Major Ian Basil Aird

Royal Armoured Corps 3rd/4th County of London Yeomanry (Sharpshooters), Service number 97115

Born:  January 4th 1905
Died:  December 17th 1944

Ian was born in London on January 4th 1905, the third and youngest son of Malcolm Rucker Aird and Nellie Margaret Dummett. He was baptised on February 23rd at St. John’s Church, Paddington. His father’s occupation was “constructor” and they were living at 3, Hyde Park Square. In 1911, they employed nine servants. The Aird family were constructional engineers and Ian’s grandfather, John, was created the 1st Baronet in 1901.

Ian was educated at Malvern College and Matriculated in 1924. He captained the Christ Church cricket team and played hockey for the college.

On going down in 1927, he joined Thomas de la Rue & Company and became a Director in 1935.

He was Gazetted on September 13th 1939 (late Cadet C.S.M., Malvern Coll. Contgt., Jun. Div., O.T.C.) to be 2nd Lt. 2nd Sept. 1939 in the Royal Armoured Corps 3rd/4th County of London Yeomanry (Sharpshooters). He joined the Regiment at Washford along with Lt. R. Aird  [his older brother Ronald] on September 20th 1939.

The award of the Distinguished Service Order was gazetted on August 31st 1944 “For gallant and distinguished service in Normandy.”

He was serving with the rank of Major when he was killed, accidentally, on December 17th 1944 in Surrey.

His funeral took place at Woolton Hill church at 2.30.p.m. on December 20th and he is buried in the churchyard of St. Thomas, Woolton Hill near Newbury. [The London train which left Paddington at 12.30.p.m. was met at Newbury station. No flowers were requested.]

His name is on the MCC Memorial.

His medals are in the Museum at Hever Castle

Extracted from the War Diaries of the 4th County of London Yeomanry
In November 1942, the Regiment was in North Africa and on the 17th, Day 25 of the battle in the area of Tobruk

Ordered to send all tanks not safe for 300 miles to 7th Armd Div Tp Workshops with crews - crews to go on to No. 2 Forward TDS to collect replacement vehicles. 5 Grants, 1 2pdr, 1 6pdr and 1 CS sent off at 1100hrs under Major Aird. Lt AR Smith promoted Capt wef 18 Oct vice Capt R Aird.
1600 - Orders cancelled - 4 CLY will send 4 Grant crews to 1 RTR who will move by transporter as a Regtl group to MSUS

January 28th 1943
First leave parties into the city. Enemy line now West of SABRATHA.
Fighting strength 32 and 542. Capt IB Aird and Lt MA Ritchie in Italian Military hospital

February 22nd 1943
131 Bde reached to observatory on Pt 270 West of METAMUR. B Sqn remained forward all day. Major Silvertop MC, left the Regt to take over command of 3 RTR. Major The Viscount Cranley MC took over as acting 2i/c. Capt IB Aird was named as Sqn Leader of C Sqn vice Major The Viscount Cranley

February 23rd
Remained in the same position all day, halfway between MEDENINE and MARETH about 3 miles North of the road. Withdrew the Sqn forming the road block in the morning. Capt PMR Scott assumed of C sqn when it was heard that Capt IB Aird had caught pneumonia. Practically no change in the positions of the enemy. Had an order in the morning to send 3 NCOs, 3 Gunners and 5 driver mechanics to the 1st Army. All had to have a knowledge of the Sherman M4 and were drawn from A & B Sqns; they were sent off at midday.

May 2nd
Moved off at first light; travelling via KASSERINE, THALA, LE KEF and leaguered about 5 miles North of LE KEF. During the journey yesterday an Indian drove across the road and into the transporter towing Major R Aird's tank, the wheels were knocked crosswise and the tank and transporter overturned; one member of the crew had his leg broken, the rest escaped

June 13th 1944
Regiment moved at first light towards Villers Bocage 8157, 'A' Sqdn leading followed by 'A' Company Rifle Brigade. No opposition. 'A' Sqdn reached feature east of Villers Bocage 8358. Column split at 823578 by two Tiger tanks. RHQ brewed up completely. 'A' Sqdn continued to take up battle positions and 'B' Sqdn hold town. Unable to get through to 'A' Sqdn who were attacked at 10.00 by Tigers and infantry. They called for immediate assistance, but none could get through. At 10.30 'A' Sqdn reports position untenable, withdrawal impossible. At 10.35 all stations go off the air. 'B' Sqdn ordered to hold village at all cost. After 6 hours of street battles destroyed four Tigers and three mark IVs. At 16.00 'B' Sqdn reported village still held, but infantry in area 820975 and an attack by the Queens failed to clear opposition. 'B' Sqdn leader now acting CO ordered to withdraw Regiment to 780580, this was carried out without further loss, while 'C' Sqdn covered the withdrawal. The Commanding Officer 'The Viscount Cranley' was missing and Major Aird took command. Vehicle casualties 20 Cromwells, 4 Firefly's, 3 Humber Scout cars, 3 Stuarts, and 1 Half Track.

June 22nd
Recce by Sqn Leaders of 1 RTR area. New CO arrives at 2100hrs. Lt Col W Rankin takes command of the Regt, Major IB Aird 2i/c, Major EP MacColl MC, OC B Sqn, Major KH Hiscock OC C