The good Second World War Fall of the low countries retreat to Dunkirk and epic defence of the Ypres-Comines canal zone Company Commander’s Military Cross group awarded to Captain later Lieutenant Colonel W.H. Hyde, M.C., Royal Warwickshire Regiment, who saw service with the 1st/7th Battalion during the retreat from Belgium, when his battalion, as part of the 143rd Brigade, was ordered to defend the Ypres-Comines canal zone. The lives of many thousands rested on the depleted force. The troops withstood the assault of three German Divisions on the 27th and 28th May. This saved 2nd Corps and did much to aid the successful withdrawal of the BEF from Dunkirk. The losses were appalling though. Hyde handled his company with great skill, and was called upon on several occasions to carry out the most difficult tasks. His personal example and coolness under fire has had a remarkable effect on the efficiency of the Company. He later saw service during the North West Europe campaign, and post-war in Malaya during the Malayan Emergency.
Group of 7: Military Cross, GVI 1st type cypher, reverse dated 1940, additionally engraved: ‘Major W. Harwood Hyde. The Royal Warwickshire Regt.’; 1939-1945 Star; France and Germany Star; Defence Medal; War Medal; General Service Medal 1918-1962, GVI 2nd type bust, 1 Clasp: Malaya; (LT COL. W.H. HYDE. M.C. R. WARWICK.); Coronation Medal 1953. Mounted swing style as worn.
Condition: Good Very Fine.
Together with the following:
Recipient’s matching group of miniature medals mounted swing style as worn.
Recipient’s pair of Second World War issue dog tags, affixed to cord for wear around the neck, these stamped: ‘52646 CE W H HYDE’.
Silver hallmarked napkin ring, this engraved with the badge of the Royal Warwickshire Regiment, and inscribed: ‘W.H. Hyde’ and dated ’12.10.32’, possibly the date of his marriage.
William Harwood Hyde was born on 12th October 1911, and was commissioned as a 2nd Lieutenant (No.52646) into the Royal Warwickshire Regiment on 27th August 1931, being promoted to Lieutenant on 27th August 1934 and to Captain on 27th August 1939.
As an officer with the 1st/7th Battalion, serving within the 143rd Infantry Brigade, with the Second World War, he found himself sent to join the British Expeditionary Force over in France and Belgium. With the German invasion of France and the low countries, the 1st/7th Battalion was on service in Belgium, and on 16th May 1940 as the allied line crumbled, they were ordered back. With the Germans advancing in a pincer movement there was a danger that the BEF would be cut off. 143 Brigade (including 1/7th and 8th Battalion) was sent to defend the Ypres-Comines canal zone. The lives of many thousands rested on the depleted force. The troops withstood the assault of three German Divisions on the 27th and 28th May. This saved 2nd Corps and did much to aid the successful withdrawal of the BEF. Just one night made a big difference to the number of men that reached England safely (midnight 28th May 25,000 and 29th May a further 47,300). However, the loss of life amongst the three Battalions was great, on their return to England their combined strength was less than 700 men (about one Battalion).
It was for his gallantry and leadership during the retreat from Belgium to Dunkirk that Hyde won the Military Cross. The recommendation reads as follows: ‘This officer has throughout the retirement from Belgium led his company with great skill. He has been called upon on several occasions to carry out the most difficult tasks, which have always been accomplished successfully. This officer’s personal example and coolness under fire has had a remarkable effect on the efficiency of the Company. He is undoubtedly a leader of great ability.’ Hyde’s award was published in the London Gazette for 3rd September 1940.
Hyde, who clearly made it out via Dunkirk, then went on to see service in North West Europe. The 1/7th Battalion landed in Normandy on the 29th June and took part in the fighting around Caen. The first engagement for the 1/7th was on the 8th July to capture the village of St Contest. It was a hard fought battle as they were up against the first-rate 25th SS Panzer Grenadiers. Even so by 6.30pm they had reached their objective having lost 26 men and 96 wounded. By the end of August the Allies had secured Normandy and the Germans were retreating. The 1/7th were disbanded on the 31st August 1944, the officer’s and men being transferred to other battalion’s to replace losses.
Hyde was promoted to Major on 1st July 1946, and having seen service in Malaya during the Malayan Emergency, was promoted to Lieutenant Colonel on 4th February 1953. Transferred on full pay to the Regular Army Supernumerary List on 4th February 1956, and having exceeded retiring age he was placed on retired pay on 1st January 1960, and then ceased to belong to the Regular Army Reserve of Officers on 11th July 1967, when shown on the list of the Royal Warwickshire Fusiliers, part of the Fusilier Brigade.