Major Reginald Mowlam Tarrant
Unit : "B" Company, 13th Parachute Battalion
Army No. : 58149
Awards : Military Cross
"Reggie" Tarrant was born in Dorsetshire in 1913, the son of Reginald Frederick and Nellie Dorothy Tarrant. He was commissioned as a Second Lieutenant into the Dorset Regiment during the 1930's, and was promoted to full Lieutenant on the 2nd February 1936. He took up a posting as a Staff Officer to the local forces of British Guiana on the 14th July 1939 and was promoted to Captain on the 2nd February 1941. He volunteered for the Airborne Forces in 1943 and attended parachute course No.81 at RAF Ringway from the 6th to 16th September; his instructors comments were, "A little awkward at first, but improved and jumped really well." Promoted to Major, he was given command of Headquarters Company in the newly formed 13th Parachute Battalion.
Major Tarrant parachuted into Normandy on the 6th June 1944. In July, he was given command of "B" Company after Major Bristow had been wounded. On the 17th August 1944, the 6th Airborne Division began its eastwards advance, and by the early hours of the 19th, the 3rd Parachute Brigade had secured crossings over the River Dives allowing the 5th Parachute Brigade to advance through them to secure the ground around Putot-en-Auge. Despite numerous difficulties, the 7th Battalion successfully occupied a flanking position, and by early morning the 12th Battalion had overcome the resistance in the village. The 13th Battalion then passed through them and were confronted with the daunting prospect of advancing across three-quarters of a mile of open ground to secure Hill-13, the high ground to the east of Putot-en-Auge. Major Tarrant and "B" Company led the way, but despite a few casualties the Battalion reached the foot of the hill without too much incident. "B" Company advanced up the hill with fixed bayonets and overcame several pockets of resistance, but just short of their objective on the summit they were met with heavy machine-gun fire from a recently reinforced enemy and suffered many casualties. Major Tarrant, to the fore of the charge, was seriously wounded in the stomach, but did what he could to command his Company until he was eventually evacuated. With "B" Company pinned down, "A" and "C" Companies attempted to break the deadlock but were unable to make any headway. The Germans subsequently counter-attacked but, with the aid of artillery fire, were decisively beaten off and abandoned the hill during the night.
Major Tarrant died of his wounds on the 28th August 1944, aged 31. He is buried at La Deliverande War Cemetery, plot VI.B.10. For his actions on Hill 13, he was awarded the Military Cross:
On Saturday 19th August, "B" Company commanded by Major Tarrant was the advanced Company ordered to lead the battalion under fire across exposed country into Putot en Auge and so to an objective on a hill beyond. Leading his Company with great personal dash he got them across the open country and attacked the first ridges of the hill. This he captured and advanced at once to attack the final ridge. He personally led the charge for the top of this hill showing extraordinary leadership and dash and was seriously wounded in the stomach when on the crest of the hill. Although in great pain he continued to give directions for the attack until he was evacuated. His leadership and dash were an inspiration and encouragement to his men and in the finest traditions of the Parachute Regiment.
Major Tarrant left a wife, Noreen, of Parkstone, Dorsetshire.
My thanks to Bob Hilton for this account.
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