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Maj Gen Gerard William "Bill" Egerton Heath CBE DSO MC (1899-1980)

Born: 17 March 1897 and died 13 July 1980.

Son of: Major-General Sir Gerard Moore Heath (1863-1929) and Mary Egerton (18??-1954).

Brother of: Mary Moore Marjoribanks Hall (nee Heath, 1894-19??) who married 1st Maj James MacNeece (18??-1916) and 2nd Col Robert Lionel Hall (1898-19??).

Bill married:
1st Hilda Mary Holdsworth (1899-19??).
2nd Gwendda Curtis nee Evans.

Mary and Hilda had issue:
1. Valerie Bell (nee Heath, 1924-1998) who married 1st John McConnell (born 1916) and 2nd Michael Bell (born 1916).
2. Priscilla Howes (nee Heath, born 1925) who married Rear Admiral Peter Howes (1916-1983).


 

Maj Gen Gerard William "Bill" Heath CBE DSO MC: An Overview

We know about Gerard from the following sources:

1. Entry in the book "Records of the Heath Family Vol 2" by George Heath, 1920.
2. His medals that were sold in 2004.

The entry in Records of the Heath Family Vol 2, page 58, reads as follows:

LIEUT. GERARD WILLIAM EGERTON HEATH, M.C., R.H.A.

Educated at Wellington college and Royal Military Academy, Woolwich.

Entered the war in France as 2nd Lieut., R.F. Artillery, in May, 1915, aged 18 years 2 months; joined 5th Division near Ypres, subsequently moved with his Division to Arras, then to Sussaune on Somme; subsequently took part in the long fought battle of the Somme in the summer of 1916, and saw much fighting, notably at Delville Wood, where, for his courage and skill as observation officer in the front trenches, he was given an "immediate" reward of "Military Cross."

 Soon after this he was severely wounded while taking a telephone up to the front lines at the battle of Fiers, Sept., 1916, and was invalided home. Returned later to France, joined the intelligence branch at General Head Quarters, and afterwards became an Instructor at the First Army Artillery School with the acting rank of Captain, where he remained till the end of the war. He left the Artillery School during the Armistice, and was posted to a Field Battery of the First Army. He returned to England in the spring of 1919, and was posted to the Royal Horse Artillery depot at Woolwich, where he now is.

His medals consisted of: 
Companion of the Order of the Bath (CB)
Commander of the Order of the British Empire (CBE)
Distinguished Service Order (1945)
Military Cross (1916)
1914-15 Star
British War Medal 1914-18
Victory Medal
1939-45 Star
France and Germany Star
Defence Medal
British War Medal 1939-45
Coronation Medal 1953

CB: London Gazette 1 January 1949. New Year's Honours List.

CBE: London Gazette 1 February 1945. 'In recognition of gallant and distinguished services in North West Europe.'

DSO: London Gazette 11 October 1945. 'In recognition of gallant and distinguished services in North West Europe. Brigadier Heath has been Corps Commander, Royal Artillery, 12 Corps, throughout all operations during the past winter. His handling of the Corps of Artillery has proved to be a winning factor in all these battles. In particular he was faced with a most intricate problem in the assault crossing of the River Rhine. Here, apart from the normal support necessary for this Corps, he had also to provide support for XVIII U.S. Airborne Corps, a most difficult task. This he achieved with the greatest success and undoubtedly, by his fire plan for support, saved the airborne troops considerable casualties. The secret of Brigadier Heath's success is largely due to the fact that he himself was consistently forward with the leading troops, carrying out personal reconnaissances.'

MC: London Gazette 14 November 1916. 'For conspicuous gallantry in action. As observation officer he carried out his work under very heavy fire with great courage and ability.'

MID: London Gazette 20 December 1940. 'In recognition of distinguished services in connection with operations in the field March - June 1940.'

Educated at Wellington College, then Royal Military Academy Woolwich. Commissioned Royal Artillery.

1915; served European War, 1915-18 (wounded).

War of 1939-45 (dispatches, 1940);
CRA 43rd Div., 1942-44; CCRA 12 Corps, 1944-45; CCRA 1st Airborne Corps, 1945.

Commandant Sch. Of Artillery, Larkhill, 1945-47; GOC 1st Anti-Aircraft Group, 1947-49; GOC Troops, Malta, 1949-51. Pres. Regular Commissions Board, 1951-54, retired Nov. 1954. Col Comdt RA and Royal Malta Artillery, 1955, RHA 1957.

He lived at Westbrook Farm, Avebury.