Brigadier Hugh Bellamy in Hamminkeln during Operation Varsity

Brigadier Bellamy with Field Marshal Montgomery

Brigadier Robert Hugh Bellamy


Unit : 6th Airlanding Brigade.

Army No. : 47518

Awards : Commander of the Most Excellent Order of the British Empire, Distinguished Service Order and Bar, Mentioned in Despatches


Hugh Bellamy was born on the 8th December 1910, the son of Lieutenant-Colonel Robert Bellamy. He was educated at Sherborne School and later the Royal Military College, Sandhurst. Bellamy was commissioned into the Duke of Cornwall's Light Infantry in 1930, and served in France in 1940, where he was Mentioned in Despatches. In 1944, he commanded the 1st Battalion The Royal Norfolk Regiment, a part of the 185th Infantry Brigade in the 3rd Infantry Division, and landed on Sword Beach on the 6th June. He continued to command the Battalion throughout the Normandy campaign, receiving the Distinguished Service Order from Field Marshal Montgomery on the 14th November 1944.


On the 19th January 1945, he took over command of the 6th Airlanding Brigade during the closing phases of their participation in the Ardennes campaign. It was said that his hearty laugh and irrepressible sense of humour soon made him known throughout the Division, and it did not take people long to discover that this was his cover for an unstoppable and indefatigable determination. This was especially true where the welfare of his men was concerned, as his last thought was for himself, but he was "loud and clear" to those above to see that his Brigade got a fair deal. In battle, it was noted that the more difficult the situation became the more Bellamy seemed to reach the top of his form, and his sense of the ridiculous invariably prevailed.


On the 24th March 1945, he led the Brigade on Operation Varsity, and was awarded a Bar to the Distinguished Service Order for his conduct on this day and throughout the campaign in Germany. His citation reads:


Brigadier Bellamy commanded the Airlanding Brigade of this division throughout the period under review. The task assigned to his Brigade for the landing East of the Rhine on 24th March was the capture of the vital road centre of Hamminkeln and the seizing and holding of the bridges across the River Issel. Gliders landing in daylight among the enemy guns inevitably suffered casualties. In fact, the Airlanding Brigade's casualties, within 24 hours of landing, were between 20 and 25%. It speaks much for the inspiring leadership of the commander that in spite of these heavy losses, all the Brigades tasks were successfully and rapidly accomplished. Subsequently the Issel bridges were defended with great tenacity. Brigadier Bellamy was constantly in the forefront of the battle. He showed complete contempt for his own safety. His enthusiasm and determination infected his Brigade with the finest offensive spirit.


Throughout the long advance which followed, Brigadier Bellamy continued to command his Brigade with the greatest dash and courage. The Airlanding Brigade never failed in any task assigned to it and performed two especially notable feats of arms. The first was the advance against stiff opposition from the Dortmund-Ems canal through Lengerich to the high ground beyond. The second was the establishment of a bridgehead across the River Weser at Peterhagen. With few boats and no bridge, this was a difficult task. Even when across the river, the Brigade met brisk resistance, including tanks, with few heavy weapons and no tanks of its own. It was largely due to its commander's gallant and determined leadership that the bridgehead was held and expanded.


In both actions, Brigadier Bellamy set a fine example to all ranks. The great successes of his Brigade during this period owed much to his drive and outstanding courage.


After the war, on the 5th December 1945, Brigadier Bellamy took over command of the 1st Parachute Brigade from James Hill. He arrived at Brigade Headquarters a week earlier and, on the 3rd December, attended course B188 at No.1 Parachute Training School, Ringway. He led the 1st Brigade in Palestine throughout 1946, before taking over the 2nd Parachute Brigade in the following year, who, from 1948 to 1950, were stationed with the British Army of the Rhine. From 1950 to 1952 he took up the posting of Deputy Director of Weapons Development at the War Office, thereafter, until 1954, serving as Deputy General Officer Commanding Hong Kong. From 1954 to 1956, he commanded the 41st Division, and was subsequently Chief of Staff with I Corps in Germany until his retirement in 1958. In civilian life, he joined the branch of Hawker Siddeley whose business concerned overseas contracts.


Hugh Bellamy married Kathleen Louisa Isabel Lascelles, the daughter of Sir Alfred George Lascelles and Isabel Carteret Thynne, on the 11th October 1940. They had two children, Vivian Patricia (16th February 1943) and Martin Hugh (21st May 1946), but the couple were divorced in 1953. Hugh Bellamy died on the 27th November 1972.



Much of this article has been compiled from an obituary by General Eric Bols, which appeared in the Pegasus Journal in July 1973, with additional notes by Bob Hilton.


Back to HQ 6th Airlanding Brigade

Back to Biographies Menu