Colonel Stephen Terrell served with the 3rd & 8th Parachute Battalions during World War II and was wounded in action in the later stages of the Normandy campaign in 1944 while serving as a company commander. After the war he became a barrister, and also served as a senior officer for nine years in 16 Airborne Division (TA). He was later appointed Queen’s Counsel and also served as President of the Liberal Party.
Terrell was a pre-war Territorial Army officer with the Royal Fusiliers (City of London) Regiment and had reached the rank of War Substantive Captain when he volunteered for The Parachute Regiment in 1942.
He qualified as a military parachutist in August 1942 and commanded A Company, 3rd Parachute Battalion, in North Africa during Operation Torch. Terrell’s A Company is credited, by some, as the first users of the battle cry “Waho Mohammed”, which was subsequently adopted by all three battalions of the 1st Parachute Brigade. A credit contested by others within 1st Para Bde!
Terrell was later posted to strengthen the officer establishment in the 8th Para Bn, after Lt Col Alistair Pearson had taken command in 1943. The fomer Warwickshire Regiment battalion had previously operated in a non-airborne role prior to being turned over to airborne duties at the end of the previous year.
He served as Officer Commanding A Company, 8th Para Bn, for most of the Normandy campaign and was wounded in August 1944 during the divisional breakout.
Terrell later served as an operations staff officer in the 6th Airborne Division Headquarters for the Rhine Crossing and the final advance into Germany in March 1945. He was twice Mentioned in Despatches for his service in the North West Europe campaigns of 1944-45.
After the war he was one of the first to join the newly constituted airborne forces within the Territorial Army, in May 1947.
Terrell was promoted to Lt Colonel in the following year, and appointed as Commanding Officer (CO) of the recently established 11th Parachute Battalion TA within 16th Airborne Division. When he took command the battalion could barely muster 45 men of all ranks. By the time he relinquished command in 1953 the battalion’s strength had risen to just under 600 men.
He married Diana in 1951, with whom he had two sons.
Terrell was awarded the OBE, while serving as CO of 11 PARA (TA), in recognition of his services.
In 1953, he joined the 16 Airborne Division (TA) Headquarters as a senior staff officer, and served there until the division’s disbandment in 1956. He was placed on the unattached list and promoted to full Colonel, retiring to the TA Reserve of Officers in 1960.
In civilian life Stephen Terrell worked as a barrister and was appointed Queen’s Counsel in 1965.
Terrell served as Liberal Party President during the 1971-1972 term. He also headed a three man commission, appointed by the party leadership, which produced the Terrell Report examining strained relations between the Liberal Party and its radical Young Liberals’ wing.
He unsuccessfully contested Eastbourne as the Liberal Party’s parliamentary candidate during the General Election in February 1974; amassing nearly 24,000 votes compared to the Conservative Ian Gow’s 31,462 votes.
Stephen Terrell died on 16 August 2004, aged 88 years.