Wounded in Action (N.W. Europe 1944-45) - 1st Battalion Worcestershire Regiment
Captain William Speirs (248378)
Rev. William Speirs was appointed as a chaplain to the British Army on the 30th October 1942 (4th Class Royal Army Chaplains’ Dept.). In Normandy he was always close to the men in action. Major D. Y. Watson referred to his actions at Hill 112 as follows; “The Padre, Capt. Speirs, who was most popular with all ranks, had insisted on going with the advanced R.A.P. just short of the crest, and there he did his usual good job of work—he was almost a second M.O.”
Bill recalls how he was wounded in the later stages of the war:
My troubles began at Cleve in the Reichswald. I recall being there, being ‘stonked’ and taking refuge in a cemetery beside a skeleton and falling – being blown over and collapsing into a ditch but wakening to find I had twisted my knee. Doc Chalmers strapped me up and I hobbled around with a stick, then for some reason, we chaplains were summoned to a conference (I can’t remember where) and the Doc advised me to report to a hospital to get the strapping replaced. The Surgeon, with many unkind references to my mental stability, plastered me from ankle to hip, and deported me forthwith; eventually I reached Queen Elizabeth Hospital in Birmingham and several weeks later I got transferred to Edinburgh, having lost all my kit and even identity for I got no vote at the elections and my mother-in-laws neighbour reviled me over the fence for letting Mr. Churchill down!!
Captain William Speirs
V.E Day I spent in bed; except that Mr. C. announced victory, said ‘We can all go home! So I did but was recalled again with unkind words. I would have done anything to rejoin the regiment but was eventually sent to Bulford in Wiltshire (from which the good Lord preserve us) and so to Italy then in post war chaos: but I had quite an interesting two years before demob.
In the Berrow’s Journal on Saturaday the 3rd March 1945, Bill Speirs made this tribute to the courage of the stretcher bearers:
“Though everybody else may be under cover they will go up and get the wounded out. I should say that normally, within ten minutes of being hit a man’s wounds are being dressed, and within half an hour he is on his way back to the Divisional Hospital. That is due to the great courage of the stretcher bearers. The infantryman will tell you that in his opinion every stretcher bearer should have a medal.”
The Chaplains of the 43rd (Wessex) Division at Bayeux (28th July 1944)
Rev. William Speirs can be seen back row far left.