Sergeant Wilfred Errol Miles Littlewood was the son of Wilfred Albert and Beatrice Littlewood; and husband of Edna Marjorie Littlewood of Birmingham.
He was serving as Lance Corporal in 13th Battalion, The Warwickshire Regiment, when it was turned over to airborne forces and redesignated as the 8th (Midlands) Parachute Battalion in November 1942.
At the end of the following month 17 officers and 193 other ranks from the battalion attended course 44, which ran at RAF Ringway from 28 December until 8 January 1943. There were early signs of the courage that he was later to display in Normandy, as the course instructors’ notes record “Has very nervous disposition but has performed well.”
He served as a Lance Sergeant with HQ Coy during the early stages of the Normandy campaign in 1944. During the second week in France elements of the battalion, including A Company, repulsed a major attack by German forces, which resulted in six gallantry awards (Military Crosses to Lts Fry and Miller and Military Medals to Sgt Reading, Sgt Mayhew, L/Sgt Littlewood and Pte Lewis). Sgt Littlewood played a key part in this action and had originally been nominated for a Distinguished Conduct Medal.
His citation notes: “For outstanding courage and devotion to duty. At LE MESNIL on the 16th June, Sgt LITTLEWOOD was NCO i/c a MG [Machine Gun] Section which was covering the right flank of the Bn position. The enemy put in a heavy attack and brought mortar and MG fire down on the MG position. The enemy then brought a SP [Self Propelled] gun into actions which fired at the MG position from point blank range. Sgt Littlewood in spite of the fact that he was facing almost certain death stuck to his gun and inflicted severe casualties on the enemy. During the course of the day the machine gun received three hits and practically the whole of the section were casualties. Sgt Littlewood’s magnificent personal courage and example was inspiration to all and it was largely due to him that the position was held and the gun remained firing at the end of the day.”
The battalion played a key role in liberating Beuzeville from German forces for its final action in the Normandy campaign before being rested and withdrawn back to the UK. Although they succeeded in clearing the town they suffered many casualties, including 14 fatalities according to the 8th Para Bn Roll of Honour. Sadly Sgt Littlewood was one of those killed.
Sergeant Littlewood died on 25 August 1944, aged 26 years old, and is now buried at Ranville War Cemetery, Normandy