Sgt Michael Willetts GC

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Sgt Michael Willetts GC

Post  Tommy Simpson on Fri Jun 19, 2009 7:54 am

Bernie,

You might want to move this to the "in memorium" thread.

I don't have permission to post in there.

Below is a thread supplied by Gil Boyd ex 2 Para & he's asked me to put it on here.

Please feel free to edit etc!

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Tommy,
Could you put this up on 3 PARA site for me mate as I sent it to the email account on your 3 PARA site but heard nothing, as I can’t access it openly without registering. I said I would do it as a favour to the Chairman of both branches.
I attach below something I promised I would do for the Newark and Nottingham branches, which was to do a write up and send some pics for your site.As Mick was a 3 PARA SNCO.
I hope you can open the pics OK. I have asked Al to put it on the 2 PARA Reunion site as well.
Have a good weekend
Regards
Gil

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Each year the Nottingham and Newark Branches of the PRA attend Sgt Michael Willetts GC graveside and commemorative bench for a commemoration ceremony. I understand there were about 50 members in attendance and also a member of the George Cross Society shown with the Trophy and ex PARA’s. The service had finished and the lads were going off to the Bird in Hand Public house in time honoured tradition which was close by.

As they left the graveyard, a car pulled up with a lady driving and an elderly gentleman inside. They asked quietly “ Why are there so many Red Berets here today”? She was answered with a proud retort of why these old men gathered each year to honour a brave fallen Paratrooper, only for the lads to find out it was Michael Willetts sister Kathleen and his dad Sam, who also wanted to attend on this particular day for no known reason!!.

How ironic was that, or was Michael looking down .

The Chairman of Newark Branch of the PRA sent me some photos of the day and asked me if I could do the honours and place it on this site and 3 PARA’s too..........my pleasure.

I have put his citation below for those to refresh their memories of his actions that sad day at Springfield Road Police Station. A place many of us were to see again and again over the next few years.

RIP …………………Michael Willetts GC see you at the final RV

Gil Boyd

Medal citation

The George Cross was awarded to Sergeant Willett's widow in June and the citation appeared in the London Gazette at the same time.

The Queen has been graciously pleased to approve the posthumous award of the George Cross to:
2391067 Sergeant Michael WILLETTS, The Parachute Regiment.

At 8.24 p.m. on the evening of 25th May 1971, a terrorist entered the reception hall of the Springfield Road Police Station in Belfast. He carried a suitcase from which a smoking fuse protruded, dumped it quickly on the floor and fled outside. Inside the room were a man and a woman, two children and several police officers. One of the latter saw at once the smoking case and raised the alarm. The Police Officers began to organise the evacuation of the hall past the reception desk, through the reception office and out by a door into the rear passage.

Sergeant Michael Willetts was on duty in the inner hall. Hearing the alarm, he sent an N.C.O. up to the first floor to warn those above and hastened himself to the door towards which a Police Officer was thrusting those in the reception hall and office. He held the door open while all passed safely through and then stood in the doorway, shielding those taking cover. In the next moment, the bomb exploded with terrible force.

Sergeant Willetts was mortally wounded. His duty did not require him to enter the threatened area, his post was elsewhere. He knew well, after 4 months service in Belfast, the peril of going towards a terrorist bomb but he did not hesitate to do so. All those approaching the door from the far side agree that if they had had to check to open the door they would have perished. Even when they had reached the rear passage, Sergeant Willetts waited, placing his body as a screen to shelter them. By this considered act of bravery, he risked - and lost - his life for those of the adults and children. His selflessness, his courage are beyond praise. 22nd June 1971

http://imageposter.com/uploads/get/659403

http://imageposter.com/uploads/get/659402

http://imageposter.com/uploads/get/659400
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Tommy Simpson

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Sgt Michael Willetts GC

Post  Nobbyclarke on Fri Jul 17, 2009 3:29 pm

Thanks for that Tommy & Gil

Has a matter of interest I had the pleasure of meeting and hearing singer and song writer Harvey Andrews sing here in France (in a friends kitchen!) a couple of weeks ago who wrote and sang the song "The Soldier" which was about the incident involving Sgt Michael Willetts GC.

Although I did not join 3 PARA until 1973 the incident was still very fresh in the minds of the older guys and of course we, 3 PARA celebrated this by the annual Willetts Trophy competition.

If anyone is interested in listening to the song, maybe for the first time or to refresh the old grey matter go to: Youtube and type in Harvey Andrews and select The Soldier.

RIP Michael

UTRINQUE PARATUS
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Sgt Michael Willetts GC

Post  Nobbyclarke on Fri Jul 17, 2009 11:44 pm

I forgot to mention, and for those who can remember, Harvey Andrews performed this song (among others) at a CSE Show at Musgrave Park during our 1978 NI Tour.

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