Captain Patrick Grattan Geary was the son of Lt Col Herman Noel Grattan Geary (also Royal Engineers), and Renee Joyce Geary, and husband of Felicity Geary, of Camberley, Surrey. He served with 1st Parachute Squadron, Royal Engineers, and took part in the North African campaign, during Op Torch.
Shortly after parachuting into Tunisia at Souk-el-Arba, officers of the 1st Parachute Battalion encountered a recently discharged French sailor while visiting French positions at Sidi Nasis. He informed them that an Italian Force comprising 300 men and about 20 tanks, harboured each night about nine miles away from Sidi Nasis towards Mateur. The Battalion's CO, Lt Col James Hill, decided to launch a battalion attack (less R Coy which was engaged in fighting at Oued Zarga) on the Italian position that night; zero hour was set for 03:00 hours on 24 November. This attack later became known as the Battle of Gue Hill.
A detachment from 1st Parachute Squadron Royal Engineers was tasked with mining the road to the east of the enemy positions to prevent their escape. The 1st Battalion's assault groups had moved into their assigned locations when three heavy explosions were heard around 02.45 hours from the Sappers' forming up position.
To save time the Sappers had been carrying their Hawkins mines already fully primed in sandbags; an act which was to have tragic consequences. It is believed that one man slipped into a wadi causing his mines to detonate and triggering further sympathetic detonations of the remaining mines carried by the party.
The explosions resulted in the loss of the entire detachment comprising of Captain Geary, Lt Holland, Lt White, L/ Sgt Sayer, L/Sgt Muir, Cpl Mercer, L/Cpl Harris, L/Cpl Hill, L/Cpl Hornsby, L/Cpl Manning, Sapper Calcott, Sapper Elvidge, Driver Hillings, Sapper Moat, Sapper VJ Mitchell, Sapper JW Mitchell, Sapper Rickleton, and Sapper Stanmore.
Captain Geary died on 24 November 1942, aged 23 years old. He is now commemorated alongside all other men killed during the attack on Gue Hill on Face 10 of the Memorial to the Missing at Medjez-el-Bab War, Tunisia.
Profile photo courtesy of CWGC
Profile compiled with assistance from Harvey Grenville and Niall CherryRead More