company of the Canadian Irish Rifles, and were then fighting in an amongst other units in Otterlo, and they were also advancing up the road leading to the Squadron's harbour. 3 Troop commanded by Warde was immediately ordered to go down the road towards Otterlo to stop the enemy and give what help they could to the units in Otterlo.

The following is Wade's personal account of the action: 'I was awakened by the OC at approx 0615 on 17 April 1945 and informed that the enemy had attacked Otterlo and cut the main axis of the 5th Canadian Armoured Division and were advancing down the axis in the direction of our harbour. He told me to get my troop up the road to meet the enemy as soon as possible. I at once roused the whole troop who were in bed, and in approximately 8 minutes, 3A, B, and C were moving up the road towards Otterlo. The second half troop followed a few minutes later as 3F had to drop a fasciae it was carrying. As we moved up the road petards were cocked and Besas loaded. About 500 yards up the road we ran into approximately a platoon of the enemy coming down the road and through the woods on either side. We at once opened fire with our Besas and advanced towards them. The enemy were taken completely by surprise and tried to give up, but we had no infantry with us and were unable to take prisoners. Those that were not killed by Besa fire were killed by 3 grenades thrown from the tanks as we passed them and by AVRE commanders firing their pistols. We pushed a further 800 yards up the road and reached the outskirts of Otterlo giving the enemy, who were fairly thick on the ground, the same treatment all the way. In the village we used our Petards to good advantage against enemy occupied houses and large groups of the enemy in the open. While the other five AVRE's carried on clearing up any enemy that could be seen, I contacted a Sherman troop commander in one of the houses, and asked if he knew anything about the situation, but he knew nothing and directed me to a house a little further up the road to where I could find a Company Commander of the Canadian Irish Rifles. I got back into my tank and with the rest of the Troop following behind me, all still firing, moved up the road. As I crossed a gap of about 70 yards between two houses, I received four direct hits which I think, was 75mm HE from enemy guns in the wood on our right. One of the hits was on my sand shields and turned them into a mess of twisted metal which completely jammed my turret. I stopped the rest of the Troop, and myself moved up under cover of a house.

Once under cover I order the Troop to stay where they were, keeping a sharp lookout while I contacted the Company HQ of the Canadian Irish Rifles. My own crew baled out and set to with spanners and removed the sand shields from my tank under rather spasmodic machine gun and sniper fire. All the gaps between the houses were covered by enemy machine guns, but by crawling on my stomach in these gaps, I eventually reached the Company Commander's HQ. The Company seemed to know nothing about the situation at all so I went with him to see the Battalion Commander where I was very well received but found that they too knew little more than I did. I told the Battalion Commander about my being hit by the 75mms and he told me that they were where I expected. Also out in the same direction just in front of the wood there was a Battery of 25 pounders which had been overrun and were in the hands of the enemy, so we quickly made a plan whereby the AVRE's were to support two companies of the infantry to recapture the guns and clear the wooded area. While I was away from the Troop, I lost one AVRE, 3C by a grenade being lobbed in through the turret killing the Commander and wounding 3 of the crew. This AVRE was driven back to the Squadron Harbour by the driver, unguided, where the casualties were dealt with. After about quarter of an hour the troops for the attack on the wood were assembled in the village and we moved out between the houses and across about 500 yards of open plough to where the 25 pounder Battery was. The enemy had by now been completely demoralised and showed little fight, many of them were run over by the AVRE's as they tried to get back  to the cover of the wood.

On the edge of the wood the five AVRE's halted and two salvos of Petards were fired at maximum elevation into the wood, after which the Infantry went in. A return visit to the wood after the battle showed that the effect of the Petard salvos had been very considerable and had killed many of the enemy. One lucky shot had landed on one of the 75 mm guns and completely wrecked it. During the advance across the open country to the wood, the 75 mm guns were not firing, in fact they were trying to pull out, but they did not succeed. The enemy who had attacked Otterlo are though to have numbered a 1000 and were the remains of two Divisions driven from Appeldorn. They were very heavily armed with LMGs, Panzer-fausts and grenades and also had quite a few Russian heavy machine guns on wheels. Our own troops in Otterlo consisted of 5th Canadian Armoured Division HQ, 1st Battalion Canadian Irish Rifles, 1 Squadron of Sherman tanks, 2 Battery's of 25 pounders, and 1 Battery of 55 Mediums. When the AVRE's reached Otterlo none of these troops seemed to be putting up any form of organised resistance as most of them had been overrun by the enemy.'

