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Captain Timothy Joseph Fitzgerald
Late Irish Guards
by Chris Fitzgerald

Captain Tim Fitzgerald was born in Mallow, County Cork, Ireland in 1925 and shortly afterwards the family moved to Liverpool, England.

During the Second World War he joined the Home Guard in Liverpool and subsequently volunteered to join the Irish Guards in April 1943 aged 17. He served in the 3rd Battalion Irish Guards as part of the Guards Armoured Division and fought in France (including the Normandy landings), Belgium, Holland (on the road to Arnhem) and Germany.  He was wounded several times, hospitalised and upon return to his battalion on each occasion he discovered that his unit had been wiped out.

Tim also led something of a ‘charmed life’ during the war. On one occasion his lightly armed unit was sent to ‘tidy up the line’ prior to a planned hand over the next day and this involved capturing what was described as a ‘lightly defended’ castle. However, it turned out that the castle was occupied by three heavily armed German battalions who defended it with heavy machine guns, mortars and artillery. During the battle to capture the castle, 176 of Tim’s comrades were killed or wounded.
On another occasion, a few days before the end of the war, his unit occupied a graveyard which was subsequently bombed by both the Luftwaffe and the Royal Air Force. Whilst in the graveyard several of Tim’s comrades were killed and it subsequently transpired that this had been by ‘friendly fire’.

Shortly after this incident Tim’s unit was ‘standing down’ and eating breakfast near Sittensen, Germany, when German tanks from the 15th Panzer Division and supporting infantry came out of the woods and mounted a ferocious attack, resulting in several tanks being destroyed. Guardsman Charlton, from Manchester, jumped out of his tank, taking the fixed machine-gun off the tank, and placed it on a nearby gate and kept firing at the German infantry to break up their attack. Guardsman Charlton was unfortunately killed but a German Officer recommended him for a decoration and he was subsequently awarded the Victoria Cross posthumously.

Tim took part in the liberation of the Belsen concentration camp in Germany towards the end of the war and this had a profound effect upon him. He was also part of the small team that captured `Lord Haw-Haw`, William Joyce, a Nazi propaganda broadcaster during the war.

Tim was awarded several medals for his wartime service, including the prestigious Legion d’Honneur by the French Government in recognition. However, his wartime experiences left their mark on him resulting in what today would be regarded as ‘PTSD’. Tim was demobbed in July 1947.

After the war Tim joined the Police and continued his military service by being commissioned into the TA as well as commanding the Irish Guards Cadet unit in Liverpool (having been instrumental in its creation), before becoming the Shooting Officer of the Combined Cadet Force (CCF) at Merchant Taylors’ School Crosby, Merseyside. His military service covered over 40 years, and when he retired at the age of 75, Merchant Taylors’ CCF Unit created the ‘Fitzgerald Shooting Cup’ in his honour.

Tim’s funeral took place on the 22nd May 2018 in Liverpool and was led by an Irish Guards Piper, as well as being attended by representatives of the Liverpool Irish Guards Choir, the Irish Guards Association, the British Legion and Merchant Taylors’ CCF. Tim’s wife, Patricia, pre-deceased him and he is survived by five sons, six grandchildren and a great granddaughter.

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