The Late Past Master Richard Hargreaves MC

Past Master Richard (Dick) Hargreaves MC passed away on 10th August at the age of 99.

Dick Hargreaves joined the Territorial Army in May 1939 as a Fusilier in the 12th Battalion Royal Fusiliers, whilst working as a receptionist at the Berkeley Hotel, London. In December 1939, Dick was commissioned with the Royal Fusiliers. He volunteered for The Parachute Regiment and qualified as a parachutist in July 1942 and initially served as Adjutant, Captain then Major.

By May 1943, Dick was the Officer Commanding B Company when his Battalion was sent overseas by ship to North Africa. On 9th September 1943, the Parachute Brigade landed in Taranto Harbour, South East Italy. On 15th September, Dick was tasked with leading a force to attack German positions on high ground overlooking an important bridge at Laterza, some 20 miles north of Taranto. The attack went in at 3.30am against heavy machine gun fire, mortars, fixed lines of trip wires, and ended with a spirited bayonet charge. The force withdrew, on orders from the battalion, at 4.45am under long range mortar fire and heavy machine gun fire. Dick was awarded an immediate Military Cross, on his return to the safety of Allied lines.

Fighting continuously since September 1943 in Italy, Dick and his battalion finally got some rest and recuperation in May 1944. They then underwent training ahead of being parachuted into France in August 1944. Dick was made a Chevalier of the Legion d’Honneur in 2005, recognising his time as a Major in France.

They were only in France for three weeks and returned to Italy by sea as General Alexander, Commander in Chief, wanted to attack the Germans occupying the Greek Islands. On 16th October 1944, Dick and his battalion jumped at Megara between the Corinth canal and Athens in daylight. Dick left the battalion in Athens in mid December 1944 to start on the Haifa Staff College in January 1945. Lord Jellicoe was also a student and they became firm friends. At the end of that course he was posted as Brigade Major to the 4th British Division which was in Greece. Dick was demobilised in July 1946, aged 26, having got married to a WRNS officer in 1945 whilst on leave in the UK. They had been engaged since 1943.

Post war, Dick had a successful career in various businesses. He worked for Gallaher, tobacco manufacturer, becoming a main board director for twelve years. Then he worked for the Savoy Hotel Group (he had been a pre-war trainee with them) for eighteen years mostly as a main board director. Later he became chairman of JA Devenish, West Country brewers, who ran two breweries and several hundred pubs in Dorset and Cornwall. Dick was a City of Westminster Councillor for four years and was Deputy Lord Mayor in 1977.

In April 1959, Dick, then working for Gallaher Ltd, applied to join the Worshipful Company of Tobacco Pipe Makers and Tobacco Blenders. He subsequently became a Freeman of the Company in 1960; he gained the Freedom of the City of London before being Gowned in the Livery and becoming a Liveryman in 1961. He joined the Court in 1974 and became Master in June 1976. Past Master Hargreaves remained a member of the Court until his death and it was only in the past few years, that he had been unable to attend meetings. He will be missed by many Liverymen of the Company.