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Remembering Major Jack

Joe Holley

Not long ago I wrote about the amazing stories that come to light when yet another World War II veteran passes (now at the rate of more than a thousand daily). Here's yet another, from the Telegraph of London.

Fighting in Italy in December 1944, then-Lt. Jack Bazzard and his British regiment were providing artillery support for a Punjab regiment in an attack on a German position atop a low ridge. Weeks of torrential rain had turned the ground into a quagmire, and haystacks, set on fire by enemy tracers, silhouetted the Indian troops as they charged.

"There are dead and wounded everywhere and we are caught on a minefield by the enemy shelling," Bazzard wrote in his diary. As casualties mounted, his company commander lost a leg, so Bazzard took command, despite being wounded in the head by mortar fire. Only the wireless set he was wearing saved his life.

With only 22 men left, Bazzard and his company reached their objective and then beat back a ferocious German counterattack. When another company arrived to relieve Bazzard and his men, they found him wearing corduroy trousers and pullover sweater, mistook him for a German and promptly made him their prisoner. Once the mistake was cleared up, Bazzard was awarded the Military Cross.

Years later, at age 83, he scaled a wall topped with barbed wire and rescued an injured man in a burning car. He later received a bravery award at the local fire brigade headquarters.

Major Jack Bazzard died recently at age 90.

By Joe Holley  |  July 5, 2009; 4:10 PM ET
Categories:  Joe Holley  
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