Arnhem First Day Cover signed by Major James Anthony (Tony) Hibbert MBE MC
Arnhem Veteran Major James Anthony (Tony) Hibbert MBE MC signed this First Day Cover on the 50th anniversary of the Arnhem campaign known as 'Operation Market Garden'.
This signed item is in very good condition and features Major Hibberts signature in black ink.
A great addition to any WW2 Para/Arnhem collection.
More on Major Hibbert.
Born in 1917, Tony left school at 16 to become an apprentice in the family Wine and Spirits merchants. As part of his training, he was based in Germany during the early 1930s where he became alarmed by the militarisation he saw around him. Abandoning his apprenticeship, much to the anger of his father, Tony returned to England in 1935 and applied to the Royal Military Academy (RMA). In January 1938, he was commissioned into the Royal Artillery and six days after the start of World War Two (9th September) Tony landed at Cherbourg with the British Expeditionary Force.
Nine months later, having defended the Northern Perimeter of Dunkirk during the last four days of the evacuation until the ammunition ran out and he had to destroy his guns, Tony led his troops to the boats for the return home.
Back on British soil, Tony was keen to volunteer to get back to the Front, and joined No 2 (Parachute) Commando, the foundation of the Parachute Regiment. He served in North Africa and Italy as a Staff Officer, and was later posted to the 1st British Airborne Division as Brigade Major of 1 Parachute Brigade in June 1944. Shortly after, he was involved in the preparations for Operation Market Garden with instructions to hold the bridge at Arnhem for 48 hours. The operation was beset by problems from the start, but the Brigade held the bridge against fierce German opposition for 72 hours before being captured and loaded into lorries to be taken to the German Prisoner of War camps.
During a stop at Brummen, near Arnhem, Tony and another office jumped off. Although Tony escaped, his comrade was recaptured and six other prisoners were shot in retaliation. This was a memory that haunted Tony throughout his life.
Tony was hidden by brave Dutch civilians and worked with the underground to collect Airborne invaders, gathering them at Ede for the great Pegasus 1 and 2 escapes. Unfortunately, during the escape Tony was injured whilst sitting on the bonnet of a jeep which crashed into another vehicle breaking his leg and he was subsequently hospitalised for several months.
6 months later, in April 1945, Tony was discharged from hospital, still on crutches, and posted to 'T' force at Bremen with orders to 'take the town of Kiel and stop the Russians from reaching Denmark'. At this time, the Russians were still our allies and there were 50,000 Germans in Kiel.
Tony had to use his guile to persuade the Duty Officer at Hamburg to allow his unit to progress, as orders were not to allow anyone to cross the front line. Tony arrived at Kiel seriously undermanned to face the Russians, so drove directly to the German Naval Headquarters where he managed to persuade the Senior Naval Officer to let him speak to Admiral Doenitz who agreed to an immediate cease fire of German Naval and Armed Forces in Schleswig-Holstein and Denmark.
Tony ended his war under arrest for deliberately disobeying orders of the Corps Commander. This made a fitting end to a war which he had begun in the same way for crashing a superior officer's car!
Tony was invalided out of the army in 1947 having been mentioned in Dispatches in 1940 and 1946 and receiving the Military Cross in 1945. 65 years later, he was presented with the Great Seal of the City of Kiel and also received a Commendation from the British Chief of General Staff for his services at Kiel.