1st Battalion Worcestershire Regiment 1944-45 - Awards and Citations
WS/Lieut., T/Capt., A/Major Peter Geoffrey HALL (148942)
Peter Hall was recommended by Lieut.-Col. M. R. J. Hope-Thomson on the 19th April 1945 for an immediate Distinguished Service Order.
Distinguished Service Order (London Gazette 21st June 1945)
“On 15th Apr 1945, Major HALL was commanding “A” Company 1 WORC. R., which was one of two Companies holding a bridgehead over the stream LETHE, the crossing of which had been earned by assault the previous evening. Shortly after dawn, just as the Battalion was preparing a further attack, a heavy enemy counter attack came in on the “A” Company sector from the woods in front. This attack consisted of two Tiger Tanks in close support of about 300 infantry, with two more tanks echeloned behind. In a short space of time, the Platoon Officer of one of the forward Platoons was killed and the Sergeant in acting command of the other forward Platoon was wounded. The tanks and some of the infantry were right in among our positions and some of our forward troops were forced out of these positions by tank fire. A dangerous situation seemed about to develop. Immediately he had ascertained the situation Major HALL rushed forward, taking over personal command of all troops and siting them in new positions. He repeatedly ran to and fro a hundred yards in front of the leading tank. He threw his Company H.Q., Cooks, Drivers and C.Q.M.S. into the battle.
Major Peter Hall receiving the D.S.O. from 'Monty'
Inspired by his Magnificent example, the Company stood firm, in spite of heavy tank fire from positions concealed from our anti-tank guns. At close range the enemy were engaged by every available Company weapon while Major Hall stood in the open directing fire. The leading enemy infantry were mown down and the attack wavered and broke. Thirty five enemy dead and fifteen wounded were counted on the battlefield and over fifty prisoners taken on the spot, more giving themselves up later. The inspired leadership of Major Hall and the complete disregard he showed for his own safety, was the deciding factor in turning a dangerous local situation into a costly defeat to the enemy.”
Peter Hall born in 1919 at Weston-super-Mare. He was educated at Clifton College, Bristol. As a keen sportsman he excelled in cricket (cricketing wicket-keeper) and hockey, representing Ireland in the latter.
On the 14th September 1940, Peter Hall was commissioned (War Emergency Commission) as 2nd Lieutenant in to the 11th Battalion Worcestershire Regiment. At the time the 11th Battalion was stationed on Hereford racecourse. As a platoon commander (with 32 men) Peter Hall was given the job of defending three miles of coastal defenses north of Great Yarmouth on Caister golf-course.
After the amalgamation of the 11th Battalion with the 1st Battalion Worcestershire Regiment in January 1943, he became the Battalion Weapons Training Officer.
In June 1944, he landed in Normandy with the 1st Battalion. During the first major attack on enemy positions at the village of Mouen, whilst leading a platoon of 'C' Company, he was badly wounded in the left arm, buttock and shoulder. However, he stayed with his men until the action was completed and was eventually evacuated back to England to a Military Hospital in Surrey.
After treatment he was given short leave, after which he was ordered to report to a transit camp at Cowley Barracks, Oxford. Here he was told by the Commandant that his duties were to tour the munitions factories and tell the lady workers how much we, the fighting troops, appreciated their great efforts.
In August 1944 he returned back to France and after passing through a transit camp, eventually returned to the 1st Battalion and reported to Lieutenant Colonel Robert Osborne-Smith who was Commanding Officer. At the time the Battalion was resting at the village of Vernonnet on the east bank of the Seine.
He was promoted to Temporary Captain on 29th September, 1944, and to Acting Major on 9th March, 1945.
He was awarded the D.S.O. for gallantry while commanding 'A' Company of the 1st Battalion at the Ahlhorn Crossroads action in April, 1945, as a very young Acting Major (London Gazette date 21st June 1945). He continued to serve in North West Europe with the 1st Battalion until he was again wounded (in the right eye and ear) at the end of April, 1945, in the Cloppenburg Forest actions during the advance to Bremen.
He was then evacuated to a R.A.P. for treatment and was returned to England, Sussex to the Queen Victoria Hospital in East Grinstead. After minor plastic surgery to his right ear and the right side of his face, he again returned to the 1st Battalion two week before the final surrender of all German forces in NW Europe.
After the war, for the next three years, he became a Tactical Instructor at the newly formed All Arms Rhine Training Centre, Sennelager, B.A.O.R., followed by a further year as a General Staff Officer (Grade 2) GSO2 - a Major, attached to the Armed Service, the Royal Air Force at their HQ at Bückeburg Germany - as an Air Liaison Officer.
