Page 262 - The Rifles Bugle Autumn 2019
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energy to involve themselves in such a life of continuous activity, much of which was voluntary – his spirit was remarkably generous, and his dedication to the DCLI absolute.
We offer our heartfelt condolences to Zoe, his loyal wife for over sixty years and his daughter, Helen, his grandchildren James and Laura and his great grandchildren Henry and Annabel.
SPURRIER The museum has lost a true friend and a generous supporter in the death of Len Spurrier of Yeovil on 28th August 2015 at the age of 92. Len had served in the Royal Navy with the Fleet Air Arm during the war. On leaving the service in 1951 he developed an avid fascination with military history inspite of having no army connection. It was therefore
our good fortune that many years
ago he happened to call in at our
Museum, making himself known to the
Regimental Secretary. The two quickly
realised that in matters of military
history they were kindred spirits, and from that day was grown
a happy rapport. Even then Len was already suffering from the cruelly debilitating disease of MS, but that did not stop him from making the journey from Yeovil in his specially adapted car, always arriving with a cheerful smile and a parcel of military history books which he had read and passed on to us.
Later as the disease took its inevitable course, Len could no longer drive; however, the parcels of valuable books continued to arrive by post, and a close relationship was maintained by telephone. Inspite of enduring considerable pain he always sounded cheerful. Self-pity was not one of his attributes! Over the years Len donated 193 books to the Museum, quite apart from the considerable financial value of these gifts, they will always remain a testimony to a kind, generous and brave man.
We extend our sincere sympathy to his daughter Naomi and his step children Jenny and Clive
TAYLOR Denis John Taylor died
in the Challanor House Nursing
Home. Although his wartime service encompassed many units, his
real loyalty was to the DCLI and particularly to the London Branch of the Association run by his great friend Dicky Burwood (whose obituary is also printed in this edition of “The Bugle”.
Denis enlisted at Hyde Park Barracks
on 17th July 1941, and carried out
his basic training at one of the Royal
Armoured Corps training regiments. On
completion of sixteen weeks armoured
training he was transferred to the
Gunners and posted to 240 Anti-Aircraft Training Regiment. Then, for the next three years he worked with various anti-aircraft batteries. Shortly after D Day he was again transferred, this time to the infantry, joining the 6th Battalion Royal Scots Fusiliers in Normandy. Transfers from anti-aircraft regiments to the infantry were not uncommon at this time; the threat from the Luftwaffe having become minimal whilst the need to replace heavy infantry casualties was becoming critical. The 15th Scottish Division, of which the 6th Battalion RSF was part was particularly hard hit, having born the brunt of the fighting which established the narrow salient, known as the “Scottish Corridor” which led to the Odon bridgehead and Hill 112.
Denis survived unscathed in all the major actions until being wounded in the final stages of the Rhine crossing on 6th April 1945. After a period in hospital in the UK, his final transfer was to the DCLI. He was posted to the 1st Battalion which was about to embark for
the Middle East, sailing on SS Strathmore on 5th December 1945. On arrival the Battalion became the Demonstration Battalion at the Middle East School of Infantry, based far out in the Palestinian desert. There followed a tour of duty in Jerusalem, the epicentre of the bitter terrorist war being waged between Arabs and Jews who both regarded the British as their enemies. It was a time of danger and frustration for the British soldier who, throughout, lived up to the highest standards of discipline and restraint inspite of continuous incitement.
Denis was finally discharged on 26th April 1946. He immedi- ately joined the London Branch of the DCLI Association which he continued to support until its demise in 2009. He served as a Trooper, Gunner, Fusilier and Private, not a bad record! He took part in some of the toughest fighting in NW Europe and was witness to the bitter hatred between Jews and Arabs, a hatred that was all too often turned on the British soldier.
VIVIAN Major Grahame Vivian, MC* died on 10th July 2015 at the age of ninety-five. Born in Camborne and educated at Repton, where he excelled at boxing, football and cricket, he enrolled at the Camborne School of Mines, with the aim of joining his father’s mining company in Burma and Thailand. War however intervened, and in 1940 he enlisted in the DCLI, being commissioned shortly afterwards. Finding life dull in a UK based battalion, he volunteered for an attachment to the Indian Army; in December 1942, he was posted to the 4/8th Gurkha Rifles which was about to join the battle in the Arakan area of Burma.
On 4th January 1944, whilst commanding a company, he was ordered to infiltrate a feature known as Dhobi Hill which was reported to being only lightly held by the Japanese. During the operation, this proved far from the truth, his company meeting determined opposition. During the prolonged fighting, Vivian was severely wounded in the chest, stomach and arm, but refused all medical aid, inspiring his men to hold their hard-won ground against repeated counter attacks. For this action, he was awarded the first of his Military Crosses. Not expected to survive, he was flown home to England, spending the next two years in hospital in Exeter. Survive he did, being pronounced fit in 1946 and re-joining his old Battalion in Quetta. After Partition, he transferred to the 2nd Goorka Rifles (which became part of the British Army), joining their 2nd Battalion. In 1957, whilst on operations in Malaya, he was awarded his second Military Cross. Working on Special Branch intelligence, he planned and executed an attack on a jungle camp in which many very senior terrorists were gathered for a meeting. Known as Operation Googly, the resulting elimination of these leaders had a profound effect on the terrorist command structure which had far reaching effects on the conduct of the campaign.
Vivian retired from the army in 1959, working for six years with English China Clays in Cornwall. However, the call of action proved too strong, and in 1965 he joined the Sultan of Oman’s Force with whom he served for the next twenty years, being awarded the Sultan’s Distinguished Service Medal.
His true love was always for Cornwall, and in 1983 he was finally able to retire to the family home in Lostwithiel where he cared for his wife, Gwen (Caswell) until her death two years later. In 1996 he married Lorna Kirby, moving to Golant. We extend our sympathy to his widow, Lorna and to his two sons, a daughter and three step-daughters.
WILLCOCKS Sir David Valentine Willcocks, Kt, CBE, MC died on 17th September 2015 at the age of ninety-five.
As a man who stood out as one of the outstanding musicians of his era, he had also served throughout the Second World War as a brave and resourceful soldier, and was a warm, generous and loyal friend to all those who were fortunate enough to know him.
Born in Newquay on 30th December 1919, his father was a bank manager in that town – then small and considerably more salubrious than it is today. By the age of five he had taught himself to pick out on the piano the familiar hymn tunes which he heard each Sunday. At six, he so impressed the visiting piano tuner with his perfect pitch and his ability to identify the individual notes in any chord, that he

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