My father, Reginald Arthur Hibbard RA by Ian Hibbard



To introduce myself as the son of the late Reginald Arthur Hibbard who was a Lance Bombardier in the Royal Artillery posted initially to anti-aircraft gun sites in Bristol and Weymouth followed by active service in North Africa, Sicily and Italy.
For much of his time abroad he served as batman to the late Captain Frederick “Freddie” Dyer which inter alia involved ferrying him around in his personal transport.
I have just read an article on your website by Bernard Waldern where, at the end of Para. 11, he refers to two British soldiers being the first to enter Rome, and not the Americans as portrayed in the film “Anzio”.
I will now come to the reason why the article proved of such interest to me personally.
My father, who like many others, spoke little of the horrors witnessed during the war, but nevertheless took great pride in always proclaiming (particularly to his grandchildren) that he and “Freddie” were the first to enter Rome and somehow managed to find themselves driving round the fountain in the Vatican City the wrong way round!
Whilst the first part may be viewed with some scepticism, there is no doubt that at some stage, he was in within the hallowed precincts because “they” were blessed by the Pope and received souvenirs of the occasion – it would appear that the papal publicity machine was still operational even in times of war.
I have attached some photographs which you may also find of interest, particularly the Italy Star awarded in recognition of his involvement in the campaign.

If anyone else has information regarding my father’s recollection of these events, then I would be very pleased to hear from them.

Ian Hibbard.

4 Comments

  1. Frank de Planta

    Ian.

    I think that you need to take your father’s story with a pinch of salt. The first British soldiers to reach the very suburbs of Rome were the Carrier Platoon of 6 GREN GDS under the command of Lt Michael Hargreaves in the days immediately following the Anzio landings on 22 Jan 44.

    The next Allied troops to reach Rome were American and not British. The Americans broke through first and, at the time, the British were still struggling along the coast.

    Your father may well have driven around St Peter’s but it was not in the very early days of the Allies arriving in Rome. That was squarely an American affair. The American commander – Lt Gen Mark W Clark, made absolutely sure that no Brit would get their before his US troops.

    Regards

    Frank

    Reply
    1. Ian Hibbard

      ;Frank

      Thank you for putting the record straight.
      I always suspected that my father’s “story” was not a true reflection of the actual event but, with your
      comprehensive response and knowledge, has nevertheless enabled me to further understand
      exactly what occurred in Italy during those times.
      Bari was often mentioned as one of the places where he was billeted which would seem to tie in
      with your comment that the British were struggling along the coast if by that you mean the Adriatic?
      I will request his record from Glasgow at the earliest opportunity but guess this will not be quick given the
      current situation.

      Regards
      Ian

      Reply
  2. Frank De PlantaFrank De Planta

    Ian.

    Once you have his Service Record, I will happily decipher it and work out exactly where he went and when. Rome was a leave centre and many soldiers, particularly the Roman Catholics, took the opportunity to pop in and see the Pope.

    Regards

    Frank

    Reply
  3. Ian Hibbard

    Frank

    Many thanks for your kind offer which I will certainly take in due course.
    One other snippet of information that comes to mind is that he was possibly in 76th HAA Regiment.

    Regards
    Ian

    Reply

Leave a Comment

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.

>