James Hill (British Army Officer)
Brigadier Stanley James Ledger Hill DSO & Two Bars, MC (14 March 1911 – 16 March 2006) was an officer in the British Army who served as commander of the 3rd Parachute Brigade of 6th Airborne Division during the Second World War. Born in Bath, Somerset, Hill was educated at Marlborough College and Royal Military Academy Sandhurst before joining the British Army in 1931 and being commissioned into the Royal Fusiliers. He commanded a platoon for a short period, and was then attached to the command post of Field Marshal Lord Gort during the Battle of France, where he oversaw the evacuation of Brussels as well as the beach at De Panne during the evacuation of Dunkirk. After a brief period of time in the Irish Free State, he volunteered for parachute training and joined the 1st Parachute Battalion, and was its commanding officer when its parent formation, 1st Parachute Brigade, was deployed to North Africa.
Hill commanded the battalion during its first airborne operation in North Africa, dropping near the towns of Souk el-Arba and Béja, in Tunisia. It secured Beja and then sent out patrols to harass German troops, ambushing a convoy and inflicting numerous German casualties, and defended a bridge at Medjez el Bab, although it was eventually forced to retreat. Hill was wounded during an attack by the battalion on Gue Hill, in which he attempted to capture three Italian tanks using his revolver; the crews of two were successfully subdued without incident, but the third opened fire and hit Hill in the chest several times. He was awarded the Distinguished Service Order (DSO) and Légion d'Honneur for his service in North Africa and then evacuated back to England. There he took command of 3rd Parachute Brigade in the newly formed 6th Airborne Division, and jumped with the brigade during Operation Tonga, the British airborne landings in Normandy on the night of 5/6 June. After nearly being killed on 6 June by an aircraft strafing his position, Hill commanded the brigade throughout the rest of the time it was in Normandy, once leading a counter-attack during a German assault and later winning the first bar to his DSO.
The division was withdrawn to England in September 1944, but briefly served in the Ardennes in December during the Battle of the Bulge. Hill then commanded 3rd Parachute Brigade during Operation Varsity, the Allied airborne assault over the River Rhine, where he was nearly killed by a glider containing his own personal Jeep. He then commandeered a motorcycle and rode alongside the brigade as 6th Airborne Division advanced from the Rhine to the River Elbe, at the end of which he was awarded a second bar to his DSO as well as the American Silver Star. After the war, he was briefly military governor of Copenhagen, for which he was awarded the King Haakon VII Liberty Cross, and also raised and commanded the 4th Parachute Brigade (Territorial Army). Retiring from the Army in 1949, he became involved in a number of charities and businesses before dying on 16 March 2006.
Other related articles:
... In May 1945 Hill served as military governor of Copenhagen, for which he was awarded the King Haakon VII Liberty Cross, and then assumed command of 1st Parachute Brigade and oversaw its demobilisation ... He retired from the British Army in July 1945, although he continued to serve as an officer in the Territorial Army, raising the 4th Parachute Brigade (Territorial Army) in 1947 and serving as its commanding officer until 1949 ...
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