Captain Ian A Tait

{ John }

09 Jun 1944

  • Mentioned in Despatches medal

Ian Andrew Tait was the son of Andrew Wilson and Isobel May Tait; husband of Denys Constance Tait (nee le Maitre); father of Catriona and Andrew. He was commissioned in the Queen’s Own Cameron Highlanders and volunteered for airborne forces.

Captain Tait successfully completed parachute training at RAF Ringway on course number 58 from 29 March to 11 April 1943 and also completed glider training. He was attached to HQ Platoon, 22 Independent Company, The Parachute Regiment, and took part in Operation Overlord (Normandy).

Captain Tait was killed in action on 9 June 1944, aged 28, and was given a field burial at Breville, and was re-interred to Ranville War Cemetery, Calvados, France on 5 July 1945.

Captain Henry Dodwell kept a diary of the 22nd Independent Parachute Company's actions in Normandy. He was there when Captain Tait died and recalled the circumstances in the entry for June 9:

"Some Hamilcars carrying Tetrarch tanks crashed in orchards N of the DZ on D-Day, and they wanted to retrieve them this morning...Tait took McGuiness, Jack Johnstone, Kendall, Pete Harris, Jommy Maw, Ken, Peewee and self on a fighting patrol to keep busy any Jerries who might have been in Breville and who might have interfered. Breville had been reported as empty...we moved cautiously up the road through the orchards towards the village. We had just got up to the first houses when two Jerries doubled out of a house, across the road and into a field. Tait inexcusably missed them with his sten, and then except for the two scouts [friendly] the patrol quickly got off the road, which was obviously somebody's field of fire, and into a field. Tait was killed in the gateway, hit in the throat, and McGuiness had 2 fingers taken off by a bullet that ricocheted off the body of his sten". 

The rest of the patrol later escaped through Breville, withdrawing through part of Lt John Vischer's party. They returned to Breville on June 13, and Dodwell buried Tait under some apple trees on the village green. Dodwell mentions Tait again on June 19,

"Most people pretty windy and morale is very low, owing to the reputation the woods have for accurate sniping and extensive minefields and booby traps. Expecting the worst after Tait's show. We have since heard that he should never have gone into Breville, and that the place was even then held by at least a coy. of Jerries"

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By Rod Gibson

Additional editing by Alex Walker 28.05.2024

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