Lieutenant-Colonel H. J B Rice

{ Harry }

11 Jan 1920 - 28 Jul 2014

  • France and Germany Star medal
  • General Service Medal (to 1962) Clasp medal

‘Harry’ Rice was born on 11 January 1920 in Dover. He was commissioned in the Royal Regiment of Artillery, 3 January 1941 and trained at the Royal Military Academy, Woolwich.

His first posting was in September 1941, to a Medium/Heavy Regiment as an instructor at Devonport. The task was to train other officers in the rapidly expanding army.

In 1943 he was posted to an Anti-Tank Regiment, RA and then at the end of 1943 he was posted to a Field Regiment, RA.

He was then tasked to form No 2 Forward Observation Unit, RA, in July 1944, for future operations in Germany. It would be attached to the 6th Airborne Division. Major Rice went to Normandy, in August, to find out all he could about an FOO unit. He found that many mistakes were made in Normandy with the FOO unit (poor communications, etc). He recommended that they take American hand-held ‘walkie-talkies’ as a back-up, which proved very useful. 

In September 1944 he had completed the selection of men for his unit and took the main part of them to RAF Ringway to attend parachute course 133, between 9 and 23 September.

He commanded the unit in the Ardennes and on the Rhine Crossing in 1945.

He took the Unit HQ and 5 Section to India in July 1945, to prepare for operations against the Japanese in the Far East. He then travelled with the HQ Section to Palestine in October 1945 and was granted the rank of Major (temporary) on 8 November 1945. He relinquished command of 2 FOU, RA on 1 March 1946 and moved to take command of a Battery in the 53rd (Worcestershire Yeomanry) Air Landing Light Regiment, RA.

He was promoted to Substantive Major on 3 July 1952.

He retired, with the rank of Lieutenant-Colonel, on 7 March 1963.

For the next 20 years he worked as a civil servant for the Ministry of Agriculture, before retiring to Farnham, Surrey, aged 92. He was a Trustee of the Airborne Forces Security Fund in the 1980s and 1990s.

Harry Rice married Eileen, had three children, one of whom, Col (Retd) Tony Rice was 2 PARA’s BC in the Falklands. He was also a grandfather and great grandfather.

Lt Col Rice died on 28 July 2014.

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Group photos_1

  • Veterans of 2 FOU at the Reichswald War Cemetery, 1985.

    Veterans of 2 FOU at the Reichswald War Cemetery, 1985.

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