Warde gained a very hard earned Second Award Bar to the Military Cross for this action in restoring the situation in Otterlo - a truly incredible feet considering the circumstances and number of the enemy. The award was published in the London Gazette for 11th October 1945, and the recommendation reads as follows: 'On the night of 16/17 April 1945, 617 Assault Squadron, Royal Engineers, were harboured about 2 miles east of Otterlo. Considerable enemy activity had been heard during the night and at 0615 hours 17 April, it was reported that the enemy had attacked Otterlo with a force composed of elements of 4 Battalions and had succeeded in penetrating the defences, were fighting in the midst of other units in the village and were working up the road towards the 617 Squadron harbour. Captain Warde, with his troop of 6 AVRE's, was immediately despatched with orders to stop the enemy and give what help he could in the village. He led his troop towards the village and met the enemy advancing up the road within 800 yards of his unit lines. Without hesitation his troop rushed the enemy force, firing Petard and Besas and killing all Germans in sight. He then continued into the village and along the Appeldorn Road, engaging enemy infantry enrolee and relieved the over-run field Battery and "B" Company, Irish Regiment of Canada, whose position was then very serious. He then made contact with Commanding Officer of the Irish Regiment and in co-operation with them and using the full fire power of the troop they were able to clear the enemy from the village. Before and throughout the operation, Captain Warde had no information about the enemy or the general situation. His coolness and the very prompt action he took on his own initiative, this despite the fact that the AVRE tank has no weapon that can engage enemy tanks, proved a decisive factor in relieving the serious situation that had beset the units in Otterlo. Throughout he displayed outstanding gallantry and led and handled his troop with remarkable skill, dash and efficiency. His own tank was hit three times by shell fire or panzer faust without serious damage. During this sharp action that lasted approximately one hour, his troop accounted for an estimated total of 75 to 100 Germans killed or wounded, and played an important part in routing the enemy.'

With the cessation of hostilities, Warde was granted a regular commission in the rank of Lieutenant on 29th December 1945, and his service after the war included tours at Sandhurst, the Staff College, and the Ministry of Defence, but having been promoted to Major, he eventually retired from the Army in 1959 and went into farming in Huntingdonshire, as well as becoming an Officer with the Huntingdonshire Division Civil Defence Corps, and attended the Civil Defence Staff College No.436 Senior Officer's Course which he passed out of on 23rd February 1962, and afterwards had the honour of representing the Headquarters of the Huntingdonshire Division in the State funeral procession for the state funeral of the late Rt.Hon. Sir Winston Churchill, K.G., O.M., C.H., on 30th January 1965, and eventually passed the Civil Defence Corps Home Officer Advanced Test on 7th March 1965. However he never entirely left the Army, as from 1971 through to 1985 he became an administrative officer with the Territorial Army, after which he retired.

The recommendation for Warde's award of the Ordinary Member of the Military Division of the Order of the British Empire gives the final details of his military service: 'Major Warde joined the Army with a War Commission in 1941 and served with the Royal Engineers until 1959. He won an MC in the assault on Le Havre in 1944 and a bar to the MC in the follow up from the Rhine crossing in 1945. His service after the war included tours at the Royal Military Academy, Staff College, and Ministry of Defence and concluded with his retirement in 1959. Since 1971 Major Warde has been employed with the Territorial Army as a Permanent Staff Administrative Officer, taking his present post with 39 Signal Regiment in 1974. To this appointment he had contributed skill, knowledge and judgement well beyond that usually found and he is a reference point for other units and departments on procedures and contacts. He has contributed considerably more than his part to the smooth running and social life of the Regiment for the whole of his tour and his influence and interests extend well into the City of London as well as the Ministry of Defence and Territorial Army and Volunteer Reserve Associations.

The Regiment's links with the Worshipful Company of Skinners including social and welfare activities, have been dependent on his initiative and many soldiers are in his debt for this sponsorship. He has been the treasurer of the Warrant Officer's and Sergeant's Mess and has guided them through many social activities to the considerable benefit of the Regiment. Equally the Officer's Mess has received spontaneous support out of duty hours on which it is dependent for smooth running and continuity. Due to the spread of the Regiment from Tunbridge Wells to Dundee he has had to extend his activity as the Senior Administrative Officer to Squadron Supervision in most aspects of voluntary as well as duty tasks. Finally it is as the Commanding Officer's guide in matters outside the routine administrative and manning of the unit that Major Warde has excelled in application of judgement and experience. His combination of knowledge and spontaneity will be sadly missed and he is strongly recommended for an award.

Major A.H. Warde, M.C. and Bar, was appointed to be an Ordinary Member of the Military Division of the Order of the British Empire, M.B.E., in the Queen's Birthday Honours for 15th June 1985. Warde later moved to Surrey where he played an active part in community life, and died aged 89, on 30th July 2011, his obituary being published in The Telegraph on 24th August 2011, he left a wife whom he had married in 1948, Shelagh 'Bunty' Halliday, together with a son and daughter. A picture of him in uniform was published together with his obituary.


13 June 2017