He rejoined the 1st Battalion Worcestershire Regiment, in Malaya, in July, 1951, as Company Commander (Temporary Major) of "D” Company, and he was Mentioned in Dispatches for his leadership under enemy fire against the Communist Terrorists on 1st May, 1953.
He was employed with the Military Forces, Malaya, including being a Company Commander in the Malay Regiment (later the Royal Malaysian Regiment) and a Brigade Major in Malaya, from 20th June, 1953, to 17th September, 1956.
He went out to Cyprus at (very!) short notice for the Suez Campaign in 1956 and was appointed Staff Officer GSO2 (Ops/Air) in Cyprus. From 1957 to 1959 he was an instructor and a Company Commander at the Officer Cadet School, Eaton Hall, Chester, and at its later move to Mons O.C.S., Aldershot.
He rejoined the 1st Battalion, then in the Caribbean, in September, 1959, first as Company Commander of “E” Company in Jamaica, subsequently as Company Commander of “D” Company at Nassau, Bahamas, and then as Second-in-Command of the Battalion.
He returned from the Caribbean with the 1st Battalion in March, 1960, and continued as Second-in-Command, now at Norton Barracks, Worcester, until assuming Command in succession to Lt. Colonel J. W. B. Stuart, M.B.E., M.C., at Worcester, on 4th July, 1961.
He took the 1st Battalion out to the Caribbean once more—this time to British Honduras (now Belize) for internal security duties in connection with the disastrous “Hurricane Hattie”— in early November, 1961, returning with the Battalion just in time for Christmas at Worcester. He took the 1st Battalion out to Minden, Germany in December, 1962, where he commanded it in 11 Infantry Brigade, 2nd Infantry Division.
Lieut.-Colonel Hall’s next appointment was Commandant at the Jungle Warfare School, Johore Bahru, Malaya, in March 1963 which was also involved in the conflict in Borneo.
In November 1967 after 27 years of eventful professional soldering Colonel Peter Hall D.S.O. finally retired from the army and took up a management training position in the insurance industry.
Colonel Peter Hall died at home on the 21st October 2005 (age 86 ).
His funeral was held on Monday 31st October 2005, at the Worth Crematorium, Balcombe Road, Crawley. The Regiment was represented at the funeral by Brigadier Pat Hargrave (a former Colonel of the 1st Battalion), Colonel Peter Holmes and Major Leslie Barron. Major Johnnie Davies (Canadian Officer) who served as a platoon commander in Colonel Hall's Company in WW2 gave an address at the funeral.
Peter Hall was also recommended for an immediate Military Cross by Lieut.-Col. M. R. J. Hope-Thomson but this was never approved due to the fact that he was also recommended for a an immediate Distinguished Service Order only 2 weeks later. It was therefore agreed only to issue the higher of the two awards and so received the Distinguished Service Order.
Citation which was issued for the Military Cross recommendation:
“Major P. G. Hall was commanding 'A' Coy when it was ordered on 27th March 1945, to capture VEHLINGER BIRGE a feature which dominates the NORTH part of the autobahn running to EMMERICH.
Major HALL attacked on a two Platoon front moving himself immediately in rear of the forward Platoons. Soon after crossing the Start Line the attacking troops came under very heavy and accurate Machine Gun fire from concealed positions. Severe casualties were suffered including one of the Platoon Commanders. The action of the supporting tanks was largely neutralised by bad ground preventing their movement. Major HALL refused to be deterred by these circumstances and taking direct control over the forward troops took them first to gain their objective, capturing or killing about twenty five enemy. Mortar and shell fire began to come down on the captured position but Major HALL, with complete disregard for his own safety and taking no cover, walked about for a quarter of an hour supervising consolidation. At about this time the Company 2 i/c was killed and the CSM also became a casualty. Major HALL crossing open ground still under observed spandau fire from the flank returned to bring up his Company HQ himself. He then ordered his reserve Platoon to clean up the enemy resistance on the flank, cleverly co-ordinating the attack with tank support, and accompanying the Platoon on to its objective, which was gained.
Again Major HALL noticed some of his men lying wounded in the open in an area still known to be under enemy Machine Gun fire from an unallocated position. Calling for a volunteer, Major HALL went out and himself with the assistance of the other man, brought in one of the wounded. This example so encouraged those who saw it that all the wounded were soon brought to cover. Throughout an exceptionally difficult and costly action lasting over three hours the magnificent leadership and careless bravery of Major HALL must be counted as the major factor in the success of the important operation, both because of his tactical skill and the very great, inspiration and effect on the morale of his men which has been confirmed from many sources.”
Medals of Lieut.-Colonel Peter Geoffrey Hall, D.S.O.