Sgt Eric Hubert Tripp was a World War II veteran who later became a long standing regional secretary and branch chairman for The Parachute Regimental Association. Generous, reliable and popular he was held in high regard in his local community and the PRA. His services to The Parachute Regiment were recognised in 2006 with a Colonel Commandant’s commendation.
As the second youngest of a family of 12 children, Eric had a hard childhood with his mother dying when he was nine years old. After leaving school he became a bread roundsman and learnt to drive in his brother’s bread van – at least there were some advantages to having such a large family!
At the age of seventeen Eric enlisted into the RAF with ambitions of joining the aircrew. When he realised this ambition might not be fulfilled he transferred to the Army, joining the regiment of his native county - the Somerset Light Infantry. During the latter stages of the war Eric served in mainland Europe with the British Liberation Army, participating in the capture of Xanten and the Rhine Crossing. As part of the 43rd Wessex Division, he advanced into Northern Germany until the surrender of enemy forces in May 1945.
Shortly after the German surrender he transferred to the Army Air Corps, completing his parachute training course at Ringway in June 1945. His transfer to The Parachute Regiment was well justified, as the Ringway course notes record that he was “a good type of paratroop and a very good performer”. He was then posted to Palestine, in September 1945, with the 8th Battalion serving there for over two years.
After he was demobbed in 1948, he immediately joined the TA serving a further 13 years in khaki. Promotion was swift in the TA and Eric rose to Sergeant within four years. Much of this time was spent in the North Somerset Yeomanry’s Independent Parachute Squadron (B). Until 1956, the NSY was the divisional Royal Armoured Corps regiment for 16 Airborne Division and operated as a heavy anti tank unit armed with 17 Pounder anti-tank guns. (In 1956 Eric’s unit merged with 44/50 Royal Tank Regiment and was re-titled as NSY/44 RTR.)
Eric’s involvement with the TA had several ‘fringe’ benefits too. He attended the making of the film ‘The Red Beret’, starring Alan Ladd and Stanley Baker (see photos). It was also at one of the TA dances that he eventually met Marjorie (Taylor) in 1956. They were married in 1958 and enjoyed over 50 years of marriage before Eric’s death.
He became a very active member of The Parachute Regimental Association and, in September 1987, took over the appointments of Regional Secretary for the South West of England and Chairman of the Bristol branch, positions which he held continuously for over 21 years.
He devoted an enormous amount of his time visiting and helping the other branches in the South West region as well as running his own. He frequently organised regional events and outings such as band concerts, visits to museums and military establishments, social events and pilgrimages to Normandy. He undertook a lot of social work for ex-members of airborne forces and their families as well as carrying out charity work in his local area.
Shortly after his 82nd birthday Eric became sick from cancer and towards the end of 2008 he was seriously ill; however he was determined to attend the official opening of the new museum at Duxford by HRH Prince of Wales (see photo). Sadly, this was the last major PRA event Eric attended and he succumbed to the cancer on 13 January 2009.
Compiled by Harvey GrenvilleRead More