James Albert Warcup was born in Driffield on 6 January 1915. As a young boy, he moved to Langtoft. On 3 September 1939, when War was declared, he was working in Bridlington as a butcher. The following morning, aged 24, he enlisted into his local Regiment, 10th (East Riding Yeomanry) Bn The Green Howards.
Jim’s first three years service took him to France, Port Said in Egypt, Cyprus and Palestine. His talents were quickly noticed and within 18 months he has been promoted Sergeant. In December 1942 he was posted to the Green Howards Depot in Richmond as in Instructor. The following Spring he married his sweetheart, Miss Dorothy Gray – who by this time was serving in the Women’s Land Army.
Late that summer, just as harvest began, his Battalion was co-opted into the Army Air Corps and redesignated 12 (East Yorkshire) Parachute Bn. Jim successfully completed his jumps course on Parachute Course 89 in early November 1943.
Sergeant Warcup was awarded the British Empire Medal following a dangerous incident during a training exercise in England. His citation reads:
"During a Street Fighting Exercise at Southampton, on the 31st March 1944, when live ammunition and grenades were being used, one of the section which Sergeant Warcup was instructing threw a grenade into the window of a house. The grenade hit the window sill and fell back among the section. There were four seconds before the grenade would explode.
Without hesitation, Sergeant Warcup ran forward, picked up the grenade and threw it into the window of the house, where it exploded harmlessly. By brave and prompt action, Sergeant Warcup undoubtedly averted a serious accident and saved the lives of the men whom he was instructing."
Shortly after the D-Day landings in Normandy, the 12th Parachute Battalion attacked Breville on 12 June 1944. The attack met with withering fire and the Battalion suffered a large number of casualties. All of the officers in “C” Company, leading the assault, were either killed or wounded, and so Sergeant Warcup led the remnants into the village and secured the Company objective. For his actions here, and later he was awarded the Distinguished Conduct Medal with the citation reading:
"Sergeant, now Acting Company Sergeant Major, Warcup landed on D-Day with his Battalion by parachute. His cool courage and leadership at Bas de Ranville on the 6th June 1944 and Breville on the 12th June 1944 were an inspiration to all. Wherever the fight was hottest Sergeant Warcup was always to be found.
After his company had suffered severe casualties at Breville, and it had lost all its officers, by great personal gallantry and leadership he led the remnants into the village onto the objective. On the 19th August 1944 at Putot-en Auge as Acting CSM the leading platoon of this company was pinned by fire in the graveyard of the Church by a Machine Gun firing at 25 yards range. Without hesitation Acting CSM Warcup went forward and led an attack by the leading section on this gun. When about five yards away from the Machine Gun he was dangerously wounded in the neck by a bullet. Despite the loss of blood he went on until the Machine Gun post was destroyed. It was only later that he could be persuaded to go back to be attended to.
Throughout the period 6th June 1944 to 19th August 1944, CSM Warcup showed complete contempt for enemy fire and complete contempt for his own personal safety on numerous occasions. His gallantry combined with magnificent leadership has been an inspiration to the Battalion and he has contributed more than any other man in the Battalion to its many successes in battle during this period."
CSM Warcup continued to serve with the 12th Parachute Battalion and took part in Operation Varsity on 24 March 1945, where he was wounded during the heavy fighting on the drop zone. Wounded, his smock was cut from him and forms part of the collection handed to the Museum with the medals.
On his discharge, in 1946, Jim Warcup returned to the butchery trade in Bridlington. In 1957 he set up his own business in Garton on the Wolds, which is when his long association with The Sykes Family and the Sledmere Estate began.
Company Sergeant Major Jim Warcup died in 1998, aged 83, and his ashes are buried in the local church yard.